National Invitational Tournament Requirements

By Steve Silverman

The National Invitational Tournament (NIT) is a college basketball postseason tournament for teams that don't make the 65-team NCAA tournament.
Prior to the early 1950s, the New York City-based NIT was the most important college basketball tournament and the winner was recognized as the nation's best team. However, the NCAA tournament eclipsed the NIT in the 1950s and by the late 1960s, the NIT was relegated to a tournament for the best of the NCAA non-qualifiers. The gradual expansion of the NCAA tournament from 16 to 65 teams further lessened the significance of the NIT. Today, it provides decent basketball teams a chance to play in the postseason.


All full-members of Division I in good standing are technically eligible. Programs that are making the transition to Division I from lower levels are often prohibited from postseason appearances for a specified period. Some NCAA penalties for program infractions also prohibit postseason appearances

Win-loss requirements

A common misconception is only teams with records of .500 or better can receive an invitation. However, the tournament charter provides for no such requirement. It only asks that the participants come from a pool of "the 54 best teams" available.

Conference affiliations

There are no requirements, limitations or preferences when it comes to conference affiliation. The only conference stipulation is that a regular-season conference champion that is not selected to the NCAA tournament will receive an automatic berth in the NIT.


The NIT was played in New York from start to finish for decades. However, the tournament is played at the home basketball courts of its participants for the first three rounds. The semifinals and final remain held in New York.

About The Author

Steve Silverman is an award-winning writer, covering sports since 1980. Silverman authored The Minnesota Vikings: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and Who's Better, Who's Best in Football -- The Top 60 Players of All-Time, among others, and placed in the Pro Football Writers of America awards three times. Silverman holds a Master of Science in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism.


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