Thursday, March 01, 2007

USC and the NIT???

Unless USC wins the SEC tournament to earn the league’s automatic NCAA tournament bid, the Gamecocks are headed to the NIT, right?

Not so fast.

At 14-14 (and 4-11 in the SEC), USC isn’t guaranteed anything just yet, even if the Gamecocks are the two-time defending NIT champions.

First, USC isn’t going anywhere if it doesn’t finish with a winning record. The Gamecocks close out the regular season on the road against LSU.

Then comes the SEC tournament, where USC likely will take on the No. 3 seed out of the weak Western Division. Win that and the Gamecocks could face the second seed out of the East - likely Vanderbilt.

So where does that leave USC?

Coach Dave Odom says the Gamecocks likely need to win at least two more games as possibly as many as four to feel comfortable about their NIT chances. What, you might ask, has the college basketball world come to when a team with a winning record from a so-called power conference that has a winning isn’t assured of a trip to the NIT?

With the NCAA buying the NIT, the rules have changed. Last year the NIT began guaranteeing a spot to any regular-season conference champion that wasn’t selected to the NCAA tournament.

Seven teams, including Georgia Southern, fit that criteria a year ago, when the NIT field was 40 teams.

Now it’s 32. You do the math.

With the SEC getting four to six teams in the NCAA tournament, the remaining eight to six teams certainly won’t all be bound for the NIT.

In the past, Odom said he’d bet 80 to 85 percent of the teams from power conferences with winning records made the NIT field. Clearly that won’t be the case this year.

1 comment:

Moose said...

USC will have to pull out some magic to get a bid to the NIT. Hopefully the NCAA will promote the NIT a little bit more this season.