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Who is still playing for an NIT championship? A look at the final four teams

North Texas, Wisconsin, UAB and Utah Valley all have the chance to take home their program’s first-ever NIT title

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UVU is one of four teams — along with UAB, North Texas and Wisconsin — playing in this year’s NIT final four, where there will be a first-time NIT champion.

Utah Valley men’s basketball takes on Cincinnati Bearcats in the NIT quarterfinals at the UCCU Center in Orem, Utah, on Wednesday, March 22, 2023. UVU is one of four teams — along with UAB, North Texas and Wisconsin — playing in this year’s NIT final four, where there will be a first-time NIT champion.

Isaac Hale, UVU Marketing

There is guaranteed to be a first-time winner in the 2023 National Invitation Tournament.

Of the final four teams remaining in this year’s NIT field, none has ever reached the NIT championship game.

And for the first time in its history, the NIT champion won’t be crowned in New York City.

Where will the 2023 NIT final four be played?

For the first time in the NIT’s history dating back to its inaugural tournament in 1938 (it wasn’t played in 2020), the tournament’s semifinals and championship game will not be played at Madison Square Garden.

This year, the semifinals and championship game will be played in Las Vegas at the Orleans Arena.

Indianapolis will host the 2024 NIT final four.

What is the schedule for the 2023 NIT final four?

Semifinal No. 1: North Texas vs. Wisconsin

  • When: Tuesday, 5 p.m. MDT
  • TV: ESPN

Semifinal No. 2: UAB vs. Utah Valley

  • When: Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. MDT
  • TV: ESPN2

Championship game: Semifinal winners

  • When: Thursday, 7:40 p.m. MDT
  • TV: ESPN2

Who is playing in the 2023 NIT final four?

North Texas Mean Green

  • Record: 29-7.
  • Head coach: Grant McCasland.
  • 2023 NIT results: First round, win vs. Alcorn State (69-53); Second round, win vs. Sam Houston (75-55); Quarterfinals, win at Oklahoma State (65-59).
  • NIT history: Second appearance. North Texas is 4-1 all-time in NIT games, after making the NIT for the first time last year and advancing to the second round.
  • Stat leaders: Points — Tylor Perry, 17.3, Kai Huntsberry, 12.0; Rebounds — Abou Ousmane, 6.0; Assists — Huntsberry, 3.1. 
  • Notable: North Texas leads the country in team defense, giving up 55.7 points per game. So far, no NIT opponent has scored more than 59 points against the Mean Green. North Texas is expected to be without big man Ousmane, though, due to a family emergency, according to the Denton Record-Chronicle’s Brett Vito.
  • Quotable: “These guys have continuously made plays in big moments and I do believe that they do that because they have the trust of their teammates, and they all love each other. That’s a big part of winning is how do you stay connected as a group and things get hard and when things are going good, and these guys have done that, and they believe in each other.” — McClasland, to reporters in Las Vegas this week about why his program has experienced so much postseason success in recent years.

Wisconsin Badgers

  • Record: 20-14.
  • Head coach: Greg Gard.
  • 2023 NIT results: First round, win vs. Bradley (81-62); Second round, win vs. Liberty (75-71); Quarterfinals, win at Oregon (61-58).
  • NIT history: Fifth appearance. Wisconsin is 5-4 all-time in NIT games, with its semifinal appearance this year the furthest the Badgers have ever advanced in the tournament.
  • Stat leaders: Points — Steven Crowl, 12.2, Chucky Hepburn, 12.1; Rebounds — Crowl, 6.9; Assists — Hepburn, 2.8. 
  • Notable: Wisconsin has more Quad 1 wins (five) than the other three teams in the NIT semifinal field, thanks to being a part of the Big Ten Conference, though the Badgers are ranked the lowest among the four in the NCAA’s NET rankings at No. 80.
  • Quotable: “I felt like it just shows that we’re pretty resilient and that we have had a lot of ups and downs throughout the season, and that could have been another turning point where things fell apart. But we took it as an opportunity to come together and get some wins and play some good basketball.” — Senior forward Tyler Wahl, to reporters in Las Vegas this week about what he’s learned about his team from the Badgers’ postseason run.

UAB Blazers

  • Record: 28-9.
  • Head coach: Andy Kennedy.
  • 2023 NIT results: First round, win vs. Southern Miss (88-60); Second round, win vs. Morehead State (77-59); Quarterfinals, win at Vanderbilt (67-59).
  • NIT history: 13th appearance. UAB is 17-12 all-time in NIT games and has twice before reached the NIT semifinals (1989 and 1993), though the Blazers have never played in the championship game.
  • Stat leaders: Points — Jordan Walker, 22.6, Eric Gaines, 11.6; Rebounds — Trey Jamison, 8.4; Assists — Gaines, 4.6. 
  • Notable: Kennedy was previously the head coach at Ole Miss for 12 seasons and took the Rebels to the NIT semifinals twice, losing in the semis in 2008 and 2010.
  • Quotable: “When I watched the tape, the team that I can most equate ... to that we are familiar with is FAU: They spread you, they play fast, they have multiple guys that can beat you off the bounce, they have got rim protection and they have got depth, and again Mark does a great job.” — Kennedy, to reporters in Las Vegas this week on who UVU reminds him of, comparing them to Florida Atlantic, which made the NCAA Final Four.  

Utah Valley Wolverines

  • Record: 28-8.
  • Head coach: Mark Madsen.
  • 2023 NIT results: First round, win at New Mexico (83-69); Second round, win at Colorado (81-69); Quarterfinals, win vs. Cincinnati (74-68).
  • NIT history: Second appearance. UVU is 3-1 all-time in NIT games, including an opening-round loss to Cal in its first appearance in 2014.
  • Stat leaders: Points — Justin Harmon, 13.9, Le’Tre Darthard, 13.8; Rebounds — Aziz Bandaogo, 10.2; Assists — Trey Woodbury, 4.7. 
  • Notable: UVU leads the country in blocked shots, averaging 6.6 per game, with Bandaogo leading all Wolverines (and is fourth nationally) with 2.9 per game.
  • Quotable: “It’s been cool. I mean, it’s been full circle now. It’s been a little bit crazy since we were just here a couple weeks ago. But I’m excited that I get to go out with a bang in Vegas and just always excited to be home.” — Woodbury, to reporters in Las Vegas this week on playing in front of his hometown Vegas crowd as a senior.