Some interesting news this morning via ESPN's Andy Katz, who is reporting that the Villanova Wildcats have committed to play in the 2015 NIT Tip-off event. On the surface, this is a nice development for 'Nova, who have made it a priority to participate in marquee early-season events in an effort to boost their non-conference strength of schedule.
The NIT Tip-off typically takes place during Thanksgiving Week at Madison Square Garden, another good bit of news for the heavy alumni population in the Greater New York City area.
However, the NIT event is facing some major challenges in 2014. The NCAA had to reduce the event size from 16 to 8 teams due to a lack of interest, and is even in the process of scheduling some Division II teams to fill out the schedule.
The plan for 2015 is to keep the event at 8 teams, with pre-set semifinal matchups (similar to how the Legends Classic will operate this year), and to get at least 3 more marquee teams to supplement Villanova. For reference, the marquee teams in this year's tournament are Gonzaga, St. John's, Minnesota and Georgia. The other 4 teams? St. Joseph's (PA), Stony Brook, LIU and Western Kentucky. Under the new format, Villanova would play one of the "non-marquee" teams as well, likely on-campus at The Pavilion.
Keep an eye on this as teams continue to be announced in the coming months - hopefully the NCAA can get their act together and put together a good event at The Garden.