Xavier Basketball is NIT-picking for only the second time in this century. Qualifying for the National Invitation Tournament for the first time since 2000. When the late Skip Prosser was Xavier’s head coach.
This will be the Xavier Musketeers eighth NIT appearance in program history. One cool thing about the NIT is that higher seeds host games on their home floor until the semifinals. Xavier will host their first round game as a No.3 seed at the Cintas Center. Facing No.6 Toledo Basketball Wednesday at 7 PM Eastern time on ESPN3. The winner will face either No.2 Texas or No.7 South Dakota State.
The Musketeers are in the same bracket as Dayton Basketball. Dayton is a No.5 seed that will face No.4 Colorado Basketball on Tuesday night. This sets up a potential matchup between Xavier and Dayton in the quarterfinals. Another team of regional interest getting an NIT invite is Wright State Basketball. They won the Horizon League’s regular season title; though lost the conference tournament title to Northern Kentucky Basketball.
Other teams of regional interest for Xavier fans include Indiana Basketball and Butler Basketball. On a conference note, Xavier and Butler are two of five Big East teams in the 2019 NIT. Georgetown, Providence and Creighton Basketball are the other Big East NIT-pickers. Xavier beat Creighton in the Big East tournament quarterfinals last Thursday. Before effectively punching their ticket to the NIT with their overtime loss in the semifinals.
Earning an invitation to the NIT is unfortunately often frowned upon by some as a consolation prize. However, Xavier fans can see this NIT bid as an achievement. After all, the Musketeers seemed nearly bound for a losing season in early February. Instead, Travis Steele’s first season as Xavier’s head coach will continue. Plus, Seniors Ryan Welage, Kyle Castlin and Zach Hankins will have at least one more game in a Xavier uniform.
Credit for Xavier’s high seed can be given to the way they finished their season. Through winning six of their last seven regular season games. Earning a No.4 seed in the Big East tournament in the process. Then nearly beating eventual conference champions Villanova Basketball in the semifinals. This and a decent performance in the NIT could boost Musketeer fans hopes for next season.
Click here for this year’s full NIT bracket with dates, tip-off times and TV information.
Meanwhile, here’s a link for this year’s NCAA Tournament bracket.
Also, this year’s NIT will feature some experimental rules. A link explaining those rule changes is here.