NIT, CIT and CBI Tournaments Seek 64 Teams for Post-Season Play

Ken KraetzerCorrespondent IIMarch 11, 2011

You are a mid-major college basketball team and got beat at the buzzer in your conference championship, you were on the wrong side of the NCAA bubble, you were the 12th team in the Big East, or your RPI approaches three digits. 

You are not going to be one of the 68 teams in the "Big Dance" and will be watching "One Shining Moment" on television or hand held mobile device.

No good team likes the idea of their season ending, especially seniors facing the end of their college playing careers.

However if your team has an above .500 record, was competitive during the year and can travel or host a game on short notice, there are three post season tournaments that can give you one more chance to play for a title:

The longstanding National Invitation Tournament, and two recent additions, the College Basketball Invitational and the Tournament. 

The NIT goes back to 1938, starting a year before the NCAA Tournament and through the 1960s was considered by many to be the more prestigious of the two. 

Then the NCAA expanded their field, the John Wooden era at UCLA, the Larry Bird-Magic Johnson final in 1979, and extensive national television coverage started to make the "Big Dance" an annual mega event.

The NIT, playing its first three rounds at campus sites, then the last two rounds in spring-time New York City , is considered an attraction because of its history and the opportunity for teams and their fans to visit the "Big Apple". 

In 2010 the NIT was won by Dayton in a 79-68 win over North Carolina. 

The NIT will invite 32 teams this year with the first three rounds held at campus sites and the semis and finals held at Madison Square Garden.  The NIT will hold a selection show on Sunday March 13th at 9:00 P.M. 

Games will start two nights later so selection begins and a wild time begins for participants making arrangements to host games or make travel plans for visiting teams.  

Very few teams do not accept an invitation from the NIT because it provides a highly competitive event and a longstanding championship banner to play for.

But not everyone is invited and two new post season tournaments have emerged to give post-season life to 32 more teams around the country.

Going into its fourth season in 2011 is the College Basketball Invitational produced by the Gazelle Group of Princeton, NJ. 

This is a 16 team tournament played at campus sites in four rounds with a novel best of three series played by the final two teams.  

In the finals, each participant plays a home game with the third game played at the second campus site.  The event is open to teams which have at least a .500 record. 

In 2010 the VCU Rams defeated Saint Louis Billikins in two straight games. 

Among the notable participants were Princeton, George Washington, Hofstra, Colorado State, Oregon State and Duquesne. 

In 2009 Oregon State defeated Texas El Paso.  In 2008 Tulsa defeated Bradley two games to one. 

In 2011 the College Basketball Invitational will start its first round on Tuesday, March 15th, with the best of three championship series starting on Monday March 28th.  

The Championship will be played at Madison Square Garden in New York again this year on March 29 and 31.

Another sixteen team tournament is organized by the Boston-based and is called the Postseason Tournament, which started in 2009. 

Joe Dwyer is the site's publisher, and will pick teams after the NCAA and NIT have announced their pairings and presumably will compete with the CBI for the balance of available schools with acceptable records. 

The event announced in February that NFL players Antonio Gates and Vincent Jackson of the San Diego Chargers who will join the selection committee with former coaches Lefty Driesell, Hugh Durham, Jim Harrick, Lou Henson, Ben Jobe, Jim Pleban and committee chair Rile Wallace, the former head coach at Hawaii.

“I am very pleased to be working with,” said Wallace. “I think speak for countless coaches when I say that has been a major asset to the game of college basketball. This tournament was created to give deserving teams, which would otherwise be overlooked, a chance to compete for a postseason championship. “

In 2009 Old Dominion defeated Bradley in the championship game of the "CIT" and Missouri State was the 2010 winner. 

The event is quick to point out that Old Dominion made it to the NCAA field the following year in 2010. 

Among the coaches of past CIT participants who speak in positive terms of their experience are Ed Cooley of Fairfield, Ed Conroy of Tulane, Kermit Davis of Middle Tennessee State, Milan Brown of Holy Cross and Tommy Dempsey of Rider.

One team looking to keep it season going are the 22-11 Iona Gaels. 

Iona finished its season Monday night losing to Saint Peter's in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Championship game, a disappointing loss after wining nine straight going into that game.

New Rochelle, NY based Iona has an RPI of 69 which puts them in NIT consideration. 

Fortunately for mid-major teams like Iona, the NIT, CIT and the CBI tournaments, which have joined the college basketball post-season world, provide more games for deserving teams.

Iona College Sports Information Director Brian Beyrer comments,  "When you lose your last game of the season, it leaves a bad taste in your mouth.  It is great to have the opportunity of another tournament championship to play for."


Ken Kraetzer covers Iona basketball and West Point football for WVOX 1460 and located in New Rochelle, NY.  He can be reached on