Fox Sports, AEG to host postseason basketball tournament that will rival NIT

WEST LAFAYETTE, IN - MARCH 02: The B1G Logo on display during a mens college basketball game between the Michigan State Spartans and the Purdue Boilermakers on March 02, 2024 at Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, IN. (Photo by Jeffrey Brown/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
The Big Ten is among the conferences with automatic bids to a new postseason basketball tournament being launched by Fox and AEG. (Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

A new, 16-team tournament is coming to the postseason college basketball calendar in 2025, with major conference partnerships, backing from Fox Sports and AEG and its sights set on being the top alternative to the NCAA tournament and NIT.

The College Basketball Crown will unfold over a week in Las Vegas next April, featuring two automatic qualifiers apiece from the Big Ten, Big 12 and Big East that didn't earn NCAA tournament bids, as well as 10 additional at-large teams selected by a committee. All games will be broadcast on either Fox or FS1.

Big East Commissioner Val Ackerman called the tournament “an exciting and innovative addition to the college basketball calendar.”

“We’re confident that the formidable capabilities of Fox Sports, AEG and their event partners will translate into a high-quality postseason opportunity for our coaches, players and schools,” she said.

The Big East protested how many of its teams were excluded from the NCAA tournament. St. John's coach Rick Pitino opted not to participate in the NIT after the program didn't make the NCAA field, instead focusing on recruiting next season's roster.

What the new tournament’s arrival means for the other March Madness alternatives remains to be seen. Dan Gavitt, the NCAA’s senior vice president of basketball, told ESPN in November that “the viability” of the National Invitation Tournament — which is run by the NCAA and has been ongoing since 1938 — could be “in jeopardy.”

Now another consolation tournament is joining the fray, with big-time support behind it.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.