With so many NBA prospects electing to return to school rather than deal with the lockout, the best teams in college basketball are as good as they've been in the last decade, creating a domino effect that has lasted all the way to the NIT.
The field of 32 features a number of teams from Power Six conferences, including Washington, the Pac-12 regular season champion which features as many as three future first-round picks.
There's also several mid-major programs, like Drexel from the CAA, who could easily make a deep run in college basketball's other tournament.
And while few fans outside of the schools playing will pay the NIT much attention, a deep run can set up a program for success in the following year. Wichita State took the momentum from their 2011 NIT championship into a 27-5 regular season and a No. 5 seed in this year's field of 68.
Here's the field. Regions are arranged from the top-left to the bottom right of the bracket:
No. 1 Washington Huskies vs. No. 8 Texas-Arlington Mavericks
No. 4 Northwestern Wildcats vs. No. 5 Akron Zips
No. 3 Oregon Ducks vs. No. 6 LSU Tigers
No. 2 Dayton Flyers vs. No. 7 Iowa Hawkeyes
No. 1 Tennessee Volunteers vs. No. 8 Savannah St. Tigers
No. 4 Middle Tenn. St. Blue Raiders vs. No. 5 Marshall Thundering Herd
No. 3 La Salle Explorers vs. No. 6 Minnesota Golden Gophers
No. 2 Miami Hurricanes vs. No. 7 Valparaiso Crusaders
No. 1 Seton Hall Pirates vs. No. 8 Stony Brook Seawolves
No. 4 Mississippi St. Bulldogs vs. UMass Minutemen
No. 3 Drexel Dragons vs. Central Florida Knights
No. 2 St. Joseph's Hawks vs. No. 7 Northern Iowa Panthers
No. 1 Arizona Wildcats vs. No. 8 Bucknell Bison
No. 4 Oral Roberts Golden Eagles vs. No. 8 Nevada Wolf Pack
No. 3 Stanford Cardinal vs. No. 6 Cleveland St. Vikings
No. 2 Mississippi Rebels vs. No. 7 Illinois St. Redbirds
For more on the NIT, be sure to check out our NCAA basketball hub. Also be sure to check out our 2012 NCAA Tournament for more on the Big Dance.