NIT bid thievery adding up
It wasn’t a great night for NIT bubble teams, like Denver, as two NIT at-large spots disappeared due to low-major conference tourney upsets. #2-seed Lehigh upset #1-seed Bucknell in the Patriot League, and #8-seed Hampton stunned #1-seed Savannah State in the MEAC quarterfinals. That means Bucknell and Savannah State, as regular-season conference champs, will get automatic bids to the NIT.
Add in the win yesterday by #3 Detroit over #1 Valparaiso in the Horizon League, and of course the stunner in Denver’s own Sun Belt that either relegated Middle Tennessee State to the NIT or (less likely) made them an NCAA at-large and thus pushed someone else down into the NIT, and that’s four NIT spots gone.
(Tourney championships for VCU instead of Drexel, South Dakota State instead of Oral Roberts, and Loyola instead of Iona don’t matter as much, since the team that won the NCAA bid, although not a #1 seed, was likely NIT-bound anyway if they’d lost.)
On the bright side, top seeds Long Island (NEC) and Montana (Big Sky) took care of business tonight. But there are lots more opportunities for additional bid thieves to emerge. Denver and other NIT bubble teams need to root hard for the following teams over the coming days: Stony Brook (America East), Akron (MAC), Long Beach State (Big West), UT-Arlington (Southland), Mississippi Valley State (SWAC) and Nevada (WAC).