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NIT-Picking: Big East Teams Dominate Bracket

It has been five years since a team from the Power-5 conferences won the postseason NIT. Will that trend change in this year’s tournament that gets underway on Tuesday?

When looking at the college basketball odds, keep in mind that some teams that could have contended for the NIT title turned down bids or informed the tournament that it was not interested in being a part of the field. Much of that comes down to the current world dominated by the transfer portal and players looking for the best landing spot to take advantage of the Name and Likeness opportunities.

NIT-Picking: Big East Teams Dominate Bracket
Lynn Kidd #15 of the Virginia Tech Hokies/ Greg Fiume/Getty Images/AFP

Indiana, Mississippi, Pittsburgh, St. John’s, and Syracuse are among the teams not taking part in the NIT after failing to earn spots in the March Madness bracket.

Seton Hall, Indiana State, Wake Forest, and Villanova earned top seeds in the NIT. The semifinals are set for April 2 with the championship game on April 4 at 7 p.m. ET at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The game will air on ESPN.

The odds of winning March Madness on Jan. 30 had Villanova at +6000, Seton Hall at +8000, and Ohio State at +10000 are among the teams in the NIT with the best odds of winning the NCAA title. Now those teams are tied for second behind only Wake Forest (+700) in the odds of winning the NIT.

Here’s a closer look at what to expect when the NIT gets underway.


A Look at the Favorites

Indiana State is 28th in the NCAA NET ranking and that is the highest ranking for a team not to receive an invitation into the NCAA tournament.

Indiana State is 28-6 with nine of those wins coming on the road. Robbie Avila, Isaiah Swope, and Ryan Conwell all average more than 16 points per game

Indiana State opens with SMU. Indiana State is priced at +1000 in the NIT championship odds.

Seton Hall owns a double-digit point win over reigning national champion UConn, but that wasn’t enough to get the Pirates into the March Madness bracket as they were among the first four teams out.

Seton Hall finished fourth in the Big East standings during the regular season but only three teams from the Big East are in the NCAA Tournament. Five Big East teams are in the NIT field.

Villanova (+900 to win the NIT), which extended Marquette into overtime in the conference quarterfinals, is another Big East team headed to the NIT rather than the NCAAs. Three-year starter Eric Dixon is among the top players in the tournament.

Wake Forest lost four of six games after a win over Duke and the Demon Deacons’ 0-3 record in one-possession games proved to be too much to overcome. Now Wake Forest is favored at +700 to win the NIT.


1. Breaking Down the Schedule

The tournament gets underway on Tuesday with nine games. Only Ohio State is listed as a double-digit favorite as the Buckeyes face a Cornell team that fell to eventual champion Yale in the semifinals of the Ivy League tournament.

There are some intriguing regional games with South Florida meeting UCF as a showdown of former conference rivals while Boston College is a 3½-point underdog against Providence according to the BetUS sportsbook.

Richmond and Virginia Tech will be meeting for the first time since 2009. Minnesota, which has the best record among NCAA Division I men’s teams against the spread this season, is the underdog against Butler. At the same time, Xavier is the only team with a losing record set to play on Tuesday.


2. A Trip Down Memory Lane

When looking back at the 2023 NIT, the No. 1 and 2 seeds reached the quarterfinals in two of the four brackets, with No. 2 Wisconsin topping No. 1 Oregon 61-58 and No. 2 North Texas edging No. 1 Oklahoma State 65-59 in overtime.

Rutgers and New Mexico were the No. 1 and 2 seeds in their portion of the draw, but both teams dropped their openers to open the door for No. 4 seed Cincinnati to reach the quarterfinals before falling to unseeded Utah Valley.

The final semifinalist was UAB, a No. 4 seed that eliminated second-seeded Vanderbilt.

The second-round game between Vanderbilt and Michigan featured head coaches who were former NBA stars. However, Vanderbilt’s Jerry Stackhouse and Michigan’s Juwan Howard were both recently fired.

In the semifinals, played at Orleans Arena in Paradise, Nevada, it was North Texas edging Wisconsin 56-54 and UAB topping Utah Valley 88-86 in overtime.

UAB was listed by the college basketball lines as a 2½-point favorite but it was North Texas coming away with a 68-61 win to win the NIT.


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Questions Of The Day

Which team in the NIT field had the best odds to win the men’s Division I national title when the season began?

Villanova was priced at +3000 in the odds to win March Madness before the start of the 2023-24 season.

Which college basketball team in the NIT bracket has the best record in the nation against the spread?

Minnesota is 24-8 against Las Vegas college basketball odds with Richmond going 21-10-1 against the spread.


The odds and predictions in the article are based on the time of writing and publication. They may differ as to when the actual event takes place.

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