The National Invitation Tournament (NIT) is the oldest tournament in college basketball. The NIT was started in 1938. It was the first national postseason collegiate tournament to be played in the country. The NCAA followed 1 year later with a tournament of their own.
The tournament was originally played entirely at Madison Square Garden in New York. The opening rounds of the tournament were later moved from New York to campus sites in 1977. The Garden was reserved solely for the semifinals and the finals. This is currently how the tournament is still played.
When the tournament first started in 1938, the original field consisted of only 6 teams. It was later expanded to 8 teams in 1941, 12 teams in 1949, 14 teams in 1965 16 teams in 1968, 24 teams in 1979, 32 teams in 1980 and finally to 40 teams in 2002. Over the years, the NIT has provided many memories.
In between Temple winning the first NIT title in 1938 behind a defensive center named Meyer Bloom and Nebraska winning its first basketball title of any kind in 1996, there have been many memories. Some of these memories include, Abe Lemons of Oklahoma City being so mad at his team at halftime that he kept them out on the floor for a shirts vs. skins scrimmage in 1968. No, there was no miracle comeback. Duke won the game. Another great memory came in 1970 from Al Maguire of Marquette who turned down the NCAA bid to play in the NIT. His Warriors won the tournament that year with a dream guard named Dean Meminger.
Throughout the duration of the tournament, the NIT has seen many great players. Some of the former MVP’s include such NBA players as:
George Mikan, DePaul (1945)
Lenny Wilkens, Providence (1960)
Walt Frazier, Southern Illinois (1967)
Ralph Sampson, Virginia (1980)
Reggie Miller, UCLA (1985)
Jayson Williams, St. John’s (1989)
Adam Keefe, Stanford (1991)
Bryant Stith, Virginia (1992)
Voshon Lenard, Minnesota (1993)
Erick Strickland, Nebraska (1996)
Robert Traylor, Michigan (1997)