The NIT bracket for 2013 could be confused for the NCAA bracket if someone isn’t looking close enough.
Fresh off its national championship in 2012, the Kentucky Wildcats had a disappointing season (by their standards) and ended up only with a berth in the NIT. Just a year after fielding one of the most talented NCAA squads of all time, one that sent all of its starters to the NBA, Wildcats coach John Calipari was stung to only reach the NIT.
“I’m really disappointed we didn’t make the NCAA tournament, but we are going to use this time to make us better,” Calipari said Sunday night. “We had our chances, but I’m not going to stop. It’s a great lesson for the future of our program and a humbling experience for me as a coach.”
Also in the Wildcats’ seed is No. 2 Baylor, a team that reached the Elite Eight as a No. 3 seed in last year’s NCAA Tournament.
Other No. 1 seeds in the NIT bracket include the Southern Miss Golden Eagles, Alabama Crimson Tide, and Virginia Cavaliers. Teams that finish atop of their respective leagues get an automatic berth in the NIT, which earned spots for Stony Brook, Mercer, Charleston Southern, Long Beach State, Northeastern, Niagara, Norfolk State, Robert Morris, Stephen F. Austin, Middle Tennessee, and Louisiana Tech.
Many of the teams included in the NIT bracket were stung at missing out on the big dance. Southern Miss coach Donnie Tyndall believes his team had the resume to play in the NCAA tournament, but said the squad is now jumping at the chance to continue its season.
“We believe we should have been in the NCAA tournament, especially when you see some of the other teams that got in,” Tyndall said. “But there’s still opportunity for us, and I believe we’ll bounce back.”
The 2013 NIT bracket may not get as much attention as the NCAA, but the chance to play for redemption is embraced by the teams involved. The team’s that make it to the NIT’s Final Four also get to play in basketball’s Mecca in Madison Square Garden.
The complete 2013 NIT bracket can be found here.