Floriani: The Final NIT?

Posted by rtmsf on April 14th, 2010

Ray Floriani has been to so many NITs he can’t remember them all, but he sent us this feature story on what may have been the final evening for the Grand Old Lady of postseason college basketball a couple of weeks ago. 

NEW YORK CITY- The last one? Hopefully not. Heading to New York on that bright and sunny (finally) afternoon was the realization that this could be the end. The end of the line for the nation’s oldest postseason tournament in college basketball. The final edition as the NCAA gets closer to expansion. Denial was no use as the reality of it all was sinking in and on the minds of fans. Not just the fans of Dayton and North Carolina but the fans of the college game in general.

On the train to New York, we met up with a few Dayton alums from my area. We discuss the game and soon there was an invite to a Dayton pregame reception on the eighteenth floor of the Penn Hotel across from the Garden. The game starts at seven. We’d hit New York at five and considering I plan to check in at MSG about 5:30, it sounded good. At the reception were alumni, friends and students including the band members and cheerleaders. Met a lot of passionately devoted fans, but refused any drinks (there was a game to cover), settling instead for soda.

They Are Not Dayton Alums Yet, Ray...

Off to the Garden where players took the floor about an hour prior to tipoff to stretch, do some light shooting and generally go through their pregame routine. It’s all business on both sides. North Carolina would rather play on the first Monday in April. There is a title at stake here however and the first Thursday instead will suffice. Interesting these two schools are meeting for probably the last NIT championship. Dayton has had a storied history in this tournament with eight previous ‘Final Four’ appearances. Five times the Flyers finished runners-up while twice ascending to the championship. North Carolina has not appeared in the event nearly as much. Their first trip to MSG for the NIT resulted in a 1970 first round loss to Manhattan, coached by Jack Powers later to become  a long time director of the tournament. A year later they captured their only title in the NIT.

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ATB: NIT Edition

Posted by rtmsf on March 31st, 2010

NIT Semifinals.  It’ll be two teams that expected to be playing in late March this season in the NIT finals on Thursday night; it’s just that they probably thought they’d be playing in the NCAA Tournament rather than the Granddaddy of postseason tourneys.  With wins tonight, Dayton and UNC prove, however, that a disappointing regular season doesn’t have to mean that you pack it in if you’re invited to one of the lesser tourneys.  If you’re Roy Williams or Brian Gregory, you keep playing the games in the hopes that your young players will benefit from the additional reps and learn about how to win games in a tournament setting.  There’s a fair amount of precedent for this ultimately helping teams who made nice runs to the NIT finals in recent years (e.g., Baylor last year, Ohio State in 2008, WVU in 2007), so maybe we’ll see the Heels and Flyers back in the Dance next season.

  • #3 Dayton 68, #2 Ole Miss 63.  Brian Gregory is well on his way to becoming the next Dave Odom with his record moving to 6-1 in the NIT with two appearances in the last three seasons.  Dayton got 22/10 from Marcus Johnson and 9/11/5 assts from Chris Wright despite the two combining to shoot 6-23 from the field.  The team they defeated, Ole Miss, was eliminated in the semifinals for the second time in three years.  Dayton will play North Carolina on Thursday night in a game that they’d surely like to win to improve the program’s standing.
  • #4 UNC 68, #3 Rhode Island 67 (OT). Roy Williams’ team continues to gain valuable experience winning close games in a tournament setting, and his young players have the coach one step closer to his third ‘national championship’ as the top Heel.  Deon Thompson had 16/13 and Will Graves 14/7 in a defensive-minded back-and-forth contest that was ultimately decided when URI’s Lamonte Ulmer was heading upcourt after a defensive rebound and was seemingly tripped by a Carolina player but there was no call.  UNC will shoot for its second NIT title (1971) in program history on Thursday night.
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NIT Final Four Set: Dayton, Ole Miss, UNC, Rhody

Posted by rtmsf on March 25th, 2010

For the third consecutive year, Roy Williams will lead his North Carolina Tar Heels to the Final Four of a postseason national tournament.  Ok, it’s the NIT, but Carolina should get a little credit for winning tough road games at Mississippi State and UAB to move into the semifinals at Madison Square Garden next week.  Tonight two other teams joined UNC and Ole Miss: Rhode Island, who went into the cauldron of Blacksburg and came out with a 79-72 win; and Dayton, who ran all over Illinois to send two Atlantic 10 teams to MSG.  Here’s the remaining bracket, schedule and times.

It’s interesting to note that none of the four #1 seeds made it to the semis despite having home court advantage for the first three rounds.  #1 Arizona State was knocked off in the first round by Jacksonville, while UNC outlasted #1 Mississippi State in the last round before the other two — #1 Illinois and #1 Virginia Tech — lost tonight.  It’s dicey to draw conclusions from NIT performance because you never know how motivated teams will be to try their hardest, but at least from the eye test, all of the above teams other than perhaps ASU were taking the experience seriously.

Regardless, these two matchups next week should make for an appetizer in the middle of next week while we’re all starved for action waiting for the other, more grandiose Final Four to get busy in Indianapolis.

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A Quick Look-In at the Other National Tournaments

Posted by rtmsf on March 22nd, 2010

We realize that 99% of you are only interested in the NCAA Tournament, but we’d not be doing our job as the ubiquitous college basketblog (who the hell came  up with that slogan anyway?) unless we at least kept tabs on the other national tourneys that have been going on in the background of the Big Dance.


Imagine our surprise when during one of Sportscenter’s lead-ins yesterday showed the familiar light blue uniforms of North Carolina as part of their highlight package.  Despite what CBS’ “Rules of Engagement” promo would have us believe, UNC and UConn are not a part of the NCAA Tournament.  They are, however, part of the NIT, and they’re both still lacing them up in the other “national tournament.”   On Friday night, Ole Miss defeated Memphis 90-81, while on Saturday Texas Tech, UAB and the aforementioned Heels got a nice road win on a buzzer-beating layup by Larry Drew II at top seed Mississippi State.  All of those teams will now advance to the quarterfinal round, one step away from the semis in Madison Square Garden next week.  Here’s the remaining schedule:

Second Round Games – Monday 3/22

  • Nevada @ Rhode Island – 6pm  (ESPNU)
  • Connecticut @ Virginia Tech – 7pm  (ESPN)
  • Kent State @ Illinois – 8pm  (ESPNU)
  • Dayton @ Cincinnati – 9pm  (ESPN)

Quarterfinal Games – Tuesday 3/23

  • Texas Tech @ Ole Miss – 7pm  (ESPN)
  • North Carolina @ UAB – 9pm  (ESPN)


In the CBI, the quarterfinals are set for Monday night, as follows:

  • Charleston @ VCU – 7pm (HDNet)
  • Morehead State @ Boston U. – 7pm
  • Princeton @ IUPUI – 7pm
  • Green Bay @ St. Louis – 9pm (HDNet)


Ditto for the CIT, who will play four quarterfinals on Monday evening at campus sites:

  • Appalachian State @ Marshall – 7pm
  • Fairfield @ Creighton – 8pm
  • Louisiana Tech @ Missouri State – 8pm
  • Pacific @ Northern Colorado – 9pm
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RTC Live: NIT – Texas Tech @ Seton Hall

Posted by rtmsf on March 16th, 2010

The Red Raiders of Texas Tech come east to kick off their last run in the 2010 season, as they will face the Pirates of Seton Hall at the Rock in Newark, New Jersey. The Big 12 schedule was not kind to Texas Tech; after stumbling to an 0-3 start, the Red Raiders, led by junior Mike Singletary at the forward spot and John Roberson at the point, rallied for a 4-2 run that included as sweep of Oklahoma and wins over Iowa State and NCAA-bound Oklahoma State, before hitting a seven-game losing streak to close out their conference schedule. A brief revival in the Big 12 Conference Tournament (an 82-67 win over Colorado) ended in the quarterfinals with a loss to the Kansas Jayhawks, 80-68. Seton Hall faced their own Murderer’s Row in the Big East. The Pirates’ first 11 games came against postseason teams, eight of whom are NCAA-bound. The Pirates managed a 4-7 record through that stretch, and finished with a 5-2 flourish to head into the Big East Tournament with a 9-9 record. Like Texas Tech, they won their first round game (a 109-106 horse race with Providence) before bowing (to Notre Dame, 68-56), in a game unofficially dubbed a “play-in” to the NCAAs. This is the season where every game is the last game, and each team just wants to keep playing. Join RTC as we go to the Rock tonight for Texas Tech at Seton Hall in the opening round of the 2010 National Invitational Tournament.

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2010 NIT Bracket Released

Posted by rtmsf on March 15th, 2010

We know that some people will be looking for this Monday morning, so here it is… your 2010 NIT bracket.

Pretty compelling evidence that Illinois, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Virginia Tech were the last four out of the NCAAs, eh?

Keep in mind that if the NCAA Tournament expands to 96 teams, all of the above would have been added to our field.  This means that fourteen additional BCS teams would have been added to the Big Dance, making it a grand total of 46 total teams from the super six conferences.  Of the 73 schools in those leagues, that would represent 63% making the expanded tournament (vs. 49% now).  Do we really need teams like Texas Tech, St. John’s and UNC in the field this year?  Of course not.

One other interesting note is that the NIT shows the depth of some of these leagues by how many additional bids they receive.  The Big East (+5) has 13 teams going to either the NCAA or NIT, while the ACC (+3) has nine.  The SEC (+2), Big Ten (+2), Big 12 (+1) and Pac-10 (+1) make up the rest.  What’s amazing is just how poor the Pac-10 was this year, with only three teams among the top 96 in America.

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