FanPost

Is it better to be the NIT Champ or the runner-up? (No, seriously.)

For shits and giggles (mostly giggles), I thought I'd take a look at how the NIT champion and runner-up each fared the season after playing for a championship at the Garden. Does basking in NIT glory lead to some level of complacency in the following season? Is there such a thing as an "NIT Bump"? Let's take a look at the past 10 years of NIT championship game participants:

2012 Champ: Stanford (26-11) This season, Stanford went 19-15 and lost in the second round of the NIT.

2012 Runner-up: Minnesota (23-15) Minnesota went 21-13 this year and lost in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

2011 Champ: Wichita State (29-8) The Shockers went 27-6 the following year and lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

2011 Runner-up: Alabama (25-12) The following year, the Crimson Tide posted a 21-12 record and lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

2010 Champ: Dayton (25-12) The Flyers went 22-14 the following season and lost in the first round of the NIT.

2010 Runner-up: North Carolina (20-17) The Tar Heels returned to form the following season and reached the Elite Eight in the 2011 NCAA tournament.

2009 Champ: Penn State (27-11) PSU crashed back to earth after its NIT championship, posting an 11-20 record.

2009 Runner-up: Baylor (24-15) The Bears went 28-8 the following season and reached the Elite Eight in the 2010 NCAA tournament.

2008 Champ: Ohio State (24-13) The Buckeyes went 22-11 the next season and made the NCAA tournament, but lost in the first round.

2008 Runner-up: Massachusetts (25-11) UMass crashed and burned the following year, going 12-18.

For those of you keeping score at home, only two of the five most recent NIT champions reached the NCAA tournament the following year, with neither winning a game. Four of the last five NIT runners-up reached the Big Dance, posting a collective NCAA tournament record of 7-4.

COINCIDENCE? Probably. Let's take a look at the next five years.

2007 Champ: West Virginia (27-9) Head coach John Beilein bolted for Michigan following the Mountaneers' NIT championship season, but West Virginia still went 26-11 the following year, reaching the Sweet Sixteen in the 2008 NCAA tournament.

2007 Runner-up: Clemson (25-11) The Tigers had a similar record the following season, at 24-10, but that was good enough to get them into the big dance. Clemson lost in the first round of the 2008 NCAA tournament.

2006 Champ: South Carolina (23-15) The Gamecocks love them some NIT. South Carolina won back-to-back NIT titles in '05 and '06. The following season was not so kind, however, ending in a 14-16 record with no postseason appearance.

2006 Runner-up: Michigan (22-11) Michigan went 22-13 the following season, losing in the second round of the NIT.

2005 Champ: South Carolina (20-13) Another year, another NIT title. South Carolina, of course, went 23-15 the following year and won the little dance again.

2005 Runner-up: St. Joseph's (24-12) St. Joe's slipped to 19-14 the following season, losing in the second round of the NIT.

2004 Champ: Michigan (23-11) Guess who else loved the NIT in the 2000s? The Wolverines crashed and burned the following season, though, posting a 13-18 record.

2004 Runner-up: Rutgers (20-13) These were brighter days for the Scarlet Knights. The '04-'05 season wasn't kind to them, either, though: Rutgers went 10-19.

2003 Champ: St. John's (21-13) (vacated) The following season for St. John's was, in a word, dreadful. Red Storm center Abe Keita admitted to taking cash from a member of the St. John's coaching staff, and the school voluntarily withdrew from postseason consideration. Head coach Mike Jarvis was fired six games into the following season, and was replaced by assistant coach Kevin Clark. Several players were dismissed from the team, leaving the Red Storm with just four scholarship players. They went an abysmal 6-21.

2002 Runner-up: Georgetown (19-15) The Hoyas' next year was fantastic compared to what happened to St. John's. They went 13-15.

Those next five years were much less kind to NIT champions and runners-up alike. For the champs, one NCAA tournament appearance (albeit a run to the Sweet Sixteen) and one repeat NIT championship. For the runners-up, a first-round NCAA tournament loss and two NIT second round losses. Three champs and two runners-up laid an egg the next year.

Final tally:

NIT Champs

  • 3 NCAA tournament appearances (two first-round losses and one Sweet Sixteen)
  • 3 NIT appearances (One championship, a second-round loss and a first-round loss)
  • 4 teams failed to make the postseason
NIT Runners-up
  • 5 NCAA tournament appearances (two Elite Eights, one second-round loss, two first-round losses)
  • 2 NIT appearances (both second-round losses)
  • 3 teams failed to make the postseason
Over the past 10 years, the runner-up has had slightly more success in the following postseason than the NIT champ, but not by much. A better way to look at it might be that, out of the 20 teams that played for an NIT championship over the last decade, 8 made the big dance the next year. Barring disaster, Iowa has a great shot to join those teams.

Unless otherwise expressly indicated by BHGP editors, this FanPost is strictly the viewpoint of the author and is not endorsed by BHGP in any way.

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