NIT Plays Second Fiddle to the Big Dance

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The NIT got off to a strong start last night even though it is being overshadowed by the First Four of the NCAA tournament. There were eight games in the NIT last night and they didn’t disappoint. Five of the eight NIT games were decided by two possessions or less. Dawson Garcia hit two free throws with 5.3 seconds left as Minnesota beat Butler 73-72 in the closest NIT game last night.

NIT Plays Second Fiddle to the Big Dance
Georgia beat Xavier last night 78-76 in NIT play.

Silas Demary’s shot with 25 seconds left put Georgia up 78-74 over Xavier. The Musketeers would score late, but would eventually fall 78-76. Boston College (20-15) played a defensive battle with Providence (21-14) and won 62-57 to advance to the next round. Last year’s NIT champion, North Texas (19-14), got off to a good start with an 84-77 win over LSU (17-16). Can the Mean Green do something no team has done since 2005-06?

History of the NIT

The National Invitation Tournament (NIT) started in 1938, one year after basketball’s founder James Naismith started the NAIA tournament. The NCAA tournament did not begin until 1939. The NIT was once the most prestigious of all postseason college basketball tournaments. 

The original field was just six teams, but that number expanded to eight in 1941. The tournament continued to expand until it hit 32 teams in 1980 and 40 beginning in 2002. After COVID, the tournament elected to go back to the 32-team format. 

The early NIT was extremely successful because all games were played at Madison Square Garden. In those early days of college basketball, there wasn’t as much media coverage of the sport. Playing all the NIT games in New York City put the sport in the media spotlight.

NIT Plays Second Fiddle to the Big Dance
The NIT Final Four is still played at Madison Square Garden.

The NIT was considered the most prestigious CBB tournament well into the 1950s. Many teams played in both tournaments in the same season. In 1950, the City College of New York became the only team to win both the NIT and NCAA tournaments in the same season. Incidentally, CCNY defeated Bradley in the championship game of both tournaments.

As the NCAA began to expand its tournament field in the 1970s, that event gained in popularity. With the rise of the NCAA tournament, came the fall of the NIT. The NIT, of course, invites teams to its 32-team field that did not make the NCAA cut. This year’s NIT championship game will be held at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on April 4.

Back-to-Back on the Leaderboard

With so many outstanding handicappers, it’s hard to repeat as the daily leader. That’s exactly what Sports Central did yesterday. Make it two straight for Sports Central, which is putting together a nice run recently. More on that in a moment.

The rest of yesterday’s Top 5 was made up of Sports Hub exclusive cappers. They all pocketed at least $180 and all four can only be found right here at SportsHub. If you’re planning on a successful run through the NIT or NCAA tournament, visit the members’ area now and check out our top college basketball handicappers.

Here’s how the leaderboard played out yesterday.

  • Day 2: It was the second day in a row for Sports Central at the top of the leaderboard. SC went 7-1 on eight picks and earned $512. That makes it $682 for the week, $1553 for the last two weeks, and SC is No. 6 on the 30-day leaderboard with a winning percentage of nearly 55 percent.
  • All hoops, all wins: James Acker went 4-0 on four basketball picks and earned $400. Two of those picks were on college basketball games last night, both of which were NIT games. 
NIT Plays Second Fiddle to the Big Dance
The Hawk has been consistent the last two weeks.
  • The Hawk returns: Mike Hawk has been among our most consistent cappers lately. He went 6-2 and earned $392 in profits yesterday. He’s now No. 1 on both the 7-day ($945) and 14-day ($1630) leaderboards. For the month, Mike is 99-74 (57.23%) and is up $1816.
  • Double play: Sports Hub experts Kyle Parker and Ashlee Kiddell both went 2-0 last night. Kyle added $200 to his bankroll while Ashlee hit two NBA picks and earned $180.

Seven More NIT Games Tonight 

The First Four takes center stage, of course, with two more play-in games tonight. Colorado has a chance to put both of its state schools in the NCAA tournament’s first round. Colorado State beat Virginia last night in a game that could have put any college basketball fan to sleep. 

The NIT first round continues tonight with seven more games. There is the usual NBA and NHL tonight, but there is also something very interesting going on in MLB.

Let’s check it out.

  1. First Four: Tonight’s First Four games include Montana State playing Grambling with the winner becoming a No. 16 seed in the Midwest region. Colorado faces Boise State in the other game. The winner becomes the No. 10 seed in the Midwest.
  2. NIT Night 2: After eight games to kick off the NIT last night, there are seven more first round games tonight. “Cream Abdul Jabbar,” aka Robbie Avila, leads Indiana State (28-7) against SMU. Villanova plays host to VCU.
  1. NBA: ESPN has a doubleheader on tap for tonight. Milwaukee will face Boston beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET to get things started. Golden State hosts Memphis at 10:00 p.m. in the second game of the doubleheader.
  2. NHL: The NHL has its own doubleheader tonight. Toronto plays at Washington in the first game. The puck drops at 7:30 p.m. ET. The late game has Minnesota at Los Angeles with a start time of 10:00 p.m. ET. TNT will broadcast both games.
  3. Soccer: The US Open Cup continues with 12 matches today. Three international friendlies are on the schedule too, as is a ton of South American soccer.
  4. Tennis: The first round of the Miami Open is underway. Naomi Osaka and Sofia Kenin both play today in women’s action. Andy Murray faces Italy’s Matteo Berrettini in a men’s first round match today.
  5. Seoul Series: The Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres kicked off the 2024 MLB regular season yesterday in Seoul, South Korea. The teams will play one more game tomorrow before heading back to the states.

Seoul Series Features Dodgers, Padres

Game 2 of MLB’s Seoul Series will take place in South Korea. The Dodgers and Padres will play once more before heading home. Opening Day here in the US is scheduled for Thursday, March 28. All 30 teams will play. The Mets and Brewers start things off with a 1:10 p.m. ET first pitch.

Baseball isn’t the only thing trending right now.

  • Rodgers gets new weapon in New York: Former Chargers WR Mike Williams has signed a one-year deal with the Jets. Williams tore an ACL in Week 3 last season. He had two 1,000-yard seasons with the Bolts. He’ll pair nicely with Garrett Wilson, who had 1,000 yards-plus in each of his first two NFL seasons.
  • Kansas star out for NCAA tournament: Leading scorer Kevin McCullar Jr. will miss the entire NCAA tournament. He missed six of the final 12 games of the season with a bone bruise on his right knee. 
  • Dodgers win: The Boys in Blue won the 2024 MLB season’s opening game, a 5-2 Dodgers win over the Padres. Shohei Ohtani started the new season with two hits, including an RBI single in a four-run eighth inning that gave Los Angeles the victory.

Enjoy March Madness

It’s still just the First Four, but the NCAA tournament is here. Don’t forget, there are seven NIT games tonight too. Plenty of college basketball to bet on tonight. Make sure you visit the Sports Hub picks database before making your own picks for today’s games.

The Big Dance gets underway tomorrow. We’ll be here for you through the entire tournament. Our expert cappers will have thousands of picks available. Dive into the Sports Hub members’ area and check out our hottest college basketball cappers. Then, get ready to win!