In what could be the last year for the National Invitation Tournament, ESPN will provide blanket coverage of the nation’s oldest college basketball postseason party. Unfortunately, not many people take the NIT seriously anymore, however, it is a chance for teams to get some postseason play. Here is what ESPN’s family of networks will air over the next few weeks.
Notice Mike Patrick will call a handful of games here and Ron Franklin in what will most likely be his last work for ESPN will do the NIT semis and finals with his old Big 12 partner Fran Fraschilla and Bill Raftery. Ron has said he plans to retire after the college basketball season.
Connecticut, Illinois, North Carolina, Mississippi State and more among Teams Showcased in ESPN’s Extensive Coverage of National Invitation Tournament
Exclusive coverage of the 2010 National Invitation Tournament on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN360.com – 10 first-round games, extensive second-round action, all quarterfinals, semifinals and the championship – will begin with six first-round games Tuesday, March 16, and four first-round matchups Wednesday, March 17.The 32-team field includes last year’s NCAA Tournament Champion in North Carolina, 23 teams with 20 or more wins, and St. John’s, the NIT record holder for most appearances, games and championships, in its first NIT since 2003.Northeastern and Connecticut get things started Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2 and ESPN360.com, followed by five more games including Texas Tech at Seton Hall at 9 p.m. on ESPN2 and William & Mary at defending NCAA Champion North Carolina at 9:30 p.m. on ESPN.Coverage of second-round games begins Friday, March 19. The semifinals on Tuesday, March 30, and NIT Championship on Thursday, April 1, will be telecast on the ESPN networks live from New York’s Madison Square Garden.The NIT featured exclusively on ESPN follows a successful 2009 campaign in which ESPN audiences increased from 2008 coverage. ESPN’s six telecasts averaged a 1.1 and 1,033,000 households, up 10 percent and 11 percent, respectively, over 2008 (1.0 and 929,000 households for seven games). ESPN2, with 11 telecasts, averaged a 0.7 and 662,000 households for increases of 40 percent and 32 percent, respectively, over 2008 (0.5 and 502,000 households; 11 contests).On Sunday, March 14, ESPNU’s NIT Selection Show presented the live announcement of the NIT field, which features 32 teams. This is the fifth year in which all Division I conference regular-season champions that will not be in the NCAA Tournament are guaranteed an NIT bid (the eight this year include Weber State, Troy, Coastal Carolina, Kent State, Jacksonville, Stony Brook, Quinnipiac and Jackson State).The NIT, founded in 1938, is the nation’s oldest postseason college basketball tournament.2010 NIT Schedule (times subject to change)
Date Time (ET) Matchup Commentators Network Tue, Mar 16 7 p.m. NIT First Round: Northeastern at Connecticut Mike Patrick & Tim Welsh ESPN2 / ESPN360.com 8 p.m. NIT First Round: N.C. State at USF Mike Gleason & Mark Adams ESPNU / ESPN360.com 9 p.m. NIT First Round: Texas Tech at Seton Hall Ron Franklin & Fran Fraschilla ESPN2 / ESPN360.com 9:30 p.m. NIT First Round: William & Mary at North Carolina Brad Nessler & Jimmy Dykes ESPN / ESPN360.com 10 p.m. NIT First Round: Jackson State at Mississippi State Clay Matvick & Joe Dean, Jr. ESPNU / ESPN360.com 11 p.m. NIT First Round: Jacksonville at Arizona State Terry Gannon & Stephen Bardo ESPN2 / ESPN360.com Wed, Mar 17 7 p.m. NIT First Round: Weber State at Cincinnati Mike Patrick & Tim Welsh ESPN2 / ESPN360.com 7 p.m. NIT First Round: Northwestern at Rhode Island John Rooke & Tim O’Toole ESPNU / ESPN360.com 9 p.m. NIT First Round: St. John’s at Memphis John Saunders & Bob Valvano ESPN2 / ESPN360.com 9 p.m. NIT First Round: Illinois at Stony Brook Dan McLaughlin & Dickey Simpkins ESPNU / ESPN360.com Fri, Mar 19 TBD NIT Second Round Ron Franklin & Mark Gottfried ESPN2 / ESPN360.com Sat, Mar 20 TBD NIT Second Round Dari Nowkhah & LaPhonso Ellis ESPN / ESPN360.com 5 p.m. NIT Second Round TBD ESPNU / ESPN360.com Mon, Mar 22 7 p.m. NIT Second Round Mike Patrick, Tim Welsh ESPN / ESPN360.com 8 p.m. NIT Second Round TBD ESPNU / ESPN360.com 9 p.m. NIT Second Round Ron Franklin, Mark Gottfried ESPN / ESPN360.com 11:30 p.m. NIT Second Round Ryan Burr, Bob Valvano ESPN2 / ESPN360.com Tue, Mar 23 7 p.m. NIT Quarterfinal John Sciambi & LaPhonso Ellis ESPN / ESPN360.com 9 p.m. NIT Quarterfinal John Saunders & Bob Valvano ESPN / ESPN360.com Wed, Mar 24 7 p.m. NIT Quarterfinal Mike Patrick & Tim Welsh ESPN2 / ESPN360.com 9 p.m. NIT Quarterfinal Brad Nessler & Jimmy Dykes ESPN2 / ESPN360.com Tue, Mar 30 7 p.m. NIT Semifinal Ron Franklin, Fran Fraschilla & Bill Raftery ESPN2 HD / ESPN360.com 9 p.m. NIT Semifinal Ron Franklin, Fran Fraschilla & Bill Raftery ESPN2 HD / ESPN360.com Thu, Apr 1 7 p.m. NIT Championship Ron Franklin, Fran Fraschilla & Bill Raftery ESPN HD / ESPN360.comSchedule subject to change
That will do it.