They say they'll compete with the NIT for field-of-65 rejects, but for at least the first couple of seasons, they have to be low on the pecking order. It's only going to be a 16-team field, all games at campus sites.
The best part? The final will be a best of 3 series, higher seed hosting games 1 and 3. Had this tournament been in last season, looking at just the RPI at the end of the season, you could have wound up with this schedule:
March 31- Hawaii at Connecticut April 2- Conneticut at Hawaii April 4- Hawaii at Connecticut
You could also get this orgy of postseason basketball:
March 29-30- NCAA Regional Finals March 31- CBI Finals, game 1 April 1- NIT Semifinals April 2- CBI Finals, game 2 April 3- NIT Championship April 4- CBI Finals, game 3 April 5- NCAA National Semifinals April 7- NCAA National Championship
If this becomes a showcase for the 2nd-and 3rd-place teams in the 1-bid leagues, I could see it working. If it becomes the landing place for the 10th place team in the Big East, and the lower reaches of the SEC, Big Ten and ACC, it's going to die a quick death.
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This tournament is the greatest thing ever, and let me illustrate why:
Loyola University Chicago (Horizon League) 2005-6: 19-11, no playoffs 2006-7: 21-11, no playoffs
I know it's actually a cynical attempt at grabbing revenue by creating more post season games, and I'd much rather see an expanded NIT (which was just dropped down from 40 to 32 last year) than a Third Champion. However, if your rooting interest is part of the half of Division I with a minimal shot of making the NCAAs in any given year, you take your post seasons without question.
Now if they just had done this before all but one starter graduated...
I'd like for them to pick one big conferences and mid-majors and the real greatest possible PR move would be to hold a slot for the loser of the Play In game, but it's going to be hard to turn down that State school money. That they're not limiting it teams over .500 may mean we see some reaches.