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What is The College Basketball Invitational and Should Auburn Accept an Invitation if Offered?

By on February 21st, 2017 in Basketball, News 11 Comments »

Bruce Pearl says Auburn has been in a dialog with the College Basketball Invitational committee (photo: USA TODAY Sports)

5138596CBIlogoColor me embarrassed or color me stupid. Either way, when news broke yesterday that Bruce Pearl might consider Auburn’s participation in the College Basketball Invitational Tournament, I have to admit I didn’t know what the CBI was. I certainly know about the once prestigious National Invitational Tournament, which in recent years has been relegated to something akin to a minor bowl game for those teams not good enough to be invited to the NCAA Tourney, a.k.a. “The Big Dance.” But the CBI, what’s that?

A quick look at its web site tells us the tournament started in 2008. Tulsa was the first CBI Champion, and the University of Nevada, Reno defeated Morehead State to win the crown in 2016.

According to the Tourney’s home page, the CBI selects 16 teams that fail to receive an invitation to the major tourney (NCAA) or the minor tourney (NIT). Like the NIT, teams compete on home courts in a single-elimination format. The final two teams play a best-two-out-of-three championship series.

Much like minor bowl invitations, the minimum threshold for an NIT invitation is low. Only a .500 season is required to qualify for selection. So some of the teams the CBI considers are on the .500 bubble, and others are under .500. Sounds prestigious doesn’t it? I’m sorry, I can’t understand the need for a minor—minor  national tournament despite the fact that this year’s championship game will be picked up by ESPNU.

Don’t misunderstand, I’m not trying to be negative. Anyone who has followed this column knows I’ve been accused of being a sunshine pumper. But the idea of a tourney comprised of teams that can’t even qualify for the NIT  just doesn’t have much appeal to this fan.

I’m sure all the arguments used for the plethora of bowl games can be applied here: what does it hurt, the schools get extra practice time, and the players get to play for a trophy. That last one has the ring of the present day little league practice of giving every one a trophy. Used to be that trophies were awarded for superior achievement. Nowadays, if you participate you earn deserve a reward.

Would Auburn accept such an invitation? Bruce Pearl has indicated it’s a strong possibility. “They’ve contacted us,” said Pearl. “And we’re in dialog with them, so yeah … that’s something we would look at.”

While there have been some well known schools to play in the CBI, including Loyola, Oregon, and Texas A&M, others have elected not to accept invitations, including Indiana in 2014.  I support coach Pearl, and I’m glad he’s at Auburn, but if an invite comes to play in the CBI I hope the school will turn the offer down—participation trophies notwithstanding.

Of course it will be a moot point if the Tigers finish strong and make the NIT field.


  1. uglyjoe says:

    I think I disagree with you ATM. A couple of more games, little more practice; this young team needs all it can get. The truth is that the only people who will remember or even probably know in the first place are the Auburn faithful and the tournament opponents.

  2. dabble says:

    sorry – but it is the need to feed the content beast who is never sated. the beast will always win over common sense, decency and fairness. and it does not care about our opinions.

  3. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..I think if I’m the coach, I want my guys playing (and practicing!) as much as possible, especially since most of them are freshmen!

  4. ausouthal says:

    I am one of those from the old school that the coach is the boss and it the coach that makes decisions on what he or she thinks is best for his or her team. The coach has been hired to make decisions and endure the pressures associated with the job. The coach can be replaced but fans can’t. The internet has given the average joe a megaphone and the ability to put that voice out there when sometimes it is not necessary.

  5. JRoweMDN says:

    I see the benefit of additional practice and play and I think that is exactly what this team needs. While winning it all may be akin to a Birmingham Bowl victory, it gives more exposure and I would think helps recruiting if you get kids there to see it. I still think being a winner at anything like this is better than sitting out and doing nothing.

  6. AUwaterboy AUwaterboy says:

    Good read ATM and food for thought and …..

    ….. I agree our society has gotten to the point that people expect to be rewarded regardless if the reward is deserved. BUT in this case I agree with Acid, the young team can only benefit from more practice and more competition.

  7. Zach Taylor Zach Taylor says:

    Maybe it’s the wakeup call these kids need.

  8. jbellison56 says:

    Read where Bama refused an invite in 2009. Just saying not everyone wants to be in the CBI.

  9. tigrrr tigrrr says:

    Yes, go to a tounement if invited. You will have earned it. Don’t be like bAmas. Who knows what recruit might fall in love with this team?

  10. DVSWDE DVSWDE says:

    This is no different than a Bowl trip to Shreveport. There are 347 D1 teams who are vying for a spot in the the 68 team NCAA tournament. There are only 128 football teams trying to make it to a bowl, 80 available slots. It is about the student athlete and his or her experience, not we the fans. Additional tournaments are needed for teams like Auburn this year. This team needs more game time, 2 or 3 more games would be huge for Pearl. Also the exposure, can only help recruiting.

    • DVSWDE DVSWDE says:

      Only 19% of D1 basketball teams make the 68 team tournament, 19%. 62% of D1 football teams make a bowl.