The NIT Season Tip-Off is in flux and it has put Gonzaga in a scheduling bind.
The Bulldogs hope the tournament can still work out under a less-than-ideal format but they’re keeping their options open, athletic director Mike Roth said.
Gonzaga originally committed to the late November tournament as one of four host teams with Georgia, Minnesota and St. John’s. If Gonzaga won two home games it would advance to Madison Square Garden in New York for the semifinals and championship/consolation.
But the NIT has struggled to fill out the 16-team field and proposed one home game followed by three games in three days at MSG, one of those a guarantee game between the semis and the championship/consolation.
Gonzaga, Minnesota and Georgia understandably balked at the idea. It wasn’t an issue for St. John’s as it basically amounted to four home games.
“The NIT told us last week, ‘You’re right, we’ll get this fixed,’ ” Roth said. “It’s a week later now and it’s not fixed yet so I’m starting to get a little more concerned.”
A potential compromise is one home game for host schools and two at MSG (semifinals and championship/consolation).
“Ultimately that’s better than what they’re proposing,” Roth said. It’s less than ideal because “we’ve worked the rest of our schedule around having two home games.”
The Zags could walk away from the NIT, Roth said, “but in the third week of July trying to find some games to fill in is nearly impossible.”
Gonzaga is still trying to finalize an opponent for the annual Battle in Seattle.
“Every time we think we have it done something falls through,” Roth said. “Right now we want to focus on the NIT being fixed and then we’ll come up with the Battle in Seattle.”
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