The NCAA Tournament isn’t the only college basketball that will be played in March. For those teams that fail to earn a bid to compete in March Madness, there is the 2021 National Invitational Tournament.
It might not be the end goal for every Division I team at the start of the season, but any opportunity to play basketball beyond the regular season is one to be seized, especially after COVID-19 completely denied players, coaches and entire fan bases the opportunity in 2020.
That begins with the reveal of the 2021 NIT bracket. Though it will lack the fanfare of the NCAA Tournament selection show, it nevertheless marks the continuation of several lucky teams’ seasons.
Sporting News has you covered on everything you need to know for the 2021 NIT bracket: date, time, TV channel and more.
When is the NIT bracket reveal in 2021?
The National Invitational Tournament bracket is scheduled to be revealed at 8:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, March 14, following the reveal of the NCAA Tournament bracket.
What channel is NIT bracket reveal on?
ESPNU will release the bracket — reduced from 32 teams to 16 in 2021 — at 8:30 p.m. ET. It can be streamed via ESPN.com or fuboTV, which offers a seven-day free trial.
NIT 2021 selection format
The NIT will have a new selection format in 2021. The NCAA on Monday, March 1 announced the tournament will be reduced from 32 teams to just 16 — essentially removing a round of play — because of COVID-19.
Moreover, higher seeds will not host the lower seeds in earlier rounds; instead, Conference USA and the University of North Texas will serve as co-hosts of the 2021 NIT, which will take place in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. The Comerica Center (Frisco, Texas) and UNT Coliseum (Denton, Texas) will serve as the venues for the 2021 NIT. Specific venues for each round are being finalized.
In previous years, any team that won its conference’s regular season title but wasn’t selected for the NCAA Tournament would be granted an automatic berth to the tournament. Following that, the remainder of the teams were selected as at-large bids after the NCAA Tournament bracket reveal. Because of the reduced field this year, the tournament will consist entirely of at-larges.
One possible peculiarity regarding the 2021 NIT could come as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic: The NCAA on Feb. 26 released protocols to replace NCAA Tournament teams in the event one or more can’t participate because of the coronavirus. Assuming that’s the case — after the bracket has been set but before play has begun — the NCAA will rank the first four out and, in order of descending rank, allow them the possibility to replace a team as an at-large bid. Those teams would be considered 1-seeds in the NIT, otherwise.
If that happens, it’s likely the NIT would simply move up a 2-seed to replace them, adding more teams as necessary and moving them up the seed line.
NIT schedule 2021
The 2021 NCAA Tournament starts on Thursday, March 18, with every First Four game taking place in a single day (as opposed to previous years, in which they took place over the course of two days). March Madness will proceed as usual from there, culminating with the Final Four and national championship game in Lucas Oil Stadium on April 3 and 5, respectively.
*First time played since 2003
When is the first round of the NIT?
16 teams will face off over the course of four days from Wednesday, March 17, through Saturday, March 20. The 2021 NIT will proceed to the quarterfinal round on March 25.
When is the NIT championship round?
The NIT championship will take place on March 28, one day after the semifinals; losers from the latter round will play in a third-place game, the first time since 2003.
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