Well, clearly the NIT tournament is not one that everyone gets excited about, but some teams that do not make the NCAA tournament are able to continue playing, and have even been able to make a statement in the NIT in past years.
After being one of the big snubs in the NCAA tournament, SMU was given the No.1 overall seed. SMU was ranked in the top 25, but due to the lack of strength of the American Athletic Conference, the committee did not feel that they qualified to play in the NCAA tournament.
SMU had a successful season until the end, much like Syracuse, and the Mustangs didn't have consecutive losses until ending the regular season with losses to Top 25 teams Louisville and Memphis. Following that, they suffered an embarrassing loss to Houston in the first round of the tournament.
The SMU Mustangs are led by veteran coach Larry Brown, and are clearly the favorite to the win the NIT. They are joined by Minnesota, St. Johns, and Florida State as teams from major conferences that each have a chance at winning the NIT.
@ncaa killed smu fball 20 years ago, now they are going for their basketball team by making them the only top 25 team not in the tournament
— ken adams (@hikinadams) March 18, 2014
The disappointed coach spoke on his team's NIT appearance when saying "We could have beaten Louisville at home. ... We didn't play our best game at Memphis, but we didn't get blown out by either team. But when we didn't beat Houston, I kind of thought this could possibly happen."
The moment that every college basketball fan had been waiting for finally happened last night when the selection show revealed where each team would be heading in the NCAA tournament, and those who would be left out, heading to the NIT instead.
tragic "SMU Mens Basketball courtside. pic.twitter.com/y4PmhtbnKS”
— Tyrone (@TyroneOnPhones) March 16, 2014
Florida leads the way in the NCAA tournament with the No.1 overall seed, but this year could see anyone heading to the championship, and it might not be a surprise, in a year that has seen several top teams go up and down throughout the season.
Florida Gulf Coast, who many people will probably remember as the No.15 seed that made the "Sweet 16" from last year, is also in the NIT tournament, and will play against Florida State in the first round. SMU opens the tournament against UC Irvine from the Big West conference on Wednesday night.
As opposed to the NCAA tournament, which now features 68 teams, the NIT is only host to a group of 32 teams. The NIT bracket includes 13 automatic qualifiers, which are teams that won their regular-season conference titles without getting an NCAA bid.
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