The National Inviational Tournament has a proud tradition which has been greatly diminished since the 1970’s. The NIT is the second-oldest men’s collegiate basketball tournament next to the NAIA tournament, which was founded in 1937 by Dr. James Naismith. The NIT was first played in 1938, and the NCAA Tournament in 1939. Source: Wikipedia
Kentucky has participated in the NIT 10 times, and won it twice. The most recent trip, of course, was in 2009, where UK won through to the final eight, losing to Notre Dame in South Bend. The last time UK won the NIT was 1975-76. Source: Jon Scott’s BigBlueHistory.net
Today’s NIT is generally considered the consolation prize for teams not quite good enough to make it into the NCAA tournament. The truth is, the NIT contains teams that are generally significantly better on paper than the lowest tier of NCAA teams, especially since the NCAA Tournament was expanded to 68 teams.
No matter what the reality, the perception of the NIT has declined to only slightly above the prestige of the Maui Invitational. Such are the wiles of college basketball and the place of basketball in the pantheon of NCAA athletics, which other than the spectacle of the NCAA Tournament itself, is the second-class citizen of revenue sports.
Tonight, we discover our place in the NIT. I consider it a virtual impossibility for Kentucky not to be invited, if only due to the fact that they will draw more fans than any other team in the tournament, most likely. The financial consideration doesn’t really exist for the NCAA tournament, but it likely does for the NIT.
Whether or not that’s right, this is your open thread for the NIT. Let’s hope that this team will show more energy for it than they had for Vanderbilt in the NIT the other night.
Addendum from Ken: From the University of Kentucky via DeWayne Peevy, Executive Associate AD, concerning Kentucky not hosting its first round NIT contest:
"We did not place a bid to host the first round of the NIT due to limited staff availability to properly host a game at Memorial Coliseum. Because the University of Kentucky is hosting the NCAA second- and third-round games at Rupp Arena on March 21 and 23, the facility was not available for a first round NIT game. We placed a bid to host both the second round and quarterfinal games at Rupp Arena if we advance."