NEW YORK CITY - Before there were bracketologists, bracketology and a succession of bracket challenges the NIT was ahead of the game. As far back as the Sixties, the NIT had their brackets published in the likes of the Newark Evening News. Back then the NIT, as now, was my favorite. Maybe it was the idea of the games on the hallowed Madison Square Garden floor. Again, maybe it was those brackets allowing a grade school fan to recreate the tournament by shooting free throws outside. Whatever the case, the NIT became my favorite, to the point where yours truly wrote a book on its history back in 2006.
The nation’s oldest postseason tournament has stood the test of time. There have been challenges from upstarts, remember the ill fated Collegiate Commissioner’s Tournament of the Seventies? Didn’t think so, and it bears mention only in pointing out it sent over like the Edsel.
The NIT has withstood the test of time. Despite critics, it is a prestigious tournament, offering its Final Four a trip to New York and Madison Square Garden.
The 2013 Final Four gives us Baylor, BYU, Iowa and Maryland, teams that through the year took different path and encountered challenges of their own to get to New York, and each is poised to write a new chapter in a tournament that is a college basketball fan’s treasure.
Madison Square Garden about an hour before tipoff:
A Brigham Young cheerleader in support of her Cougars...unfortunately for her and BYU, their stay was short:
Officials Tim Clougherty and Brian O'Connell take a timeout:
Baylor head coach Scott Drew makes a point:
Iowa players take the floor for the semifinal nightcap:
Maryland's stay was also short, but they did get their name in lights: