What Is The CBI?
I had the very same question. In the grand tier of postseason tournaments the NCAA one is king. It attracts the most viewers and so the most money and the most prestige.
That is followed by the National Invitational Tournament, actually the oldest on-going tournament and the one that had the most prestige for about 20 years leading up to the late 50s. It is now owned by the NCAA after the original owners — a consortium of New York based colleges — sold the rights as part of settling their lawsuit. Said suit alleged that the NCAA’s 1971 rule prohibiting any member institution from accepting any other bid (NIT in practice) after turning down an NCAA Tournament bid.
This was in response to Marquette’s 1970 decision to decline the NCAA invite to go to the NIT. In the earliest years some teams competed in both tournaments and there were even games between the champions of both leagues.
Now, the NIT is firmly the “loser’s tournament” despite attempts to increase the prestige by fiddling with the rules. For the Kentuckies and Dukes of this world, it is a loser’s tournament — apparently UCLA doesn’t even display their 1985 NIT title banner — but to everyone else, mid major’s especially, it is a nice accomplishment.
What about the other tournaments?
Well even the plucky NIT had it’s biases. The tournament leveraged ESPN’s advice for a long time (until the NCAA purchased it) to decide on the field.
The College Basketball Invitational is owned by the Gazelle Group — an organization that presents itself as a sports marketing firm emphasizing event production and management. The group puts on four basketball events — the 2k Classic, Legends Classic, Gotham Classic, and the CBI. The CBI began in 2008
The fee for entrance was $50,000 as recently as 2014.
You can see why this tournament is not ideal for every non-NCAA, non-NIT participant. There are notable benefits: home games for the host teams. All games are played on campus sites, and the final is a best-of-three series with one team hosting two of the three.
It also serves as spring-board for teams with low profiles but young rosters — like North Texas. Grant McCasland is in his first year and more time means more repetitions. In this way the CBI is very much like a bowl game except for the pay-to-play portion.
The College Insider.com Tournament began in 2009 with something like the same idea as the CBI — modeled after the NIT, with higher seeds hosting the games. The fee for entrance was $30,000 as recently as 2014.
The Vegas 16 was yet another post season tournament that is now all but defunct. Current CUSA members ODU and La Tech participated, with the Monarchs winning in 2016 over a field of 8. Yes, only 8 teams participated in the Vegas 16.
Which CUSA Teams Are Where?
- NCAA Tournament:
Marshall is the the big dance and will earn the conference approximately $1.6 million over the next six years if they get bounced in the first round. Anything beyond that and it is gravy. For comparison, MTSU last year appeared in two games and is bringing in about $3 million over a six year span for that effort. Each ‘unit’ or appearance fee is worth about $272,000 at last count (it increases by about $15K or so each year) for six years. More games = more money.
TV: TNT 12:20 Friday vs Wichita State
Fun stuff: there will be experimental rules during the NIT.
- 3 point line changed to FIBA distance of 22 feet 1.75 inches.
- Wider FT Lane — NBA width of 16 feet
- 10 minutes quarters like in the women’s game
- No 1-and-1 rule. Just two free throws awarded
- Shot clock reset to 20 seconds on an offensive rebound
Middle Tennesee and WKU will be the league’s entrants into the tournament.
Middle takes on Vermont at home on March 13th at 8pm on ESPNU. Western will host Boston College at the same time on ESPN3.
North Texas accepted an invite to the CBI and will play at South Dakota on March 14th.
TV: ESPNU for the championship round. School pay stream for the earlier rounds
UTSA accepted a bid and will host Lamar on Wednesday.
The basketball season is not quite over for everyone not named Marshall. Let’s basketball.