The 32-team NIT tournament will get underway with first round action on Tuesday with nine games, and will conclude the opening round on Wednesday with seven tilts.
The first four teams out of the NCAA tournament — Colorado State, Temple, Richmond, and Old Dominion — all received No. 1 seeds. The NIT allows teams with the higher seed to host campus games until the semifinals, which will be played at Madison Square Garden in New York on March 31 and the finals on April 2. The second round starts runs March 20-23 and quarterfinals are March 24 and 25.
There are five teams that are playing in the NIT for a second straight season — Louisiana Tech, Iona, Green Bay, Illinois, and St. Mary’s.
“This was a very challenging selection process for a number of reasons,” said Reggie Minton, acting chair of the NIT Selection Committee. “In addition to the 12 institutions which automatically qualified for the NIT and the 20 that we selected with the at-large spots available, there were many others that were worthy of strong consideration into our field.”
Temple (23-10). Temple is making its 18th NIT appearance, after finishing third in the American Athletic. The Owls are 20-15 lifetime in the NIT. Top player: Sr. G Will Cummings (14.2 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 4.3 apg).
Richmond (19-13). The Spiders are making their eighth NIT appearance and are 6-7 lifetime in the tournament. Richmond finished tied for fourth in the A-10. Top players: Sr. G Kendall Anthony (16.6 ppg) and Jr. F Terry Allen (12.4 ppg, 6.3 rpg).
Colorado State (27-6). The Rams are making their eighth NIT appearance and are 6-7 lifetime in the tournament. Colorado State finished third in the Mountain West. Top players Sr.F J.J. Avila (16.6 ppg, 7.3 rpg), Sr. F Stanton Kidd (1.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg) and Sr G. Daniel Bejarano (11.3 ppg, 7.3 rpg).
Old Dominion (24-7). The Monarchs are making their 11th NIT appearance after receiving an at-large bid and are 8-10 in the tournament. Old Dominion finished second in Conference USA. Top player: Jr. G Trey Freeman (17.5 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 3.4 apg).
No. 2 Seeds
Texas A&M (20-11). The Aggies finished tied for third in the SEC but were shocked by Auburn in the SEC tournament, which could have cost them an NCAA bid. Texas A&M is making its seventh NIT appearance where they are 6-6. Top players: Jr. G Danuel House (14.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg) and Jr. G Jalen Jones (13.3 ppg, 6.8 rpg).
Miami (Fla.) (21-12). The Hurricanes are making their 12th NIT appearance and are 7-11 overall. Miami finished sixth in the ACC. Top players: Jr. G Sheldon McClelland (14.7 ppg, 4.6 rpg) and Jr. G Angel Rodriguez (12.2 ppg, 4.0 apg).
Stanford (19-13). Stanford (19-13): Stanford is making its eighth appearance in the NIT where the Cardinal are 13-5 overall. Stanford finished tied for fifth in the conference. Top players: Sr. G Chasson Randle (18.9 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 3.1 apg), Sr. G/F Anthony Brown (14.7 ppg, 7.0 rpg) and Sr. C Stefan Nastic (13.8 ppg, 6.4 rpg).
Tulsa (22-10). The Golden Hurricanes received an at-large bid after finishing second in the American Athletic. Tulsa is making its 11th NIT appearance and is 11-8 overall in the tournament. Top players: Jr. G James Woodard (14.5 ppg, 4.7 rpg) and Jr. G Shaquile Harrison (13.2 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 3.7 apg).
No. 3 Seeds
Louisiana Tech (25-8). The Bulldogs are making their ninth NIT appearance after being crowned Conference USA champions. Louisiana Tech is 10-8 lifetime in the NIT. Top players: Sr. G Raheem Appleby (15.2 ppg), Jr. G Alex Hamilton (15.1 ppg, 3.4 rpg) and So. F Erik McCree (11.8 ppg, 5.7 rpg).
Illinois (19-13). The Illini are making their sixth NIT appearance and are 8-5 lifetime. Illinois finished eighth in the Big Ten and received an at-large bid. Top players Sr. G Rayvonte Rice (16.7 ppg, 6.7 rpg) and So. G Malcolm Hill (14.2 ppg, 4.9 rpg).
Murray State (27-5). The Racers captured the OVC regular season crown to earn an automatic bid. Murray State is making its eighth NIT appearance and is 2-7 lifetime. So. G Cameron Payne (20.3 ppg, 5.8 apg) and Sr. F Jarvis Williams (15.5 ppg, 8.3 rpg).
Rhode Island (22-9). The Rams received an at-large bid after finishing tied for second in the A-10. Rhode Island is making its 15th NIT appearance and is 13-15 all-time. Top players: So. G E.C. Matthews (16.7 ppg, 4.5 rpg) and So. F Hassan Martin (11.4 ppg, 7.6 rpg).
No. 4 Seeds
Pittsburgh (19-14). The Panthers received an at-large bid, their ninth NIT appearance where they are 6-8. Pitt finished ninth in the ACC. Top players: So. F Jamel Artis (13.8 ppg, 5.9 rpg), So. F Michael Young (13.5 ppg, 7.3 RPG).
UConn (20-14). UConn didn’t get a chance to defend its national championship, so the Huskies will attempt to take the NIT crown. The Huskies, who struggled much of the season, is making their 13th appearance in the NIT where they are 15-11. Sr. G Ryan Boatwright (17.1 PPg, 4.8 RPG, 3.8 APG) and Fr. Daniel Hamilton (10.7 ppg, 7.6 RPG, 3.7 apg).
St. Mary’s (21-9). The Gaels received an at-large bid after finishing third in the West Coast Conference. St. Mary’s is making their fourth appearance in the overall and is 3-3 lifetime. Top players Sr. F Brad Waldow (19.3 ppg, 9.0 rpg) and Sr. G Kerry Carter (12.4 ppg, 5.1 rpg).
Illinois State (21-12). The Redbirds are making their 13th appearance in the NIT after receiving an at-large bid. Illinois State finished third in the Missouri Valley and are 8-5 in the NIT appearances. Sr. G Daishon Knight (14.3 ppg, 3.2 rpg) and Jr. G DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell (12.7 ppg, 5.5 rpg).
No. 5 Seeds
George Washington (21-12). George Washington is making its fifth NIT appearance and is winless in their previous four trips to the tournament. The Colonials finished sixth in the A-10. Top players: Jr.G/F Patricio Garino (12.4 ppg, 5.3 rpg), So. G Kethan Savage (11.2 ppg) and Jr. F Kevin Larsen (10.7 ppg, 7.4 rpg).
Arizona State (17-13). The Sun Devils are making their 13th appearance in the NIT and are 6-12 lifetime. ASU finished sixth in the Pac-12. Top players: Sr. G Shaquille McKissic (12.0 ppg 4.5 rpg), So. F Savon Goodman (11.0 ppg, 7.1 rpg) and G Gerry Blakes (10.9 ppg, 4.2 rpg).
Vanderbilt (19-13). Vanderbilt won six-of-last seven games to receive an at-large bid. The Commodores are making their 12th NIT appearance and have a 18-10 tournament record. Top players: Top players: So. C Damian Jones (14.4 ppg, 6.5 rpg) and Fr. G Riley LaChance (12.5 ppg).
Green Bay (24-8). The Phoenix are making their fourth NIT appearance and are 1-3 lifetime. Green Bay received an at-large bid after finishing second in the Horizon. Top players Sr. G Keifer Sykes (18.8 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 4.0 apg) and Sr. F Greg Mays (12.2 ppg, 4.7 rpg).
No. 6 seeds
Central Michigan (23-8): The Chippewas received an automatic bid after being upset by Buffalo in the Mid-American tournament final. Central Michigan is making its second ever appearance in the NIT and is 0-1 lifetime. Top players: Jr. G Chris Fowler (16.0 ppg, 6.1 apg) and Jr. F John Simons (12.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg).
Alabama (18-14). The Crimson Tide is making their 13 NIT appearance and is 23-15 lifetime. Alabama finished eighth in the SEC. Top players Sr. G Levi Randolph (15.2 ppg, 5.0 rpg) and Jr. G Ricky Tarrant (13.1 ppg).
Iona (25-6): The Gaels won the MAAC to receive an automatic bid. Iona is making its sixth NIT appearance and is 1-5 lifetime. Jr. G A.J. English (19.9 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 5.0 appg), Sr. F David Laury (19.6 ppg, 9.5 rpg), Fr. G Schadrac Casimir (14.8 ppg) and Jr. G Isaiah Williams (13.9 ppg, 6.2 rpg).
UTEP (22-10). UTEP received an at-large bid after finishing tied for second in Conference USA. The Miners are making their 11th appearance in the NIT, where they are 6-10. So. F Vince Hunter (15.0 ppg, 9.2 rpg), Jr. F Earvin Morris Jr. (11.0 ppg) and Sr. F Cederic Lang (10.5 ppg, 6.8 rpg).
No. 7 seeds
Montana (20-12): The Grizzlies received an automatic bid as a result of winning the Big Sky regular season title. Montana is making its fourth appearance in the NIT and is 0-3 lifetime. Top players: Sr. G Jordan Gregory (16.9 ppg, 3.3 apg) and Jr. F Martin Bruenig (16.8 ppg, 7.4 rpg).
North Carolina Central (25-7): North Carolina Central is making its first ever NIT appearance after winning the MEAC regular season crown. Top player: Sr. F Jordan Parks (15.3 ppg, 8.3 rpg).
UC Davis (25-6): Davis is making its first appearance in the NIT after winning the Big West regular season crown (automatic bid). Top players: Sr. G Corey Hawkins (20.4 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 3.4 apg) and Sr. G-F Josh Richart (12.0 ppg, 4.1 rpg).
William & Mary (20-12): The Tribe received an automatic bid as the result of winning the Colonial. William & Mary is making its third appearance in the NIT and is 0-2 lifetime. Top players: Sr. G Marcus Thornton (19.9 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 3.0 apg), So. G Omar Prewitt (13.4 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 2.4 apg), Jr. G Terry Tarpey (11.8 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 3.1 apg).
No. 8 seeds
Bucknell (19-14): The Bison received an automatic bid for winning the Patriot League regular season crown. Bucknell is making its second NIT appearance and is 1-1 lifetime. Jr. G Chris Haas (16.0 ppg, 3.3 rpg) and Fr. C Nana Foulland (10.1 ppg, 5.3 rpg).
St. Francis (Brooklyn) (23-11). The Terriers earned an automatic bid after winning the NEC regular season crown. St. Francis is making its fourth NIT appearance and is 3-4 lifetime in the tournament. Top players Sr. F Jalen Cannon (16.4 ppg, 10.4 rpg) and Sr. G Brent Jones (13.9 ppg, 5.3 apg)
South Dakota State (23-10): The Jackrabbits received an automatic bid after winning the Summitt League regular season title. This will be South Dakota State’s first appearance in the NIT. Jr. G Deondre Parks (14.1 ppg), Sr. F Cody Larson (14.0 ppg, 7.1 rpg) and Jr. G George Marshall (13.0 ppg, 3.8 rpg).
Charleston Southern (19-11). Charleston Southern received an automatic bid as a result of winning the Big South regular season title. Top players: Sr. G Saah Nimley (21.2 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 4.1 apg), Sr. G Arlon Harper (13.2 ppg, 4.0 rpg) and Sr. F Will Saunders (13.0 ppg, 6.1 rpg). The Buccaneers are making their second straight appearance in the NIT and 0-1 lifetime.
2015 NIT First-Round Schedule
Tuesday, March 17
- 7 p.m. Rhode Island vs. Iona ESPNU
- 7 p.m. Miami (FL) vs. North Carolina Central ESPN2
- 7 p.m. Pittsburgh vs. George Washington ESPN
- 7:30 p.m Louisiana Tech vs. Central Michigan ESPN3
- 8:15 p.m. Tulsa vs. William & Mary ESPN3
- 9 p.m. Illinois vs. Alabama ESPN
- 9 p.m. Murray State vs. UTEP ESPN2
- 9 p.m. Texas A&M vs. Montana ESPNU
- 11 p.m. Stanford vs. UC Davis ESPN2
Wednesday, March 18
- 7 p.m. Temple vs. Bucknell ESPN3
- 7 p.m. Connecticut vs. Arizona State ESPN2
- 7:15 p.m. Old Dominion vs. Charleston Southern ESPN3
- 7:30 p.m. Richmond vs. St. Francis ESPN3
- 8 p.m. Illinois State vs. Green Bay ESPNU
- 9 p.m. Saint Mary’s vs. Vanderbilt ESPN2
- 10 p.m. Colorado State vs. South Dakota State ESPNU
All NIT games will be available to live stream at Watch ESPN.
Best chance for first round upset
Iona over Rhode Island and UTEP over Murray State.
Temple, Colorado State and Stanford.
Potential tournament surprises:
UConn and Green Bay
[Photo by Ezra Shaw/ Getty Images]