College Basketball Crown

On Wednesday, Fox Sports officially announced its postseason college basketball tournament that it imagines will compete with the NIT.

The College Basketball Crown will consist of sixteen teams that didn’t qualify for the NCAA Tournament. The inaugural tournament next year will take place in Las Vegas from Monday, March 31 through Sunday, April 6 at the T-Mobile Arena.

“Postseason college basketball is one of the most exciting times of year and FOX Sports is proud to be at the forefront of efforts to evolve and elevate the sport,” said Jordan Bazant, Executive Vice President, FOX Sports. “Alongside AEG and the Big Ten, Big 12 and BIG EAST, we are thrilled to provide more opportunities for student-athletes to compete in high quality postseason college hoops and for viewers to enjoy the chase for the College Basketball Crown.”

The 16-team tournament will include a minimum of two participants each from each of the Big Ten, Big East, and Big 12, with additional teams selected by a committee.

News of this tournament was first reported back in September.

On the surface, this will allow more mid-majors to compete in the NIT. But at the same time, there’s no guarantee the College Basketball Crown won’t pluck some of the top mid-majors in addition to the mediocre power conference schools guaranteed bids.

This year, the auto-bids for the three conferences likely would have been Ohio State and Iowa from the Big Ten, St. John’s and Villanova from the Big East, and Cincinnati and Oklahoma from the Big 12. St. John’s and Oklahoma declined NIT bids this year.

It remains to be seen what the rest of the field will look like. Would it be filled out by other high major schools, like those in the ACC and SEC, along with even more schools from the Big Ten, Big East, and Big 12? Or would the College Basketball Crown selection committee leave those aggressively mediocre schools out in favor of mid-majors with shinier records, like Indiana State?

The timing of the tournament also slots weirdly into the college basketball calendar. It’ll take place the week between the Elite Eight and Final Four of the men’s tournament, wedging four games for the finalists into seven days. The championship of this tournament would also take place on the same day as the title game of the NCAA Women’s Tournament, with games also likely taking place on the same day as the Final Four of the women’s tournament.

We’ll have to wait until next year to see how this tournament shakes out, but I personally don’t see much excitement for this tournament, especially considering how much the NIT is falling from relevance. It’s tough enough getting fans, players, and teams excited for the NIT. And a smaller tournament taking place just before the end of March Madness doesn’t seem like the ultimate fix to turn things around.

[Fox Sports]

About Joe Lucia

I hate your favorite team. I also sort of hate most of my favorite teams.