The Toledo Rockets were just one of 32 teams to wind up with a spot in the 2014 National Invitational Tournament, or NIT. Toledo earned a six seed and will face three seed Southern Miss Wednesday night at 8:30.
But while the coverage of the NCAA Tournament is plentiful, you may not know much about the NIT. We're here to help out, Toledo fans. The NIT is a 76-year-old tournament that actually predates the NCAA Tournament by a year. The event's finals are hosted annually at Madison Square Garden in New York City. For many of its early years the NIT rivaled the NCAA Tournament, before eventually slipping into its current second-fiddle position.
The Rockets have actually been to the NIT eight times, even reaching the championship game in 1943, falling to St. Johns by a score of 48-27. The last time Toledo made it to the NIT was back in 2007 though, with a first-round loss to Marquette. But enough about the past, you want to know who else made the tournament, and if you should actually be excited about this or pissed off.
Well, I'd say get excited. It may not have the prestige of the NCAA Tournament, but the smaller NIT actually features some fantastic squads. Toledo and Southern Miss are the top two RPI squads in the tournament, both ranking in the top 40 in the nation, but Toledo only managed a six seed which should show the level of depth in this tournament. The top four seeds are SMU, St. john's, Minnesota and Florida State. These are some highly dangerous squads. The rest of the field is quite good too, and you won't see any Cal Poly's in this bunch.
The bracket is broken down into quadrants based on the top teams in each section, and here's a look at each of the sections:
(1) SMU vs. (8) UC-Irvine — Wed., ESPN2
(4) San Francisco vs. (5) LSU — Wed., ESPNU, 10 p.m.
(3) Arkansas vs. (6) Indiana State — Tue., ESPN
(2) Cal vs. (7) Utah Valley — Wed., ESPN3
Florida State Region:
(1) Florida State vs. (8) Florida Gulf Coast — Tue., ESPN2, 7 p.m.
(4) Georgetown vs. (5) West Virginia — Tue., ESPN
(3) Louisiana Tech vs. (6) Iona — Wed., ESPN3, 7:30 p.m.
(2) Georgia vs. (7) Vermont — Wed., ESPNU, 8 p.m.
St. John's Region:
(1) St. John's vs. (8) Robert Morris — Tue., ESPNU, 7 p.m.
(4) Green Bay vs. (5) Belmont — Tue., ESPN3, 8:15 p.m.
(3) Clemson vs. (6) Georgia State — Tue., ESPNU, 9 p.m.
(2) Illinois vs. (7) Boston University —Wed., ESPN, 7 p.m.
(1) Minnesota vs (8) High Point — Tue., ESPN3
(4) St. Mary's vs (5) Utah —Tue., ESPN2
(3) Southern Miss vs (6) Toledo — Wed., ESPN3
(2) Missouri vs. (7) Davidson — Tue., ESPN2, 8 p.m.
As you can see there are some incredibly talented squads, and Toledo will have a nice challenge in its own section.