I personally believe these tournaments serve a purpose with 363 teams. There are certainly good and deserving teams that compete in them. There have been teams with top 60 rankings in the past play in these 3rd Tier tournaments. There is a much lower percentage of postseason available for D1 basketball than some other sports like football for example. It’s good for coaches and teams to have something to play for in my opinion and a chance to end the season with a win and a few more games. There have been practical examples where teams have parlayed the experience into successful NIT or NCAA bids the next season as well.
The CBI has had teams with losing records and rankings in the 230+ range in their field in recent years. There is a component of pay to play, in this tier of tournaments and they aren’t for everyone. It might make sense if they fit the profile and aren’t projected for an NIT. Other justifications include lack of recent success or perhaps their coach is in his early years to use it to build some momentum or extra practice. This field may not feature the absolute best at the top it has before, but everyone is at least .500 in the field this year unlike some years past. That’s taking into account non-D1 wins though.
The obvious favorite to me is the number one seed Indiana State. We profiled their unique team earlier in the season. This appears to be a chalk tournament to me. If not Indiana State you got to go with the MWC team who finished 10-8 in the 5th best conference this season. This is a nice prize for San Jose State after finishing 7-23 (1-17) 293rd last season. This is what the CBI is about. Giving teams that made improvements like that a place to play for something and extend their season. If you are looking for a deeper sleeper, I like Milwaukee. I think the job Bart Lundy did in his first year was very solid. Rice might have one of the most talented teams in the tournament despite being near the bottom. We are really high on Max Fiedler and the duo of he and Olivari is one of the strongest IMO.
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