Given this, Texas finishes the regular season — combined with Big 12 play — below .500 for the first time in Rick Barnes’ tenure in Austin at 16-17. With this sub .500 record, it’s more than likely Texas will not receive a bid to play in the National Invitational Tournament (NIT), which, in its 74 year history has never extended a bid to a team with a losing record.
Assuming the NIT doesn’t make an exception for the Longhorns — and there’s no reason to believe they will — the next possible post-season option for Texas would be if the team was extended a bid to be one of the 16 teams to compete in the fledgling College Basketball Invitational Tournament, organized by sports marketing firm the Gazelle Group.
It’s my argument that Texas should refuse a bid to either the NIT or CBIT.
Why you ask?
It’s a matter of expectations and rewarding inferior performance with what amounts to nothing more than a participation ribbon you would get as a 2nd grader running in a track tournament at the local elementary school. This team didn’t earn the right to play in the post-season.
If DeLoss Dodds and the Texas athletic administration want their fans to believe that Longhorns basketball is a focus for the university, and that it is not only a football school, accepting participation ribbons isn’t the right message to send. With the amount of talent available in the Lone Star State — which Texas cannot seem to be able to properly identify (or secure), for whatever reason — there’s no reason at all the team should ever miss an NCAA Tournament, regardless of how young or inexperienced they may be.
Devil’s Advocates will suggest that Texas should in fact accept a bid to play in the post-season simply because the young players need to be exposed to the post-season — regardless of whether it is at a low level or not. While this is understandable, is the CBIT really worth it?
Is the NIT really worth it?
I say no.
If the players truly had a voice in the decision, I bet they would also tell you no — and would instead rather take some time away, refocus their collective energy, and prepare for next season.
But, unfortunately, the decision isn’t theirs.
Money always speaks louder than reason– and if that money is available there will be post-season play.