The last true survive-and-advance bracket in college basketball's bevy of November tournaments is the NIT Season Tip-Off. Unlike most other events, which see a handpicked quartet of teams slotted into an exempt event's semifinals, the NIT is a true bracket process, one for the tourney purists.
|2013 NIT Season Tip-Off|
Rhode Island-Metro St.
Georgia St.-McNeese St.
That said, the NCAA, which organizes this event, is not dumb. There is a built-in advantage in order to try and achieve the best final four teams possible: the better teams getting the games on their home court before the event's semifinals move on to Madison Square Garden during Thanksgiving weekend. On Tuesday the NCAA released its field for 2013. The big bracket is embedded below, but alongside here you can see the pod pairings.
Arizona, Duke, Alabama and Rutgers will have the benefit of playing at home -- they are the four biggest programs involved, naturally -- and ergo have the best chance of getting to the Garden. It doesn't always work that way, though. The 2012 field saw Delaware upset Virginia on the way to the semis.
And you might be thinking, When did Metro State and Stillman get into Division I? Well, they haven't. But amazingly enough, having nearly 350 programs just wasn't enough slack to give the NCAA an opportunity to include nothing but D-I teams in this tournament. Hypothetically, mathematically, two teams from outside Division I have a chance to make it to Madison Square Garden on Nov. 27.
This is the 29th NIT Tip-Off. The pod portion of this tourney begins on Nov. 18 on the campuses of the four big schools: Alabama, Arizona, Duke and Rutgers. The semis at MSG are Nov. 27 and the title game/consolation game will be held Nov. 29. The best outcome for college hoops would most likely be Duke vs. Arizona for the title, because both those teams have a good chance of being top-10 by the time that potential matchup would occur.