After impressive wins against Stanford and California in the final week of the regular season, it seemed that all Arizona State had to do to lock up an NIT berth was avoid a bad loss in the Pac-12 Tournament. And with a 14 point lead over USC with just over eight minutes remaining, it looked like the Sun Devils would do just that.
Not so fast. The Trojans ended the game on a 21-4 run, leaving the maroon and gold in shock and wondering if they would fall short of an invitation to the NIT.
Below are my current projections for the NIT field of 32. (Last Update: Following the NCAA Selection Show).
(Auto bids in Bold)
1 - Temple, Colorado State, Old Dominion, Richmond
2 - Miami (Florida), Murray State, Connecticut, Tulsa
3 - Texas A&M, Stanford, Iona, Illinois
4 - Rhode Island, Green Bay, Illinois State, George Washington
5 - Pittsburgh, St. Mary's, UTEP, Vanderbilt
6 - Memphis, Arizona State, Louisiana Tech, UC Davis
7 - Central Michigan, South Dakota State, William & Mary, Montana
8 - North Carolina Central, Bucknell, Charleston Southern, St. Francis Brooklyn
First Four Out: Alabama, Michigan, Yale, Toledo
Next Four Out: Minnesota, UC Santa Barbara, Tennessee, Florida
Alabama fired head coach Anthony Grant early on Sunday afternoon, and I think that fact combined with their poor strength of schedule keeps the Crimson Tide out of the field. So, some lucky bubble team gets to slide in.
That team should be Arizona State. The NCAA Tournament selection committee showed a lot of respect to the Pac-12 in their selections for the big dance, and I think the conference will get another two teams into the NIT. The next closest challenger (outside of Alabama) is a .500 Michigan team and an Ivy League runner up that just lost to Harvard, a team the Sun Devils beat back in December.
With that being said, the resumes of the last four teams in and the first eight out are nearly interchangeable. Nothing would really surprise me when the field is announced at 5:30 PM on ESPNU.