When did the NCAA tourney overtake the NIT as the tournament to be in? I know that the NIT started its tourney one year before the NCAA tourney.

It also had the best teams in the country in the tourney, and the final was in NYC. I don’t know if the NIT champion was always the national champion, but that was the perception for the team that won it.

I know that at least until the 50’s the NIT was supreme. There was a team that lost in the first round of the NIT and was inserted into the NCAA tourney and ended up winning it.

But somewhere along the line, the NCAA flipped it, and its tourney is the one to win, and the NIT is full of bubble teams that really wanted to play in the NCAA

Anyone have any idea?

Probably 1945.

Henry Iba’s OAMC Aggies won the NCAAs, then beat the NIT winner, DePaul, shortly thereafter in a Red Cross charity game. That team featured a 7 foot Bob Kurland who helped get the goaltending rule instituted and dunked before dunking was cool.

That team then repeated in 1946, cementing the NCAAs as the premier tourney.

The NCAA Tournament has the backing of the NCAA and they can change the rules to make themselves the top dog. They made a rule that any NCAA school that gets an invite has to accept it. Then they kept expanding the tournament to gather in all the top schools.

I didn’t realize until poking around just now that the NCAA has run the NIT since 2005. (Well, they bought the rights for ten years. The organization they bought them from - the Metropolitan Basketball Writers Association - apparently has no other reason to exist and has disbanded itself until 2015.)

Interestingly, it appears that they bought the rights to the NIT specifically to settle an antitrust lawsuit concerning the mandatory-acceptance-of-NCAA-bids policy that sitchensis mentions.

Is there any good reason for the NIT to exist aside from giving degenerate gamblers who are really down in the hole another opportunity to break even?

Why not play it? The participants seem to enjoy it, and the final 4 teams get to play in Madison Square Garden in NYC, which is still a big deal that not every college player gets to enjoy.

Any more? Not really. The winner is the 66(67?)th-best team in college basketball, a somewhat auspicious honor.

The NIT used to be the premier tournament, though. This is nothing more than a vestige of that, and it allows fans of the participating schools to see a few more games. There are worse reasons for things to exist.

Some jokester in the crowd always has the tongue in cheek “We’re #65!!! We’re #65!!!” sign after the NIT Championship game. :smiley:

I don’t think anyone really believes that is the case. The winner of the NIT is typically a middle of the road team from a major conference. I dont think anyone would argue that a #16 seed team in the NCAA Tourney would consistently beat that team. There are a lot of mediocre conferences whose winner gets an automatic bid to NCAA.

I did a little research and found that there are 68 teams (all 4 16-seed games are now play-ins) with 31 automatic bids. Those 31 teams have to win their conferences, 30 of them have to win their conference tournaments (the Ivy league doesn’t have a tournament).

No matter how mediocre a conference is, playing 30+ games, qualifying for their tournaments, and winning it is no easy task. Few of those teams are lucky to make the field.

Even so, that leaves 37 at-large spots. Granted, due to the subjective nature of the selection process teams like Colorado and Virginia Tech get left out in any given year, but even so they can then compete in and win the MIT. Virtually all of the teams that should make the NCAA tournament do in fact make the tournament.

I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say that the winner of the MIT is the 69th-best team in college basketball when their total body of work is taken into account. I would suggest that their omission means little because high seeds very rarely go anywhere in the tournament and 16 seeds are DOA so it matters little in any case.

I don’t see how a team winning the same tourney two years in a row cements the NCAA as the premier tourney.

according to Wiki, the first 15 years of the NIT were more or less considered national champions. So, that takes the 1938 tournament to 1953 (approx) for being the premier tourney. Also, the winner of the NCAA tourney sometimes played in the NIT tourney afterwards. Only once did the NCAA winner take the NIT. Twice the NCAA winner lost in the first round of the NIT.

This may not be as easy as pointing to a specific year. The tourneys were set up differently. The NCAA was originally restricted to conference champions, while the NIT selected the best teams it wanted in its tourney.

Clearly in the mid 50’s things started to shift to the NCAA, but even as late as 1970, Marquette, no. 8 in the country, turned down the NCAA bid to play in the NIT. Also, there were a LOT more independent teams back in the 60’s, so they weren’t anyone’s conference champion.

interesting history… there doesn’t appear to be a definitive point where the two tourneys changed in importance.

I don’t think this is reasonable at all. Looking at the teams that won the NIT in the past 10 years (or even made the finals) would IMO have no trouble with the 13 and below seeds in the NCAA.

I do think it’s reasonable to say that the winner of the NIT would NOT win the NCAA, and probably wouldn’t have if they had a chance to be part of the NCAA tourney. However, I’d bet on Colorado or VaTech winning the NCAA’s before Alabama State.

Why pick on the NIT, which at least has some residual history and prestige going for it? Riper targets are the 16-team CBI and the 24-team tournaments, which require teams which couldn’t even make the NIT to pay to get in.

The CBI even included one team (Oregon) with a losing record.

Why do these tournaments exist? Because they make money for their organizers. The participating schools may lose money, but they’re desperate for exposure and extra playing time. And the NCAA can’t refuse to sanction them without opening itself up to more antitrust suits.

This is what I was going to say. Winning the NIT is a pretty big deal. It shows that you were NCAA tourney quality, but basically missed the cut(which is, their fault of course).

I think the last team to spurn the NCAA tournament for the NIT was Al McGuire’s Marquette team in 1970, who were ranked 8th in the final poll. McGuire did not like the Regional location they were placed in for the NCAA tournament, so they went to the NIT and won it. That’d be akin to Duke saying “f-u” to the NCAA for seeding them in the Anaheim Region this year and going to the NIT instead.

But even before 1970 the NIT was clearly seen as the inferior tournament.

ETA: D’oh…could have sworn I didn’t see Marquette mentioned in this thread already…

This is not accurate. The play-in games are broken down as follows:

The bottom four automatic bids: These four teams are playing for two of the #16 seeded spots (in the East and Southeast regions this year).

The bottom four at-large bids: These four teams are playing for two of the spots traditionally awarded to the final at-large picks. Usually the #12 seed, but this year they’ve selected the #12 and #11 (in the East and Southwest regions respectively) seeded spots.

I noticed this too, and actually think it’s a great idea. The play in games for 16 seeds are basically pointless. A play-in game for one of the last teams in against one of the first last teams out. That’s a great way to give the first round game some importance, and gives the teams playing incentive to play hard to win. 12’s beat 5’s all the time.