NIT 2021: Dates, Format, Schedule for Men and Women's Tournaments

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistMarch 8, 2021

Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski speaks with Duke forward Matthew Hurt (21) and other players during a break in the action in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against North Carolina State in Durham, N.C., Monday, March 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Gerry Broome/Associated Press

The men's and women's National Invitation Tournaments will take place this postseason, but both will see significant changes amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The annual tournaments feature teams that didn't make their NCAA counterparts trying to end their seasons on a high note despite being out of national title contention.

Squads will still get this opportunity in 2021, but both brackets will see reduced fields, with games taking place in neutral sites rather than on campus like in past years.

Here is what you need to know about the upcoming tournaments.


Men's NIT

Teams: 16

Selection Date: March 14

Round 1: March 17-20

Round 2: March 25

Semifinals: March 27

Final: March 28

Sites: Frisco, Texas, Denton, Texas

TV Broadcast: ESPN/ESPN2


Madison Square Garden in New York City has been the home of the men's NIT for decades, hosting the semifinals and final as a reward for the teams that made it out of their brackets. The new location in Texas will be among the many changes we will see this year.

Just like the NCAA men's basketball tournament being held entirely in Indiana, the NIT will be held entirely in Frisco and Denton, with the title game played at Comerica Center.

There should still be plenty of excitement for the NIT considering the teams that might be involved.

A bizarre 2020-21 season means we could see several blue bloods miss March Madness, including Duke, Kentucky and possibly North Carolina and Michigan State. Other perennial men's NCAA tournament squads like Syracuse, Indiana and Memphis could also be on the outside looking in this year.

Kentucky won't likely see any postseason with a 9-15 record, but the other schools could be major draws for the NIT.

The involvement with top programs plus future NBA talent could ensure this is a high-profile event even with the changes.

Meanwhile, one extra wrinkle is the NCAA designating four alternates in the case one team cannot compete because of COVID-19-related restrictions. This could shake up the NIT field or at least create some distractions for those still with March Madness dreams.


Women's NIT

Teams: 32

Selection Date: March 15

Round 1: March 19

Round 2: March 20

Round 3: March 22

Semifinals: March 27

Final: March 29

Regional Sites: Charlotte, North Carolina, Fort Worth, Texas, Memphis, Tennessee, Rockford, Illinois.

TV Broadcast: CBS Sports Network


The tournament is effectively broken down into four separate events, crowning a champion in each to go with multiple consolation games.

It clinches at least two games for all teams involved, while even a team that loses in the first round can end the year with two straight wins. The squads that win three in a row in the regional sites will compete for the tournament title a week later.

Considering the travel restrictions involved, it's a positive when you can provide more teams with extra games.

This event is usually dominated by bigger conference teams that missed out on the NCAA women's basketball tournament, including last year's winner, Arizona. South Dakota was the last mid-major to win in 2016.

However, the biggest storyline this season could be California Baptist.

The Lancers secured a spot in the NIT by finishing 20-0 in the regular season, although they aren't eligible for the women's NCAA tournament after only recently transitioning to Division I. Even without a national title, they can still show they are among the nation's best teams with a strong showing in the NIT.

Every team involved will have to be at its best to win five games in a row against quality competition.