What’s the difference between the NCAA and NIT tournaments? Are the NIT teams from smaller schools, or those with less than stellar records? Was there ever a time when the NIT was more prestigious than the NCAA? Was thought ever given to having the teams winning the two tournaments playing against each other?
The NIT came first, and for many years it was the more prestigious tournament. Back in about the 1960s, as conferences became more dominant, the NCAA tournament started locking up the conference champions, and later on the major independents. Once the NCAA tournament became home for the real powerhouses, the NIT fell back to getting the leftovers.
In 1944, NCAA champ Utah played NIT champ St. John’s in a fundraiser for the war effort. Utah had lost in the first round of the NIT and then got to go to the NCAA tournament when Arkansas had to pull out after two of its players were injured and couldn’t field a team.
This was all possible because both tournaments were played at Madison Square Garden.
I don’t think many people will be clamoring for a game between Duke and Tulsa to settle who’s the best.
In 1970, Marquette turned down an NCAA bid to play in the NIT. No one has done that since.
The NIT is one year older than the NCAA tournament (1938 to 1939).
In 1950, CCNY won both tournaments, which weren’t played simultaneously as they are now.