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FAQ: The National Invitation Tournament


Hey, there you are! I’ve been looking for you all day. Where’ve you been? Listen, I want to apologize for yesterday. It was St. Patrick’s Day, you know? I’d had a lot to drink. I’m sorry I tried to punch you. I really do consider you a good friend. Here, I got you a Roastburger from Arby’s. Are we cool?

So how about this NIT, eh? Sizzling! I remember the last time we were in the NIT. Electric LIght Orchestra was on top of the world and the space shuttle Columbia was ready for launch. But how much do we really know about the NIT? I recently visited the official website of the tournament to learn a little for myself. And now, for your information, Frequently Asked Questions about the NIT are reprinted below.


What is the NIT?

The National Invitation Tournament (NIT) is a NCAA post-season tournament played in March and April. It consists of collegiate teams not deemed successful enough in regular season play to qualify for the NCAA Championship Tournament.

How does the NIT work?
No one is quite sure. The first NIT, held in 1938, featured the nation’s top-tier basketball teams in a bracket-style competition for championship. Today’s NIT, however, consists of several randomly chosen college men’s basketball teams, selected by a chicken, who play all over the country. The tournament goes on for a while, and sometimes is on TV. Then it is over.

I’ve heard of the “Big Dance.” Is the NIT the “Big Dance?”

Unfortunately, no. The “Big Dance” is commonly used to refer to the NCAA Championship Tournament. The NIT, however, has hired a marketing firm who is currently trying to buy the copyright to the name “The Fun Scoot,” and when the appropriate paperwork is completed, said moniker will appear on all NIT merchandise. Watch for it!

When was the NIT selection show aired? I think I missed it.

The National Invitation Tournament Selection Show aired on March 15 at 3:23 a.m., during the second commercial break of an hour-long “Big City Slider Station” infomercial on the Travel Channel. ESPN has repeatedly ignored requests to air the program during prime time.

My friends and I want to play in the NIT. Can we?

Four at-large, non-NCAA teams are selected for the NIT each year. These teams, in the past, have included Steve’s Smashers, of Butte, Montana; the 1995 Yelton Family Reunion Team, of Detroit, Michigan; and the St. Paul Rent-a-Center League Destroyers, of St. Paul, Minneapolis. Please see the appropriate link for an entry form, and good luck!

Is the NIT played in the nation’s large arenas?

Oftentimes not. Though there are a few exceptions, most NIT games are played in church fellowship halls, middle school gyms, and, in some cases, empty swimming pools. Seeing basketball in this raw, pure state is part of the NIT’s thrill!

Is there a National Invitation Tournament MVP?

While there may be an unofficial MVP, the tournament does strive to encourage all players’ sense of worth. Each team member, upon completion of the tournament, will receive via mail a high-grade participation ribbon and a coupon for $1 off their next purchase of an Arby’s Roastburger. Everyone at the NIT is a winner!

Can I fill out a bracket for the NIT?


To whom should I submit my NIT bracket?

We encourage you to just hang it on the fridge. Keep checking back to see how well you’re doing!

My team recently won a championship. Will we receive a banner for it to hang in our gym?

Due to budget cutbacks, the NIT is no longer supplying banners to championship winners. Instead, your team will receive eight plastic mini-basketballs with “NIT Champs!” printed on them. Additional balls are available for a small fee. When the paperwork is approved, these items may or may not also feature the subtitle “The Fun Scoot.”


NIT fever! Catch it! Well folks, I’d love to hang out and chat a bit more, but I’m off to Creighton. If there’s one thing you should know about me by now, it’s that I never miss an excuse to hang out in Omaha. They have the best corn museum I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen a lot of them. Until next week, friends, here’s a little clip from last Saturday’s SNL. Please enjoy.

Article written by C.M. Tomlin