You knew the NIT isn’t the NCAA tournament, but maybe not for a reason I’m about to share with you.
Never has a No. 1 seed lost a first-round NCAA tournament game since the tourney expanded to 64 teams in 1985.
It won’t happen this year, either. Although given what we’ve seen in sports over the last 12 months with the Cubs’ comeback, the Patriots’ comeback, the Cavaliers’ comeback, et al, I’m not offering you any guarantees.
But in the NIT, No. 1 seeds have stumbled out of the gates in each of the last five seasons. You hear that, No. 1 seed Iowa, which hosts No. 8 seed South Dakota Wednesday night?
Here’s the dirty-laundry list:
2012: No. 8 Bucknell 65, No. 1 Arizona 54
2013: No. 8 Robert Morris 59, No. 1 Kentucky 57
2014: No. 8 Robert Morris 89, No. 1 St. John’s 78
2015: No. 8 South Dakota State 86, No. 1 Colorado State 76
2016: No. 8 Wagner 79, No. 1 St. Bonaventure 75
Iowa can at least feel glad it isn’t playing Robert Morris Wednesday.
In that same 5-year period, just seven of the 20 top-seeds reached the NIT’s Final Four in New York. In 2013, when third-seed Iowa got to the championship game, none of the four finalists were top-seeds.
Only one of the last eight NIT champions was a No. 1 seed, Minnesota in 2014. Three No. 2 seeds, two No. 3s and two No. 4s were winners in that time.