NIT features 14 automatic qualifiers
Colorado, Alabama, Boston College and Va. Tech grab top seeds
INDIANAPOLIS -- The 74th edition of the National Invitation Tournament was released Sunday with a 32-team field that features 23 teams with 20 or more wins and 14 automatic qualifiers, the most since the NIT added the automatic qualifier rule in 2006. Also included in the field is last year’s NIT champion, Dayton, as well as three teams from both the ACC and Big 12.
First-round action on campus sites tips off on March 15 and 16.
Nine games will take place on March 15: No. 1 seed Alabama hosts Coastal Carolina (ESPNU, 7 p.m. ET); UTEP will travel to New Mexico (ESPN2, 9 p.m.); Missouri State will host Murray State; Fairfield will visit Colorado State; Saint Mary’s (Calif.) will host Kent State (ESPN2, 11 p.m.); Boston College is on the road at McNeese State (ESPNU, 9 p.m.); Harvard travels to Oklahoma State (ESPN, 7:30 p.m.) while Dayton visits College of Charleston (ESPN2, 9 p.m.) and Vermont travels to Cleveland State.
The seven remaining games on March 16 feature Florida Atlantic at Miami (Fla.); Texas Southern at Colorado; Mississippi visits California (ESPN2, 9 p.m.); Washington State hosts Long Beach State (ESPNU, 10 p.m.); Milwaukee will be at Northwestern; Virginia Tech is home against Bethune-Cookman (ESPNU, 8 p.m.) and Nebraska visits Wichita State (ESPN2, 7 p.m.).
Second-round play takes place on March 18-21, with quarterfinals tipping on March 22 and 23. The semifinal doubleheader and the championship game will be in New York’s Madison Square Garden on March 29 and 31.
The 14 automatic qualifiers -- the regular-season conference champions not selected to the NCAA Tournament that were guaranteed an invitation to the NIT -- include Bethune-Cookman, Coastal Carolina, College of Charleston, Fairfield, Florida Atlantic, Kent State, Long Beach State, McNeese State, Milwaukee, Missouri State, Murray State, Saint Mary’s (Calif.), Texas Southern and Vermont.