While the Bears' quest for a NCAA Tournament berth came up short this afternoon, Baylor did find itself in the NIT Championship announced just moments ago. The Bears will face Long Beat State at 8 PM on Wednesday.
Baylor is No. 2 seed in #NIT, will host No. 7 Long Beach State at 8 pm CT Wednesday on ESPN2. #SicEm — Baylor Basketball (@BaylorMBB) March 18, 2013
I'm getting a lot of negative feedback on twitter about the concept of even playing in the NIT, and I have to be honest, I don't understand that at all. Some went so far as to say that we should decline the bid should it be offered (and it was, obviously), and end our season altogether.
I do not agree. Even though the NIT isn't the NCAA and will never be confused for it, the Bears still get tangible benefits from playing in those games. Word is that our 2009 NIT run set the stage for the 2010 Elite Eight finish by giving players who needed more experience the chance to get it, and the same could easily happen this year. Given more practice time, players we'll need next season like Rico Gathers, L.J. Rose, and Taurean Prince could improve, making our chances of getting back where we want to be next year even better. And even if you believe the NIT isn't worth much, there's still some positive exposure to be had from playing in it and playing well. We're still working recruits like Desmond Lee now, and keeping the name Baylor in the media in March has value in that respect.
Obviously this isn't where we wanted to be when the season started in October or finished just a few short days ago. We can't change any of that. What we can do is celebrate the chance this team has now to redeem a bit of the lost luster of 2012-2013 and send our seniors out with the best finish possible under the circumstances. They deserve that. And we get to see them do it at home through the first two rounds (if we win, obviously) before a potential rematch with Kentucky in the semifinals. It's not the NCAA Tournament, but that would be a huge game to win, if we got there.
Be serious for a second-- does anyone really not want to see more Rico???
Pierre has a message.
NIT IT IS! get to play at home at the Ferrell center infront of our great fans and best of all I get to play with my brothers still! #BU!— Pierre Jackson (@PierreJackson55) March 18, 2013