“Now there is a consolation prize to the consolation prize in men’s basketball. The Gazelle Group, which runs a handful of preseason basketball tournaments, will organize and run a third postseason college basketball tournament to rival the NIT, which is regarded as the consolation prize for teams not selected to participate in the NCAA tournament.””
Now there is a consolation prize to the consolation prize in men’s basketball.
The Gazelle Group, which runs a handful of preseason basketball tournaments, will organize and run a third postseason college basketball tournament to rival the NIT, which is regarded as the consolation prize for teams not selected to participate in the NCAA tournament.
The College Basketball Invitational will be a 16-team tournament that will feature bubble teams that don’t receive at-large bids to play in the NCAA tournament. It’s a single-elimination tournament until the final round, when the championship is decided by a best-of-three series.
The inaugural tournament will be played in March, during the time that the NCAA and NIT tournaments will be played.
Which begs the question: Why? Or more important, who cares?
The NIT, often referred to as the Not Interested Tournament or the Not Invited Tournament or whatever other witticisms bloggers can come up with, is not popular among college basketball fans.
Why? Because the games mean nothing.
In the last 40 years, the NIT has been played with no fan interest and little revenue.
With the CBI, 113 teams will participate in postseason play, which, like the 64 bowl games in football, dilutes the importance of postseason play.
Does anyone without affiliation to the schools involved (or a life) actually watch these games? No.
Will anyone watch the CBI?
The answer to that is also no, considering there is no television deal in place yet and especially not with meaningful games being played in the NCAA tournament at the same time.
Last year, the Zips would have played at Dayton in the first round of the tournament of the CBI, according to a mock bracket the group made.
Think about it, though. The University of Akron missed out on postseason play after winning 26 games. They missed out on the NCAAs by six seconds and were snubbed by the NIT.
Would playing in some obscure tournament have lessened that blow? Maybe a little but, even if they would have played in the NIT, the loss still would have stung and not making the NCAAs after the best season in school history still would have left a bitter taste in fans’ mouths.
That’s why the CBI won’t last, why it can’t last. Fans want to see their team in the NCAA, playing games that matter, playing for a national championship.
The only way having more teams play in postseason tournaments will matter, is if they expand the NCAA tournament to 128 teams.
And even that will not be good for the game.