NIT 2018: Updated Format, Latest Bracketology Predictions and Insight

David McCracken@crackemcFeatured ColumnistMarch 8, 2018

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 07: Braian Angola #11 of the Florida State Seminoles works down the court against Anas Mahmoud #14 of the Louisville Cardinals in the second half during the second round of the ACC Men's Basketball Tournament at Barclays Center on March 7, 2018 in New York City.  (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
Abbie Parr/Getty Images

Just because a school doesn't make the NCAA Tournament it doesn't mean that its season is over just yet. 

While the "Big Dance" certainly has more exposure and credibility under its wing, there are still avenues of postseason play for many schools to participate in. For example, the NIT.

The NIT hosts 32 teams in a single-game elimination tournament, split into four groups of eight and seeded No. 1 through No. 8. This year's NIT bracket is still under construction, as the final field of teams won't be set until Selection Sunday on Mar. 11.

The NIT Selection Special will air Sunday on ESPNU, starting at 8:30 p.m. ET.

         

2018 NIT Dates

March 13-14: 1st round at campus sites

March 15-19: 2nd round at campus sites

March 20-21: Quarterfinals at campus sites

March 27: Semifinals at Madison Square Garden

March 29: Final at Madison Square Garden

Information per NCAA.com.

        

NIT Preview

WICHITA, KS - DECEMBER 22:  Zach Johnson #5 of the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles drives up court against pressure from Samajae Haynes-Jones #4 and Darral Willis Jr. #21 of the Wichita State Shockers during the second half on December 22, 2017 at Charles Koch
Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images

Neither the NIT nor NCAA Tournament's fields are set in stone, but both have a good idea of which schools will be participating.

The NCAA Tournament already boast the likes of Virginia, Duke, Michigan State and Kansas, but the NIT already has five teams booked.

Florida Gulf Coast, Northern Kentucky, Rider, UNC Asheville and Wagner will feature after each team won its respective regular season conference title but failed to win the conference tournaments to guarantee a spot in the NCAA Tournament. 

As for the rest of the field, it's too soon to tell how it will look. But if Louisville, despite the drama surrounding its program, doesn't qualify for the NCAA Tournament, the Cardinals will be in the NIT this season.

Per the Courier Journal, Louisville interim athletic director Vince Tyra said on ESPN Louisville's The Deener Show

"There is a decision to be made. We frankly have already turned in our paperwork. They send the invite, and you have to do it in parallel, that if you do fall to the NIT, that you will indeed accept the bid. So we will play if there is that opportunity. I hope there isn't. I hope we win today and pave the path to go to the NCAA. But if indeed that does happen, we would play."

Louisville could still qualify for the NCAA Tournament with a solid showing through ACC conference play, but the school will face off against No. 1 seeded Virginia on Thursday in tournament play. 

The NIT isn't the most glamorous of postseason tournaments to be a part of, but it's better than no basketball at all. 

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