Hire learning: NIT or not?

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.


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Dan Bloeme wrote on March 11, 2012 at 9:03 pm

This is Bruce Weber's second Illinois team (also 2007-08) that stayed home in the postseason as neither the NCAA or even the NIT wanted them. 100 NCAA teams were invited to either NCAA or NIT but not the Illini.

Dann001 wrote on March 12, 2012 at 3:03 am

He's gone! Give it a rest!

Salt Life wrote on March 12, 2012 at 8:03 am
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Yes we can rest now, but we will never forget the infamy.

urbanaman wrote on March 12, 2012 at 1:03 pm

That's right, Salt. I'll be fine once the nightmare stops - I'm on the playground choosing up sides and the only two kids left are Weber and Guenther and I have to choose one of them. Fortunately, I wake up in a cold sweat at that point and remind myself that we've got Thomas on the job now. Full speed ahead, baby...