Vanderbilt awaits postseason options

The 19-12 Vanderbilt Commodores laid an egg again in the SEC tournament and now await their limited postseason options. There are three possible tournaments that the Commodores could find themselves in: the National Invitational Tournament (NIT), the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) or the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament (CIT).

NATIONAL INVITATIONAL TOURNAMENT (NIT)

The National Invitation Tournament (NIT) is the oldest tournament in college basketball and the most prestigious of the non-NCAA Tournaments. At one time, before the 1950s, the NIT was more prestigious than the NCAA. In fact, back in the day some teams would go to the NIT over an invite from the NCAA. This ended in the 50s when a rule enacted by the NCAA statedd that if a team had in invitation to the Big Dance they had to go. Vanderbilt actually won the NIT in 1990 by beating Saint Louis, 74-72. Although typically Vanderbilt would be a shoe-in for the NIT with a 19-12 record, things have changed that make it possible that the Commodores could miss out on the second best tournament. The NCAA purchased the NIT a couple of years ago. Part of the NCAA's new rules for the NIT was to guarantee that any team that finishes first place in their conference regular season but loses in the conference tournament would have a spot in the NIT. This means teams that formally would be just sitting at home and going nowhere will be dancing in the NIT. Several upsets have already taken place in mid major conference tournaments that could mean Vanderbilt is left out in the cold. The NIT 32-team field will be announced Sunday night at 8 p.m. CST on ESPNU. Play begins on March 17 and concludes with the title game on April 2. First round, second round and quarterfinal games are played at campus locations and the semifinal and championship games at Madison Square Garden in New York City. IMPORTANT NOTE: Former Vanderbilt head coach C.M. Newton is the chair of the NIT Selection Committee and Kevin Stallings' former head coach at Purdue, Gene Keady, also serves on the committee.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL INVITATIONAL (CBI)

If the Commodores miss out on the NIT there are other options. The CBI is a new tournament that started play in 2008. They have 16-team field that play a traditional first round, second round and quarterfinal. The finals are done differently, instead of a one game sudden death title game; the CBI has more of an NBA flavor because they play a 3-game home-away-home series. Last year teams such as Virginia, Cincinnati, Houston and Utah competed in the first tournament. Tulsa won the first CBI championship. Up to eleven games are set to be televised. The CBI field will be announced on Sunday evening. Play begins on March 17th and concludes with the championship series from March 30-April 3.

COLLEGEINSIDER.COM POSTSEASON TOURNAMENT (CIT)

The CollegeInsider.com tournament is a new tournament that will conduct its inaugural championship event this year. There's a 16-team field similar to the CBI format but with just one championship game. On quote that could doom Vandy from participating in this tourney, "Teams whose conferences have less than fifty-percent (50%) of their teams participating in the NCAA and NIT tournaments will be given higher priority for selection into the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament. Gene Keady is also affiliated with this tournament as he serves on the "Tournament Committee" of the CIT. Tournament play will begin on March 17 and will conclude with the championship game on Tuesday March 31. The CIT appears to be affiliated with Fox College Sports (FSC) so games will likely be televised on the Fox network.

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