The CBI (College Basketball Invitational), on the other hand, doesn't invite a lot of teams with losing records, but it's certainly not unusual. In fact, Washington State finished 15-16 last season and then was invited to the CBI and came within a game of winning it. The CBI invites 16 teams, plays three rounds in order to determine the finalists and then those teams play a best-of-three series.
Pitt, which went to the CBI with a 17-16 record last year, won the title by beating Washington State twice in Pittsburgh after losing the first game in Washington.
As far as West Virginia being invited to either the NIT or the CBI, well, that's going to depend on the team's finish. The Mountaineers have lost to every one of the five teams remaining on the regular-season schedule, so an 0-5 finish and a 13-18 record heading into the Big 12 tournament is certainly possible. In that case, this is all a waste of discussion.
The thought here, though, is that West Virginia might - might - win enough to make the discussion pertinent. Three of the final five games are at home (Oklahoma State, Baylor and Iowa State), along with road games at Kansas and Oklahoma.
There's also a good chance the Mountaineers will remain where they have been most of the season in the Big 12 standings (the bottom four), so barring a late run they will play one of the two Wednesday games in the Big 12 tournament, which pit No. 7 against No. 10 and No. 8 against No. 9. They are 6-0 against those other teams this season, so winning that one prior to facing the No. 1 or 2 seed on Thursday is a good possibility.
The bottom line is that in those final five games and the tournament WVU probably needs to go 4-3 and make it to 17-16 to even be on the NIT's radar. A 3-4 finish might be needed to have a chance to play in the CBI.
West Virginia would certainly accept an NIT bid, and probably would agree to play in the CBI, too, although that's not a given. Deputy athletic director Mike Parsons said Wednesday that, quite frankly, the discussions hadn't reached that stage yet. But the CBI knows not to strike them from the list.
The CBI, of course, is a pay-to-play deal. Teams that host first-round games are required to shell out $35,000 and the fee goes up in subsequent rounds, doubling by the finals. But home teams also make money from the gate (as well as concessions and parking), so it's still a moneymaker unless absolutely no one shows up. The problem is going on the road to play. Then the losses could mount, but that's no different than going on the road during the season.
So there's your NIT-CBI primer. You may not want it - Huggins certainly doesn't - but at least now you know.
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.