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Thursday, June 13, 2024

NIT bid unlikely, but Norfolk State will play again

For a regular season conference champion like Norfolk State, a loss in the conference tournament usually means a spot in the NIT.

But that’s not a given for NSU or the majority of the regular season conference champions this season. The NCAA, which runs the NIT, made a change last year which many —  including NSU head coach Robert Jones — were not happy about. It was announced last fall that the NIT will guarantee two teams (based on the NET rankings) from each of six conferences (Atlantic Coast, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and Southeastern) automatic bids. The rest of the field will be selected on an at-large basis, leaving champions from leagues like the MEAC/SWAC.

Norfolk State’s 80-74 loss to Howard on Friday night ended its hopes of an NCAA bid. After the game, Jones revealed that his program would not be ending its season. Jones said the program will be participating in the CIT — College Insider Tournament.

Howard got hot on Friday night, putting Norfolk State out of contention for the MEAC tournament title.

“The competition is going to be fierce. It’s another chance to prove Norfolk State on a national stage,” Jones said at the post game presser, seated between MEAC Player of the Year Jamarii Thomas and guard Allen Betrand. “It’s another chance to prove these players or HBCUs on a national stage.

“And I try not to get too much into the HBCU thing because it takes away from what they are. These two guys are some of the best mid-major players in America, so let’s forget about all the other stuff. But I know the connotation that we have, so we gotta keep showing the world that it’s a little different than what people think it is.”

The CIT field is set to be announced on Sunday, March 17. Four schools will host four 4-team pods with two semifinals and finale the next day. The 4 winners will advance to the CIT national semifinals to be played on campus sites with the championship game to also be played at the site of the highest remaining seed. The entire field will be seeded 1-16.

That’s where NSU will be — if it doesn’t sneak into the NIT. Multiple programs from Power Five conferences have reportedly opted out of the NIT, which could open the door for a program like Norfolk State. An invite from the NCAA Tournament or the NIT takes precedence over the CIT.

NSU’s record currently sits at 22-11. And it already has one signature win in that tournament, having knocked off Alabama back in 2019 after losing in the MEAC title game. 

NIT bid unlikely, but Norfolk State will play again

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