On Saturday, Navy’s season came to an end in an upset loss to the Patriot League’s nine-seed, Loyola (MD), in that conference’s tournament. This, for now, ended what could be considered one of Navy’s best seasons in the millennium, as the Midshipmen won the Patriot League’s regular season crown. The season may likely be over but the NIT should give the Mids a look for several reasons.
The Patriot League has never produced an at-large bid and its teams generally receive low seedings in the NCAA Tournament, but that does not take away from what Navy did this year. The Midshipmen went 15-3 and 12-1 in the Patriot League with their only loss to an Army team currently in the Patriot League semifinals.
Out of conference, the Midshipmen have a solid resume despite their small sample. They have wins over Mount St. Mary’s, George Washington, and Georgetown. All three wins are significant in their own way, as Mount St. Mary’s will play in the NEC title game on Tuesday despite only an 11-10 record, while Georgetown is a brand name and wins against projected tournament teams Xavier and Creighton along with bubble team St. John’s.
Finally, George Washington went 5-12 but were competitive in a solid A-10 Conference, going 3-5 and giving projected at-large squad, VCU a closely-contested game, losing by 7. Their one loss was to Maryland, who is a projected nine-seed. The Midshipmen only trailed by 7 at halftime before the Terrapins pulled away for an 82-52 win.
The Midshipmen’s resume is not the strongest, but a 15-3 record looks good on paper and their resume is solid in comparison with a lot of their counterparts from one-bid leagues.
They Have A Brand
The Service Academies have a comparative advantage to schools in other one-bid leagues. Their national brand status attracts a national following and television viewers often. For Navy basketball, this is no different.
The NIT can attract a larger audience by giving the troops a chance to compete in this odd season. Pairing Navy against other eastern powers like Syracuse or St. John’s, who are both projected to be on the outside looking in, can create storylines that the NIT needs.
Also, ever heard of David Robinson? The Naval Academy has a place in college and pro basketball history thanks to the Admiral’s legendary status. These two factors can combine to give the NIT some welcomed brand power to boost its profile during March Madness.
I mentioned it briefly above, but Navy playing in the NIT can give viewers the type of storylines everyone loves in March. Imagine if Navy topples Duke in the first round of the NIT. A storyline like this can give the college basketball teams another team to get behind once their team exits the NCAA tournament or all the Cinderellas are eliminated.
Additionally, Navy has not made the NIT since 1962, their only appearance. Here’s a look at what society was like the last time Navy was in the NIT.
President: John F. Kennedy
Highest Grossing Film: The Longest Day ($39,100,000)
Price of Gas: $0.31 per gallon
#1 Billboard Song: Hey Baby! By Bruce Channel
Why not break the drought and invite the Midshipmen? The NIT already has a rich history with the Academies, as Army has made the tournament eight times, reaching the semifinals five times, while Air Force reached the semifinals in 2007. Navy can make a run and continue this tradition. Why would the NIT pass this up?
There’s so many reasons for the NIT to extend a bid to Navy. The NIT can reverse the trend of giving in to uninterested brand name schools and give a bid to a motivated team having a signature season with a strong brand themselves.
Maybe Navy can benefit from teams pulling out from the postseason, like we saw this past college football season. Until then, only time will tell. However, if that happens, we got the perfect team for you, NIT. Do the right thing, please.