While a number of teams in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) are disappointed after being snubbed by the NCAA tournament committee, others are looking to make a statement. Which teams prove to be which is always the big question entering the tournament, and the 2019 field features a number of teams who had a chance to make the dance.
For a few of them, such as UNC Greensboro and North Carolina State, there’s surely some frustration, as they put strong resumes on paper but still got left out. Both of those teams will host first-round NIT games, although the Wolfpack surprisingly is not a No. 1 seed in the 32-team tournament.
We’re going to take a look at the full bracket along with a few of the top teams to watch and key matchups that stand out.
2019 NIT Bracket & Matchups
The NIT bracket is filled in a unique fashion, as any team who wins their regular-season conference title but doesn’t make the NCAA tournament gets an automatic bid. From there, the bracket is built from at-large selections of who the committee believes is the best of the bunch, per the NCAA.
As far as the seeding goes, the higher seeds play on their home court until the semifinals when the games move to Madison Square Garden. Last year, the winner of the NIT was the Penn State Nittany Lions, with the TCU Horned Frogs winning the year before.
Teams & Players to Watch in 2019 NIT
UNC Greensboro is an obvious choice, as some believed they would get in the dance even after losing in their conference tournament. The Spartans finished the year at 28-6 and aside from a loss to Furman, their only slip-ups came against tournament teams including Wofford, LSU and Kentucky.
NC State and Clemson were at one point believed to be battling for a spot in the NCAA tournament with their postseason matchup, but that obviously didn’t prove to be the case. The Wolfpack won that game, but both teams enter the NIT as No. 2 seeds. Another No. 2 seed worth noting is the Texas Longhorns, who finished at 16-16 and had a bleaker outlook in terms of their tournament hopes.
As for a few players worth keeping an eye on, No. 8 seeded Campbell has the nation’s top scoring player in Chris Clemons. The senior guard has averaged 30.0 points per game while shooting 44.8 percent from the field. His scoring mark comes in a full three points per game higher than anyone else in the country.
And while UNC Greensboro will have to slow down Clemons in round one, NC State draws the second-leading scorer in the country in Hofstra guard Justin Wright-Foreman. The 6-foot-2 guard has averaged 27.0 points while shooting a superb 51.1 percent from the field and 42.9 percent from beyond the arc.
There are a number of games to keep an eye on, and the NIT could provide a few surprise teams capable of grabbing attention with some big upsets.