What can make a college basketball player feel better about playing in the NIT and watching the NCAA tournament? Playing in the NIT and watching the College Basketball Invitational.
In what seems a clear case of March Sadness, teams that didn't make the NCAA 65-team field or got a sniff from the 32-team NIT now have a place to go. The inaugural CBI began last week with a Sweet and Sour 16 playing to make the final, which will be a best-of-three series to determine a "champion."
Teams were invited based on "performance" during the season, according to the tournament's website. Oh, and home teams had to guarantee $60,000 in tickets sales.
March has a lower bracket
The buzz leading into the tournament was deafening. Utah forward Shaun Green may have spoke for everyone involved, telling the Salt Lake Tribune, "Our whole team's excited that we just get to continue to play."
You can already hear the "We're No. 98!" chants.
What was the last alternative tournament allowed by the NCAA?
The real shame about the College Basketball Invitational is that Miami of Ohio was eliminated in the first round, depriving tournament officials the perfect television tie-in.
That's right, CBI: Miami.
San Diego vs. Western Kentucky today is not a Collegiate Basketball Invitational matchup, but it is decent CSI-type evidence that Bob Knight is completely qualified to be an ESPN analyst.
"Without any question, the Big East is the best conference."
San Diego defeated Connecticut in the first round.
Have whistle, will travel
The Sparks are seeking an assistant coach and apparently don't want to risk missing out on a qualified candidate. So the team sent out a public casting call in the form of a news release Friday, though "extensive college experience" and "some professional level experience" is preferred.
Sounds like a job for Larry Brown. He's coached everywhere else.
Let's go to the tape
China is considering banning live television broadcasts from Tiananmen Square during the Beijing Olympics, apparently concerned about possible protests during the Games.
Memo to China: When was the last time NBC showed an Olympic event live?
Things are not looking too good for New York sports fans. Oh, sure, the Giants won the Super Bowl, but things are not so positive elsewhere.
The Boston Red Sox have won more World Series titles than the Yankees this century. The New York Rangers are well into their next 53-year Stanley Cup drought. And the Knicks, well, their fans have taken to panhandling.
A Knicks fan has started a website, hoping to lure the Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James to New York by raising funds "to buy LeBron a New York gift basket (his own suite at Yankee Stadium, additional salary, Gloria James courtside seats, Ferrari, etc.) . . ."
A couple of flaws there. Yankee Stadium is going to be torn down at the end of this season, and James already owns a Ferrari.
So what to get the man who has everything?
Well, there is this bridge in Brooklyn, and Briefing just happens to have the deed . . .
The National Commissioners Invitational, the NCAA's two-year effort to squash the NIT in 1974 and 1975. Indiana won the first one, beating USC, and you can bet that trophy is proudly displayed in Bloomington among those five NCAA championship plaques.
Phoenix Suns guard Steve Nash, who has a film company and recently shot a commercial for a shoe company, sounded downright giddy about future projects, telling the Arizona Republic, "It was really fun for me to watch it grow organically."
Grow organically? Nash just got the attention of 60% of the NBA.