Tonight is Selection Sunday, and while there is likely no chance St. John’s hears the school called out and slotted in the NCAA Tournament, there is a solid chance that the team gets a nod in the National Invitational Tournament, the NIT.
The field will be a full 32-team field, and the final two games, scheduled for March 29th and March 31st, would be in Madison Square Garden.
There is a selection show.
NIT Selection Show
When: Sunday, March 13
Time: 9 PM
Given the expectations early in the year, it may feel like a disappointment. It’s important to remember that this team, while anointed with NCAA Tournament hopes, was not considered team that would have contended for a top-8 seed; and for at-large teams between 9-12, the margin of error is slim. In St. John’s case, the dip in free throw percentage, perhaps.
Cold comfort, true.
Anyway, the NIT has special relevance for the Johnnies. St. John’s has won the NIT six times, most recently in 2003 with Marcus Hatten, and in the pre-64 team NCAA Tournament days, would prefer the NIT to the NCAA when offered bids to both.
The NIT can be a strong jump-off point for teams looking to find their way (though St. John’s 2004 season was a disaster with echoes that reach to the present day). This Red Storm team will likely lose Julian Champagnie next season, along with Stef Smith and Tareq Coburn (Montez Mathis and Aaron Wheeler may have another season of eligibility). But the rest of the team will return, and there is potential in the likes of Esahia Nyiwe, Joel Soriano and O’Mar Stanley up front, and Dylan Addae-Wusu and Rafael Pinzon in the backcourt.
St. John’s will hope for home games, and perhaps that can happen, but the current bracketologists have the Red Storm as a lower-half seed (there are 8-seeds in each of the 4 regions).
The higher seed would get priority for home games, but often, teams will have their gym booked for other events.