The Patriots are now playing the waiting game and seeing what unfolds this week in college basketball to see if they will have a shot at the NIT or one of the third tier tournaments. Depressing, I know. However, don’t think that the NIT is a lock for the team this year. The NIT gives autobids to teams that finished in first place in their conferences but don’t make the NCAA tournament. So for instance Drexel would be given an autobid to the NIT if they don’t get an at-large on Selection Sunday and Valparaiso lost in their championship last night and will get an autobid to the NIT. Every time this happens throughout the week it reduces George Mason’s chance of being selected to the field.
Currently George Mason’s RPI is 79 (SOS 180)
and their record is 24-9 (14-4 CAA). This article
from a newspaper in Iowa shows the background of the last year’s NIT qualifiers.
There were 18 at-large teams that qualified for the NIT. Here were their resumes (overall record, conference record, RPI) entering the 2011 postseason:
Alabama: 21-11, 12-4, 80
New Mexico: 22-13, 8-8, 66
UTEP: 25-9, 11-5, 59
Miami (Fla.): 19-14, 6-10, 73
Colorado: 21-13, 8-8, 65
California: 17-14, 10-8, 76
Ole Miss: 20-13, 7-9, 83
Colorado State: 19-12, 9-7, 50
Boston College: 20-12, 9-7, 58
Northwestern: 18-13, 7-11, 87
Wisconsin-Milwaukee: 19-13, 13-5, 92
Oklahoma State: 19-13, 6-10, 61
Harvard 23-7, 12-2, 35
Washington State: 19-12, 9-9, 82
Virginia Tech: 21-11, 9-7, 62
Wichita State: 24-8, 14-4, 60
Nebraska: 19-12, 7-9, 89
Dayton: 22-13, 7-9, 70
Of the 18 at-large teams, 11 came from the six power conferences (Big Ten, Big 12, Big East, SEC, ACC, Pac-12). The average RPI was 74. All of the at-large schools (except Harvard) were seeded fifth or higher. Of the 11 power-conference schools, only two (Ole Miss, Nebraska) didn’t host first-round games.
With a lot of mid-majors taking up bids automatically the committee doesn’t seem like they are itching to give out more to others. Keep in the mind this tournament wants to make money like any other and BCS teams with less impressive profiles are still going to get in for TV ratings. This is another factor that hurts Mason’s chances of being in the field.
As for the CIT and CBI tournaments, it is unclear whether or not the school would agree to pay to play in either once of those. Remember when they paid to host that disaster against Fairfield in 2010 CIT
, which was the largest comeback by any team in March in Division I basketball history. Schools have to pay to host these tournament games, and as Ed Miller of the Virginia-Pilot notes
the 24-team CIT’s fee is $30,000 per game and the 16-team CBI is $35,000 for a first-round game, $50,000 for second, and $75,000 for the semifinals. With Mason’s attendance down this season
I really wonder if they will even consider paying to host one of these, especially when that CIT game against Fairfield only drew 2,062 fans
to the Patriot Center.
UPDATE: AD Tom O’Connor says school won’t pursue CIT or CBI tournament:
If Mason isn’t chosen for NIT, they won’t pursue CBI or CIT tournaments, AD O’Connor says. “Financially not in our best interests” #masonmbb
— Steven Goff (@GMUWashPost) March 7, 2012