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July 24, 2011

Breaking down the Preseason NIT field

At the College Basketball Roundtable each week, we ask each member of the coverage staff for his opinion about a current topic in the sport.

Today's question: The Preseason NIT announced its 16 teams last week. Your thoughts on the field?

David Fox's answer:
My reaction: Congratulations on your Preseason NIT championship, Syracuse. The field makes sense, though: Many of these teams will be in the postseason NIT, too. I get why the field ended up like this. I mean, look at the teams in Hawaii for the Maui Invitational: Duke, Kansas, Memphis, UCLA, Georgetown and Michigan. I suppose if there's any storyline to watch in the Preseason NIT is the potential for FIU coach Isiah Thomas to return to Madison Square Garden. For him to do that, FIU will have to defeat George Mason and most likely Virginia Tech. That will be an interesting story, but it doesn't seem likely to happen: FIU went 5-11 in the Sun Belt last season.

Mike Huguenin's answer:
Frankly, if this is the best the NIT folks can do, I wonder how much longer this event will be relevant. It's not a good group of teams. The Preseason NIT used to be one of the premier early-season tournaments; this season's won't even be one of the top five. The four teams "seeded" to get through to New York are Oklahoma State, Stanford, Syracuse and Virginia Tech. Only Syracuse among that quartet made the NCAA tourney last season. Again, this is not a good field.

Jason King's answer:
This season's Preseason NIT doesn't get my excite-o-meter going like some of the other tournaments that will take place in November and December. Virginia Tech lost its top two players (Malcolm Delaney and Jeff Allen) from an NIT team and Stanford was one of the worst teams in the mediocre Pac-10 last season. Syracuse is obviously the marquee name here, and it certainly wouldn't surprise anyone if the Orange climbed into the top 10 at some point during the season. The team in this field that intrigues me the most, though, is Oklahoma State – mainly because of freshman LeBryan Nash. Not many newcomers in the country this season will be as exciting as the 6-foot-7 wing. Nash can score from the outside, but he's at his best when he's exploding toward the basket for a layup in traffic or a power slam over a handful of defenders. Nash will give Oklahoma State – which missed the NCAA tournament last season – a chance to compete with almost any foe on its schedule, including the ones it will face in the Preseason NIT.

Steve Megargee's answer:
It's not a very exciting collection of teams. The only teams in the field that made the NCAA tournament last season are Syracuse, George Mason and UT San Antonio. None of these teams made it beyond the first weekend. Stanford had a losing record and Oklahoma State went 6-10 in conference play last season, yet they're two of the hosts for the opening doubleheaders. The Maui Classic (Duke, Georgetown, Kansas, Memphis, Michigan UCLA), Coaches vs. Cancer (Arizona, Mississippi State, St. John's, Texas A&M), CBE Classic (California, Georgia, Missouri, Notre Dame), Battle 4 Atlantic (Connecticut, Florida State, Harvard) and the Legends Classic (Texas, Vanderbilt) all have better headliners.

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