Saturday, July 20, 2024

NIT, D-2, D-3 finals join 2026 Indy Final Four

The NCAA will host a men’s college basketball soiree in 2026 that will feature multiple title games in the same city, the association announced Thursday.

Indianapolis, the host of the 2026 Final Four, will also host the Division II and Division III national title games along with the semifinals and finals of the NIT. It’s the second time the NCAA has staged all three national championship games in the same city (Atlanta, 2013).

The NIT semifinals will be played at Butler‘s Hinkle Fieldhouse, and the title game will be held at another unannounced venue. The Division II and Division III national title games in men’s basketball will be played at Gainbridge Fieldhouse one day before the Division I championship game, which will take place at Lucas Oil Stadium.

“This will be a tremendous celebration of men’s college basketball across all three divisions in Indy,” Dan Gavitt, the NCAA’s senior vice president of basketball, said in a statement. “When we did this in 2013, we had nearly 8,000 fans watching the Divisions II and III championship games, and the final two nights of this year’s NIT at Hinkle Fieldhouse featured sold-out crowds of more than 9,000 fans. It will be an awesome opportunity for student-athletes at the participating schools, as well as a showcase for the legendary college basketball fans in Indiana.”

The NCAA also announced Thursday that it will consider new analytics tools as the selection committee picks the 37 at-large teams to include in the 2024-25 tournament field. Both Bart Torvik’s rankings and the Wins Against Bubble metric — an assessment of a team’s performance against its schedule compared to the average bubble team (think baseball’s WAR stat) — will be featured in the evaluation process.

“The committee has always valued different data points and metrics to assist with their evaluation process, and these two metrics have increasingly been referenced by members in recent years,” Gavitt said. “Adding them to the team sheet ensures that all 12 members easily have access to this data. The Torvik rankings, along with BPI and KenPom, gives the committee three predictive ratings, while the WAB, Strength of Record and KPI gives them three results-based metrics, all of which, in addition to the NET, will be beneficial to the team evaluation process.”

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