It's the 3rd best college basketball tournament. To most, it's an afterthought--a tournament for teams who weren't good enough... even for the NIT.
But for a team like Rutgers, that just started a new tenure, who's been starved for any kind of winning tradition for five years, is it a different situation? Especially when it could cost them up for seventy thousand dollars to host a home game?
Find out after the jump...Yes, the CBI (and lesser known CIT) are pay-to-play tournaments. Two years ago, Stanford paid $60,000 to host Boise State.
Visiting teams get their expenses paid by the organizers of the tournament, but at least part of that money comes from the host team. Also, teams with losing records can pay to enter--and four teams with losing records have been invited in the past.
How does this pertain to Rutgers? Well, unless they win the next three games, they will finish the season with a losing record. The NIT will be out of reach if that happens. And even if RU manages to get on a hot streak and finish just above .500, there's still no guarantee they'd be invited to the NIT.
So, would it be worth it to try and buy entry into one of the other postseason tournaments?
The reason Greg Schiano finds it important to go to any bowl that's offered is because--despite the cost--it benefits the team. The same can be said for Mike Rice's squad.
The team would get more practice time. The players who are expected to return next year will get even more time to fit into Mike Rice's system. Dane Miller, Austin Carroll, Mike Poole, Austin Johnson, and Gilvydas Biruta should all play important roles on the team next year. Giving them more practice time can only help. Miller can continue to work on finding his offensive role with the team. Biruta can work on becoming a dominant force in the paint.
With more practice, Kadeem Jack can continue to improve with an eye toward next year. Even Tyree Graham may be cleared to practice with the team by then. Carroll can work on his defense against live teams. The extra practice and extra games will improve chemistry with any of the players who are returning. Who knows? Perhaps someone unexpected will take more control of the team with an eye toward the future.
The seniors also need to be rewarded. James Beatty, Jonathan Mitchell and Mike Coburn have gone a long way toward changing the culture of this basketball team. Coburn, especially, had suffered for three years under Fred Hill. This year, a new coach demanded the best from his seniors, and the three bought in and helped changed the culture that had been seeded into this team.
They've had tastes of success--dismantling Miami when no one expected them to. Beating Villanova with a miracle. But joining one of these tournaments gives them a chance to do something only one member of the team has tasted before.
They could win a championship.
To perennial NCAA invitees, that might not mean much. But to this squad it would give the seniors a great sendoff and give the underclassmen a taste of what they hope is to come in the future.
So, while it would be a financial burden on the school, Rutgers has done stuff like this before. The International Bowl was a financial hit. And while football drives the bus, it's time the basketball team gets some love too. If marketed right, the school would get a decent turnout--especially if the team is matched up against someone from another power conference. No one would be expecting sellouts, but a home game or two would help ease the financial aspect.
Ultimately, this is worth it. The seniors could smile and the rest of the team would benefit from any extra experience they could get.
ADDENDUM: According to this Rivals thread, Coach Rice and the team have decided that, if their record is sub-.500, they will not accept a postseason bid.