Unless the Huskies somehow sweep four games in four days at the Pac-10 tournament next week, they appear bound for the National Invitation Tournament.
One of the interesting quotes of today's Pac-10 coaches' conference call was an enthusiastic defense of the NIT from Arizona State coach Herb Sendek: "I think the NIT is year-in, year-out filled with really good basketball teams, teams good enough that if they would have gotten a bid to the NCAA tournament are more than capable of advancing in that field. Unfortunately, I think there's been a stigma attached over the years where that tournament doesn't have the good feeling for most of the teams that it should. Not everyone goes to a BCS game in football, but that doesn't mean you haven't had a great year. I just wish that the teams that play in that (NIT) field would receive some of the deserved credit that their excellent seasons should give them."
Even if UW fans can't get quite that fired up about the NIT after three straight NCAAs, it probably is time to learn a few basics about the tournament.
For starters, here is a link to the official NIT site.
And here are a few of the key points found there:
&bullThe 32-team field is named on Selection Sunday (March 11), after the NCAA field is announced.
&bullThe NIT is obligated to invite any regular season champion not included in the NCAA field – mostly minor-conference teams that stumble in their conference tournament.
&bullAfter that, participants are selected by the secret ballot of a selection committee that weighs computer rankings, head-to-head results, chronological results, Division I results, non-conference results, home and away results, results in the last 10 games, polls and a coaches' regional advisory committee's rankings.
&bullSelected teams are then seeded and assigned to regions with a goal of achieving competitive balance while also placing teams as close to their home areas as possible.
&bullThe committee tries to avoid having teams from the same conference meet each other early – meaning if Washington and Cal both make the NIT, they won't play their rubber match for a while.
&bullThe committee also tries to avoid instant pairings of teams that met during the regular season – meaning if the UW-Gonzaga rivalry is resumed, it likely won't be in the first round.
&bullThe first three rounds are generally played on the campus of the higher-seeded school – meaning the Huskies probably shouldn't clean out their lockers after the UCLA game Saturday.
&bullThree wins down the line, the four surviving teams advance to Madison Square Garden in New York for the semifinals on March 27 and the championship game on March 29.