The NIT: The Participation Award of College Basketball

Photo by Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY Sports/ Posted by: Curt Ashcraft (@cashcraft740)

Edited by: Tommy Parrill (@DearTommy)

I want to begin by saying that I apologize for not posting an article on Friday, but this week’s Free for All Friday has landed on Sunday and I promise it won’t disappoint.  This last week, I received a text message from my friend who attends Baylor University and she was going on and on about how her Bears won the National Invitation Tournament and my Buckeyes got bounced in the Elite Eight.  Me being the nice guy that I am, I let her continue on her soapbox but then the conversation got me thinking.  How much of an honor is it to win the NIT?  Back in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, it was an honor to be invited to the NIT because you got to play at Madison Square Garden, which was every basketball players dream.  Nowadays, it is the NCAA Tournament that is king.  When this season began, colleges all over the country were dreaming about playing in Atlanta at the Final Four, not New York City at the NIT title game.  It is because of this that I believe that the NIT is a thing of the past and along with being a laughing stock of college basketball, it is a participation award for sucking eggs and missing out on March Madness.

In 2008, the Ohio State Buckeyes won the NIT and some Buckeye fans were extremely excited.  Personally, I couldn’t have cared less.  Ok, I understand that you can get excited about the Bucks winning a tournament and it isn’t a big deal if Ohio State doesn’t make it to the dance, but winning the NIT is just a nightmare of what could’ve been.  The competition may have not been that great, but still,what happened during the regular season? Hell, some of the teams that you play in the tournament, you already played during the regular season and even lost to them!   The motivation should be to win what you can during the regular season, win your conference tournament and then make it to the NCAA Tournament.  A team’s motivation shouldn’t come after they realize they didn’t make the dance and fight for a chance to be considered the 69th best team in the country.  Fight me all you want, but if you were better than the rest, you would’ve been in the top 68.

So instead of wasting the time of below average teams and letting them play in the NIT, my solution is simple, eliminate it.  Not many (if any) people watch it, hardly anybody attends the tournament, it will ALWAYS come 2nd to the NCAA and it is just extending the season for teams that have nothing else to play for.  Another thing that I have noticed is that it gives ESPN something to put on television.  Since CBS has March Madness locked down for a quite some time, ESPN figured that they would cover the NIT.  I applaud you for your effort, but let it go.  Nobody watches it, and sense all of your good broadcasting talent is being rented by CBS, your quality is not so good.  The NIT truly comes down to the fact that it is complete waste of sports fans time, and if they are anything like me, they don’t like having their time wasted.

All in all, I will congratulate the Baylor Bears on winning the 2013 National Invitation Tournament, but what did they really win?  The real title game will be played tomorrow night in Atlanta, Georgia where the NCAA will give out the grand prize and the NIT will continue to fade into oblivion.  To the National Invitation Tournament, thanks for the offer but that will be one invitation that I will not RSVP to.