Well now we wait. Unlike last season when NDSU was a surpise postseason entrant into the CBI and lost at Wyoming last March. The only surprise that will come this Selection Sunday is if NDSU somehow finds its way into the NIT, which as most everyone knows is the little brother to the NCAA’s but still for a program like NDSU an NIT berth would be huge. Besides the 68 that makes the NCAA’s another 80 schools will play postseason basketball this March/April ranging from the NIT(32 teams); the CIT(expanded to 32 this year) and the CBI (16). NDSU will find its way into most likely either the NIT or the CBI; the latter just because of the history that NDSU has with the Gazelle Group, that’s the outfit that runs the CBI and has put NDSU into its 2 preseason tournaments the last two years, first at Oregon and this year at Indiana and has an impressive lineup for next season. For those that don’t follow the NIT super close, that selection committee is similar to the NCAA, for the smaller conference schools that don’t win their conference tournament; they get an automatic bid into the NIT and with the havoc that’s been going on this week, bids may be getting smaller by the day. Already 9 teams have locked up spots in the NIT: Mercer(A-Sun); Stony Brook(America East); Charleston Southern (Big South); Northeastern (CAA); Niagara (MAAC); Robert Morris (NEC); Middle Tennessee(Sun Belt); Norfolk State(MEAC) and Louisiana Tech (WAC).
That only leaves 23 spots left and with the tournament being completely televised by ESPN, they are going to want some big name schools in this field. NDSU has an impressive record (24-9) and RPI (78 on Thursday night). Saul Phillips said after the Summit League final this team “deserves to be in the NIT.” He cited NDSU’s record with Taylor Braun in the lineup (19-4; the 4 losses being to Indiana, Minnesota, Green Bay and SDSU) It’s not mandated that every conference be represented in the NIT, but NDSU is the only shot the Summit League will have for this tournament. The NIT Selection Show is at 8pm on ESPN U Sunday night. If it’s not the NIT, the CBI is up next, that’s 16 teams and possibly a better shot of another home game. Now last I remember to host a game in this tournament you need to pay 30K to do it; now I can’t imagine NDSU doing that; especially knowing that there’s no way that that money would be recouped; unlike football where NDSU put down a huge sum to try and host a first round playoff game in 2010. This tournament is also televised by Mark Cuban’s network the former HDTV, now AXS TV; avid college hoops fans know that’s where the Gophers played in the Bahamas Tournament over Thanksgiving. Finally is the CIT; which has expanded this year from 24 teams to 32 this season, that’s where UND has went the last two years as champion of the Great West; ironically I think they may be going there again last year after a win tonight in the Big Sky Tournament.
There are 148 teams that will play postseason basketball this year out of 347 Division 1 schools; and NDSU for the 2nd straight year and third time in its D1 history will be playing as well. I think this team has a chance to win a game in one of these tournaments and that can be another huge step for a program that’s taken some big steps this year, from highest RPI ranking ever; to a BracketBuster TV game, to a return trip to the Summit Title game. The future looks bright for this team and can end on a good note starting Sunday. I’ll be following the smaller conference tournaments this weekend on Twitter (@DomIzzoWDAY) and will have a late night Bracketology ramblings on Sunday night.
One football note, Craig Bohl confirmed to me that junior running back John Crockett had surgery on a slight break in his right wrist; Bohl says that Crockett will have limited work this spring and joins a laundry list of starters that may or may not see the field this spring(Crockett; Beck, Ryan Smith, Colville, Perry and Heagle). Bohl also added that he’s hoping April 1st or 3rd for the official start of spring football depending on the weather.