The National Invitation Tournament (NIT) announced on Monday that it is cutting its field in half and holding the entire tournament in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex area in 2021. The 32-team NIT is typically held on campus sites until the semifinals round but will instead be held at the Comerica Center in Frisco, Texas, and at the UNT Coliseum on North Texas' campus in Denton, Texas.
CBS Sports' Matt Norlander reported last week that the field would be shrunk to 16 and likely moved to the Dallas area.
The NCAA said the decision to host the tournament in one geographic location was made with the goal of hosting a healthy event for all participants amid the pandemic, which tracks with the organization's decision to host the NCAA Tournament this year in Indianapolis.
Because of the reduced field size, the bracket of the NIT will be populated via a selection process of at-large participants. This is different from previous years in which it has been filled with automatic qualifiers. Those teams will be announced on Sunday, March 14 on ESPNU by the NIT Committee at 8:30 p.m. ET -- shortly after the NCAA Tournament's Selection Show on CBS.
There's also a twist to all this that ties both tourneys together: the NCAA selection committee is planning to name four contingency teams to effectively be on standby for the NCAA Tournament. Those teams would rank 69th, 70th, 71st and 72nd and just miss the main bracket. For practical purposes they would double as the top four seeded teams in the NIT. Should a team or teams be forced to bow out of the NCAA Tournament between Selection Sunday and Tuesday night at 6 p.m. ET, those contingency team (or teams) would slot into their place.
The tournament itself will begin on Wednesday, March 17, and conclude with the semifinals and a championship game on Saturday, March 27 and Sunday, March 28. A third-place game will also be played at the NIT for the first time since 2003 on March 28.