- Nov 21, 2019
NEW YORK – In today’s college basketball landscape, most observers overlook the historic National Invitational Tournament (NIT), claiming that the NIT is to the NCAA Tournament as to what junior varsity is to varsity.
Those observations are not wrong, per se, but they discount the fact the NIT is one of the most historic events in American sports.
Founded in 1938 by the Metropolitan Basketball Writers Association, the NIT is one of the most important institutions in college basketball. The tournament has always been contested at Madison Square Garden, the World’s Most Famous Arena, in New York City. Because of the gravitas of the Garden, and the overarching exposure that the New York media provided, teams found the NIT to be much more prestigious than the NCAA Tournament back in the day.
Before 1970, teams could compete in the NCAA Tournament and the NIT in the same season. But in 1970, Al McGuire, the head coach of Marquette, decided that he wanted his team to play in the NIT in...