Wisconsin Should Have Refused NIT Invite, Drawn A Line In The Sand: HOOKSTEAD

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The Wisconsin Badgers should have refused to even entertain the idea of an NIT invite.

After an incredibly disappointing season, the Badgers are a two seed in the NIT and play Bradley Tuesday night.

If the program had any pride or held itself to the expectations fans grew to expect under Bo Ryan, the team wouldn’t play another second this season.

Let’s be crystal clear. The NIT is a consolation prize. Teams are playing for the right to argue they’re the best team not in the NCAA tournament.

Why would anyone want to participate in that kind of circus? Now, it makes sense if you’re a program. that doesn’t traditionally win. Knock yourself out at the NIT if that’s the case. That’s simply not the case with the Badgers.

Wisconsin has to set the tone.

Wisconsin basketball fans are furious right now, and for good reason. The Badgers went from being a B1G power to simply being average.

Under Bo Ryan, the team never missed the tournament. Greg Gard has now done it twice. The only thing saving his job is his two B1G titles in the past four years, but that only gets you so far. Fans want wins in March.

How many has Wisconsin had under him? Not many at all. At some point, you have to signal to fans the outrage and frustration is heard.

Wisconsin should have refused to play in the NIT. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

AD Chris McIntosh refusing to play in the NIT and declaring the program has higher expectations would have made it clear he’s taking the situation seriously.

Since 2002, the Badgers have nine regular season or conference tournament titles and multiple tournament runs.

Fans should demand better.

Programs with that kind of pedigree shouldn’t ever be satisfied with the NIT and the Badgers damn sure shouldn’t promote it like it’s a good thing. Fans went from winning the B1G once every few years and regular trips to the Sweet 16 to playing in the NIT.

The most frustrating part is it’s being treated like a positive instead of incredibly disappointed. Why is the program promoting this?

The NIT is neat for teams that don’t expect to win. That’s what it is. We can pretend it’s something else, but it’s not. The NIT is very literally a backup plan. Everyone would rather get blown out in the NCAA tournament over playing in the NIT. Wisconsin fans expect better, deserve better and refusing to play in the NIT would signal the athletic department has high expectations and hears the outrage. Going along with this song and dance is simply not acceptable for a once proud program.

Written by David Hookstead

David Hookstead is a reporter for OutKick covering a variety of topics with a focus on football and culture.

He also hosts of the podcast American Joyride that is accessible on Outkick where he interviews American heroes and outlines their unique stories. Before joining OutKick, Hookstead worked for the Daily Caller for seven years covering similar topics.

Hookstead is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin.


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  1. I agree, but it’s not just Wisconsin. The whole useless tournament should be eliminated. The best thing fans of any team that go to that tournament can do is not watch. Hopefully if attendance at the games and TV ratings sunk too low they would stop with the nonsense.

  2. Stupid take. “We are too good for the NIT.” Go ahead, don’t show and look like entitled clowns, like UNC. I’m glad the Badgers and UM at least showed up to play being a BigTen guy, despite the fact that my team made a rare appearance in the Big Dance and acquitted themselves well.

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