The opening round of the 2017 NIT begins on March 14 and runs through March 30, when the final four teams remaining will square off in a Final Four-style championship bout in Madison Square Garden.
The rounds leading up to those will be played at each higher-seeded team’s home arena. Though half the size of the Big Dance, the NIT often yields exciting and peculiar matchups every year.
The first round will be played on March 14–15, then the second round transpires across four days from March 16–20. The semifinals are on March 28. Thirty-two teams earn trips to the NIT, which awards automatic bids to teams that won their regular season title based on record but didn’t win their conference tournament and also didn’t earn an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament proper.
The Oakland Golden Grizzlies find themselves in that very situation, after winning the Horizon League’s regular season title but losing by one point on a buzzer-beater in the Horizon’s championship game to Youngstown State — a brutal way to backdoor oneself out of NCAA tournament contention. For their efforts they were given a seven seed and will open against No. 2 seed Clemson.
After losing in the OVC tournament semifinals to Jacksonville State, No. 7 seed Belmont also finds itself with an NIT auto-bid. The Bruins lost just one conference game in the regular season, which earned them a bye into the OVC tournament’s semifinal round where they fell flat on their faces against JSU. That’ll certainly make for a strong motivating factor as the Bruins face No. 2 seeded Georgia.
You can download a PDF of a printable bracket for the NIT here.