Returning to elements of its original format after 22 years, the NIT Season Tip-Off will move to a doubleheader "common site" format for the 2006 event. The announcement was made today by NIT Committee Chair C.M. Newton and Greg Shaheen, president of the NIT, L.L.C. The format change will enable more fans to enjoy the event and guarantees participating institutions of at least two games.
The tournament will begin in four regions: East (Charlotte, Charlotte Bobcats Arena); South (Nashville, Nashville Arena); Midwest (Indianapolis, Conseco Fieldhouse); and West (Spokane, Spokane Arena).
"We've been examining this event for the past eight months and the importance of giving our teams an opportunity to play at least two games in regional sites showed itself as a priority early in the process," Newton commented. Going to regional sites and guaranteeing teams two games levels the playing field and just makes good basketball sense," he continued.
Carolina, which won the NCAA championship in 2005, headlines a field which includes Baylor, Belmont, Butler, Colorado State, Fordham, Gonzaga, Indiana, Iona, Lafayette, UNC Wilmington, Notre Dame, Rice, Sacred Heart, Tennessee and Winthrop.
The first-round doubleheaders tip off in Indianapolis and Nashville on November 13 and in Charlotte and Spokane on November 14. Winners from each site will compete in New York's Madison Square Garden in the NIT Season Tip-Off semifinal and championship doubleheaders, November 22 and 24.
The Midwest and South Regions will be played November 13 and 14. Indiana will play Lafayette and Notre Dame will face Butler in Indianapolis, while the Nashville site will feature Tennessee vs. Fordham and UNC Wilmington vs. Belmont.
The East and West Regions will take place November 14 and 15. North Carolina will play Sacred Heart and Winthrop will take on Iona in Charlotte; in Spokane, Gonzaga will take on Rice and Baylor will face Colorado State.
ESPN's family of networks will once telecast the tournament, with coverage scheduled for at least 12 games.
Information regarding game times and tickets will be provided in the coming weeks. For more information on the NIT, go to www.nit.org.