Should UCLA have accepted their invitation to the NIT?

The Bruin fanbase seems to be split on if the Bruins should or should not have accepted the invitation to play in the 2024 NIT.

2024 NIT
2024 NIT / Ryan Hunt/GettyImages

Let's take a look at the reason why it would have been beneficial for UCLA to have accepted an invitation to the National Invitation Tournament this year.

About a month ago, Mick Cronin let it be known that he would more than likely decline an invitation to the NIT. However, even though UCLA had a 16-17 overall record, it appears that the Bruins declined an invite to participate in the 2024 National Invitation Tournament.

A graphic that was shown during the tournament's opening night claims that, UCLA was one of 17 schools to have declined an invitation to the NIT as seen below.

Here are some reasons UCLA should have strongly considered accepting the invitation to the NIT this year.

  • Extra Games: The NIT offers a chance for more competition and would have kept the season going for the UCLA players and coaching staff. Their playing could have been valuable for development, especially for a younger team like UCLA.
  • Tournament Experience: The NIT provides a taste of post-season tournament basketball on a national stage as all games are televised through the ESPN network. This experience would have potentially benefitted returning players for the following season.
  • Recruiting: Playing in the NIT can enhance a program's national profile and impress potential recruits. However, Cronin alluded to being on the recruiting trail and monitoring the transfer portal at the conclusion of the season but had UCLA made a run in the NIT, how could that of not have benefitted recruiting efforts?
  • Momentum: A strong NIT run can generate positive momentum for the following season, instead of ending the season with a losing record. Had they won their first three games of the NIT Tournament and then lost in the semifinals, UCLA would have ended with a 19-18 record as opposed to their 16-17 record. Momementum from the NIT has work

Two main reasons they should have played in the NIT this year.

UCLA's two leading scorers are only sophomores and the Bruins have seven scholarship true freshmen on their team and getting them post season tournament experience would potentially benefit them going into next season. The hope would be that the core of UCLA's underclassmen would have been able to play in more games and gain more confidence with some wins heading into next season.

The other reason being is that UCLA could have won some games in the NIT because even though lost six of their last eight games, the Bruins were looking like a team over their past three games as a team that could make a postseason run. They defeated both Arizona State and Oregon State but their game against Oregon was also impressive because they were leading the Ducks by five at halftime and only lost to the eventually Pac-12 Tournament Oregon Ducks by two points. There is good reason to believe that even if UCLA had to play a team like Butler in the first round of the NIT, they more than likely would have won that game for example and even won a game or two more.

UCLA fans can argue if they should or should not have accepted the bid from the NIT but there are reasons to believe it would have been beneficial for the program moving forward.

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