As Selection Sunday wound down a couple of Big Ten teams were closely watching ESPNU while everyone else was discussing the ludicrous seeding of the NCAA Tournament. Ohio State was all but assured a spot in the NIT, but Northwestern was hoping the selection committee would be nicer to Big Ten teams for the NIT than they were in the NCAAs.
Unfortunately for the Wildcats it wasn't meant to be. There are only 32 spots in the the NIT, and after a parity filled championship week 15 of those spots were taken. Just as conference tournament champions are guaranteed an NCAA Tournament bid, regular season champions who miss out on the NCAAs are guaranteed NIT spots. For comparison's sake, last year featured 12 regular season champions in the NIT.
Northwestern making the NIT field would've been a surprise, but it is kind of strange to only have one Big Ten team in the field. The Wildcats, along with Penn State and potentially all other Big Ten teams, will not play in any post-season tournaments, shunning the CBI and newly-minted Vegas 16. This follows the example set by IU a couple of seasons ago ("We're Indiana, we don't play in the CBI.").
For Ohio State, their selection will give an exceedingly young Buckeye team the chance to get more experience and potentially a bit of hardware. They will be a 3 seed, and will face MAC champs Akron in the first game. The all-Ohio match-up will tip-off at 7PM ET at Value City Arena and be televised on ESPN.
The Zips have a record of 26-8, finishing with a 64-61 loss to Buffalo in the MAC Tournament championship. Akron had beaten Buffalo twice in the regular season and knocked off Arkansas and NCAA team Iona in the non-conference. If Ohio State wins they will play the winner of Florida and North Florida, likely in Columbus as 2 seed Florida is renovating their arena. On the other side of their region is #1 Monmouth, #4 George Washington, #5 Hofstra, and #8 Bucknell. Other top seeds include Valparaiso, St. Bonaventure, and South Carolina.
Check out the whole field here.