17 March 2016 Views From The Booth
The national phenomenon known as “March Madness” begins this week as (as of this writing) 64 teams will compete for the NCAA Men’s basketball championship. The virus known as Roundball Flu (also known as Bracketitus) will run rampant across the USA, as workers start feeling the effects around 10am Thursday. The only known cure for this is copious amounts of wings, suds, and staring endlessly at big screen TVs.
If your team didn’t make it to The Big Dance, perhaps they are one of the 32 teams playing in the NIT. The National Invitational Tournament was started in 1938, and actually was once more important than the NCAA tourney. At one time, teams could actually participate in both, and the winner of the NIT was regarded as more of a national champion than the winner of the NCAA championship. The NIT has lost it’s luster over the years and is now regarded as more of a consolation prize, although up-and-coming programs use the NIT as a springboard for future success.
Then, there is the prestigious College Basketball Invitational, founded in 2007, and features 16 teams that didn’t make either the NCAA or the NIT. Past schools who have taken this coveted CBI title home with them include Tulsa, VCU, and Oregon, who are pretty decent basketball programs (Oregon is a #1 seed in this year’s NCAA tournament).
Wait, I’m not done. Provided your favorite school couldn’t even impress the CBI selection committee, and your school is a mid-major, TheTournament (already underway) may have a spot for you! 32 more teams are invited to this storied event, founded in 2009. The criteria for getting into the CIT includes having a better-than .500 record, although 11-21 powerhouse Chicago State participated in 2013. ODU actually has the 2009 CIT trophy in it’s case (although I’m not sure if there’s a banner hanging in the field house for this one). When I think basketball, I think of New Jersey Institute of Technology, University of the Incarnate Word, and Grand Canyon (past and present invitees). I guess DeVry couldn’t get over the .500 hump this year…
And then, there’s the Vegas 16, which is now the Vegas 8, because this inaugural tournament couldn’t come up with a field of 16! I’m pretty sure the founders of this classic were probably just looking for a reason to hang out at Mandalay Bay for a few days in March. The aforementioned Old Dominion is one of the 8 teams that will participate March 28-30. Look for Wayne Newton in the front row.
Is it me, or does this sound like bowl season in college football? Do they even make giant foam fingers with numbers this high? Well, as I like to say, “If you’re in it, you might as well win it.” Enjoy the wings, brew, and basketball, everybody, and embrace the madness!
Thanks for hanging out in “The Booth” and until next week, GO HORNETS!