Another Trip to the CIT – From the Bird’s Nest
So, the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns announced Monday they're going to participate in the CollegeInsider Tournament for the third time in five years.
I like the CIT. And, I get why the Cajuns will play in it again this year. The CIT is really what the NIT used to be: A tournament for mostly mid-majors who didn't get invited to the NCAA tournament. The NCAA took over the NIT several years ago and decided that any team which won its regular season title but failed to win its conference tournament would get an automatic invite to the NIT (if they weren't selected as an at large to the NCAA).
And, since then, there's very little room for the little guy that isn't a regular season champ.
This year, the NCAA tournament selection committee awarded one at-large bid to a mid-major conference, and many don't even consider Wichita State to be a mid major, given their success in recent tournaments.
And, the NIT mostly followed suit.
Of the seventeen at-large bids given out for the NIT, 14 of them come from the five football power conferences, plus the American, Atlantic 10 and Big East. All are considered to be major basketball conferences.
The other three bids went to BYU of the West Coast Conference, Princeton of the Ivy League and Long Beach State of the Big West.
There were 55 at large bids given out in the NCAA and NIT. Exactly four went to schools from mid-major conferences.
Now, do you see why having the CIT is a good thing?
The Cajuns have been invited and elected to play in the CIT and I get why they are doing it.
It helps recruiting to say you've been in post-season play four of the last five years. When you're a high school recruit being courted by mostly mid majors, the thought of postseason play is a good thing. It's a chance to play more games. It's a chance for your seniors to get another shot. It's a chance for a few days more practice to get your returnees ready for next year.
It's a chance to end your season with a win.
So, I'm down with the idea of the CIT. I hope it has a long and happy life.
But for some, this season has been a disappointment. The 17-14 Cajuns were a unanimous pick to win the Sun Belt Conference and actually had a worse conference record than they did a year ago...with a team that returned every major contributor.
Now, if you follow the Cajuns (I mean really follow them and have a clue about the game of basketball) then you know, analytically, why the season wound up the way it did. And, I certainly get it.
So, I get the value of the tournament. And, I get what happened to this team this year. And, if the Cajuns can stay in this tournament for a while, I get what it will mean for the program.
But as the CIT gets ready to start, here's what's hard for me to get.