Big 12 Basketball

Will The Oklahoma Sooners Defend Big 12’s NIT Turf?

NCAA Basketball: NIT Championship-George Washington vs Valparaiso

The Oklahoma Sooners’ 89-72 win over Missouri State in the opening round of the NIT could be the start of another long run by a Big 12 Team in the event.

The Sooners (19-15) won for the fifth time in their last six games, led by guard Umoja Gibson, who put up 28 points for Oklahoma. Guard Jordan Goldwire put up another 15 points while forward Tanner Groves had nine points and nine rebounds.

The Sooners will play either Colorado or St. Bonaventure in the next round, and the Sooners will host as the No. 1 seed in their bracket. That game will be played either March 19 or 20.

 

While the NIT may be a consolation prize for those teams that don’t make the NCAA Tournament, the fact is there was a time when the NIT was considered the more prestigious tournament.

And, lately, the Big 12 has been a major player in the event and used it as a springboard for bigger things the next season.

The Big 12 has won three of the last eight tournament — Baylor in 2013, TCU in 2017 and Texas in 2019. No conference has won more NIT titles in that span.

After Baylor won the 2013 NIT, the Bears used that as fuel to get back to the NCAA Tournament in 2014, where the Bears reached the Sweet 16.

TCU won the event in Jamie Dixon’s first season as head coach, and the following season the Horned Frogs reached the NCAA Tournament for just the seventh time in its history. TCU lost in the first round to Syracuse.

When Texas won the crown in 2019, the Longhorns beat TCU in the semifinals at Madison Square Garden before beating Lipscomb in the championship game. The next season, Texas was 19-12 and fighting for an NCAA Tournament berth before the postseason was canceled due to COVID-19.

You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.

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