Hire learning: NIT or not?
Each day during the search for an Illinois basketball coach, beat writer Paul Klee will check in:
The NIT bracket is released tonight (8, ESPNU).
That would be the only postseason event for Illinois. Athletic director Mike Thomas said the Illini wouldn't accept an invitation to the CBI or collegeinsider.com tourneys.
After the freefall of the past few weeks and Friday's firing of coach Bruce Weber, several players said they don't have an interest in playing in the NIT. That, of course, could change once everyone steps back, emotions are calmed and some perspective is gained.
All of that could be a moot point, anyway. The more important part of the equation might be this: Would the Illini's resume merit an NIT berth?
Illinois has lost 12 of 14 games. It is 2-8 in true road games and shows one road win since November — and the first NIT game would be on the road because the Assembly Hall is booked.
Plus, at least three other Big Ten teams could be ahead of Illinois (17-16, 6-12 Big Ten) in the NIT pecking order: Northwestern (18-13, 8-10), Iowa (17-16, 8-10) and Minnesota (19-14, 6-12). The NIT hasn't taken four teams from the Big Ten since 1993.
Regardless, Thomas said the Illini would accept an invitation to the NIT. "Hopefully there's more basketball to be played," he said. Interim Jerrance Howard would serve as the coach.