For years, the NIT Season Tip-Off had been one of the most entertaining November tournaments to watch because it was the only one that included 16 teams and allowed for the hosts of the first two rounds — the four major programs that were taking part — to be at risk of missing out on the finals.
Two years ago, Delaware knocked off Virginia to advance to Madison Square Garden for the semifinals of the event. Back in 2006, Butler did the same thing, only the Bulldogs ended up winning the entire event.
That’s all going to change this season, according to a report from ESPN.com, as the NIT Season Tip-Off will be forced into the standard, four-team showcase format. The organizers were only able to get eight teams to sign up, meaning that the event itself will feature Georgia, Gonzaga, Minnesota and St. John’s determining a champion on the Wednesday and Friday surrounding Thanksgiving. The other four teams that had signed on — Stony Brook, LIU, St. Joseph’s and Western Kentucky — will play a double-header at Madison Square Garden on Thanksgiving Day.
In addition, there will be four non-conference games played, with St. Joseph’s traveling to Gonzaga, Stony Brook visiting Georgia, Western Kentucky tripping up to Minnesota and LIU taking on St. John’s.
The event will likely be held in the same format in 2015 and beyond.