Still Wanna Dance? There's Always the Hop
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13 regular-season conference champions this season were all dressed up with nowhere to go.
But their triumphs over the long haul were trumped by college basketball's version of drug rushes and one night stands, the instant gratification of getting hot in conference tournaments and claiming an invitation to the Big Dance.
After being stood up by the NCAA Selection Committee, if they want to keep playing, those schools must join 19 others who had decent -- not great, but decent -- seasons, guarantee they can draw a minimum gate if they get a home game, and dream about spending a weekend at Madison Square Garden.
They'll be going to that playoff purgatory known as the National Invitation Tournament.
The bracket was hastily assembled amidst the remnants of broken dreams last night. If you're a player, you know the abbreviations. If you're a fan, consider it a trivia test:
If you want this in printable form and/or want to make sense of the abbreviations, here it is. You're welcome.
Nowadays, the NIT champions can cut down the nets and claim "We're No 69!" But it wasn't always that way. Check out this old highlight clip from 1950, when the City College of New York became the only team to win both the NIT and NCAA tourney titles, and note which event was mentioned first:
Here's a summary providing more detail of the relationship between the two tourneys back then:
But when television 'discovered' college basketball and the NCAA finally realized the cash cow it had in the barn, it simply pulled rank, expanded its field, and left the NIT to pick through the leftovers, thus consigning its version of the dance to the archives of black-&-white memories.