The National Invitation Tournament is changing its selection process in 2024 and will no longer award automatic bids to conference regular-season champions who do not win their conference tournament or are not among the 68 teams selected to play in the men’s NCAA Tournament. The NIT Board of Directors made the announcement on Friday. Here’s what you need to know:
- Going forward, “the NIT will feature two teams (based on NET rankings) from each of the six conferences (Atlantic Coast, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and Southeastern). The top two teams in the NET rankings will be selected as non-tournament qualifiers.” NCAA men’s basketball from each conference, regardless of win-loss record.
- These 12 teams will be guaranteed the opportunity to host a first-round game in the NIT.
- To complete the 32-team field, the NIT will “select the top 20 teams available” and select four teams from that group to be hosts in the first round with priority given to the “top four teams out” of the NCAA Tournament.
What rules are changing?
The NIT Board of Regents and the NCAA Men’s Basketball Rules Committee approved experimental rules for the 2024 tournament, including expanding the free-throw lane from 12 feet to 16 feet. The new route will be consistent with the width used by the NBA and FIBA.
The games will also continue to use a modified time-out format for the second half of games, which was introduced last year. This “eliminates the second half floating media timeout by making it one of five media breaks. Second half media timeouts will occur at the first stop of play after the 17, 14, 8 and 4 minute marks.
What this means for the college basketball landscape
The NIT’s decision to move away from guaranteed spots for all regular-season conference winners who don’t win their respective leagues will undoubtedly strike fear in the mid-majors, and rightfully so.
There are legitimate concerns that as power conferences expand in their boundaries and numbers, the core of college basketball, or specifically the smaller schools, will fall behind. It is fair to see this as a step in that direction. Multiple league sources said in September The athlete That expanding the NCAA Tournament may be necessary to ensure that power conferences do not withdraw from the tournament completely. In a similar vein, Fox has floated the idea of holding a 16-team postseason tournament with only 6 teams in Las Vegas.
And now comes the NIT, eliminating bids previously reserved for mid-range and low-profile conferences. Instead, ineligible Power 6 teams that already have every competitive advantage — the deeper financial pockets of the powerhouse leagues, the built-in scheduling against higher competition to raise the NET and NIL rankings — will be rewarded at the mediocrity level. We’re not talking about second, third or even fourth place finishers in the Power 6. We’re talking about 10th and 11th place in some places. Last season, for example, 16-19 Ohio State could have earned an NIT bid because the Buckeyes and Rutgers were ranked as the top NET holders in the Big Ten for not getting an NCAA bid.
Would the NIT win for North Texas, which had a higher net than the Buckeyes but lost in the C-USA tournament? maybe. Maybe not.
And remember, the NIT falls under the NCAA’s jurisdiction as well. While it may be too early to classify this as an NCAA Tournament trial balloon, sometimes paranoia is justified. — Dana O’Neill is a senior college basketball writer
what are they saying
“The college basketball postseason landscape has become more competitive for teams that do not qualify for March Madness,” Dan Gavitt, NIT Chairman and NCAA Basketball Vice President, said in a statement. “The change in the selection process for the 2024 NIT is a necessary effort to evolve this historic tournament in a dynamic events market.”
(Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty)
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