When I was a kid the NIT was a big deal. It was, as difficult it may be for 40 somethings and younger to understand, a bigger deal than the NCAA tournament. Teams would accept an NIT bid and would reject an NCAA invitation.
That has changed 180 degrees. Now the NIT is where you go if you were not invited to the big dance. Weakish teams might consider NIT an opportunity, but strong teams who feel disrespected because the NCAA ignored them, think of the NIT as a booby prize. And the games often reflect this.
On Monday night Middle Tennessee State defeated a much stronger Tennessee team that played as if they felt goofy about being seen in the NIT, like a beauty queen hiding in the shadows because she accepted a date with someone not on the A team. Also on Monday Miami, a good team during the year, came out against Minnesota as if they had just been emptying a keg, and could not wait to get back to the suds.
The announcers for these games have often not pulled their punches when discussing how lamely strong teams were performing. This less than full effort reflects how much emotion influences behavior. Rest assured that if Miami was playing in the Sweet Sixteen NCAA games this weekend there would be a different team on the court. The players are not playing for money in either the NIT or the NCAA. If emotion was not the key variable, why would the NCAA teams be playing as if they are at 78 rpm, and the NIT teams at 33.