The College Basketball Invitational.
Those are three words that are almost profane in West Lafayette. Two years ago Purdue played in it to gain experience in the postseason despite having a losing record overall. As IU fans at the time pointed out, we couldn't even make the Final Four there, as it is the third tier tournament below even the NIT. It is basically a pay-to-play tournament for the 16 participants, as even the still lower CIT at least has the decency to limit itself to deserving low- and mid-major programs that don't get into the NCAAs, get pushed out of the NIT because it is important to get .500 major conference programs, but still had a good season.
The CBI, however, is different. You can buy home games and its unique best-of-three championship series sets it apart. As I said two year ago, if we were going to accept a bid we had better at least win the thing. We didn't, thus making it even more embarrassing when Santa Clara knocked us out on our own floor.
Fortunately, we're beyond the CBI this year (though last year could have produced an epic three-game series with Indiana had the Hoosiers agreed to play in it). It has still been contested since 2008 with following champions:
2009: Oregon State
2010: Virginia Commonwealth
2013: Santa Clara
Some teams do use it as a springboard, as VCU went from CBI champ to Final Four. In 2013 it was Santa Clara that put us out on their way to the title, and Siena, last year's champion, had the honor of losing to Purdue twice.
Since Purdue is headed to the NIT at worst we can avoid it, but what Big Ten teams might want to spend a few Rotel dollars for another home game or two?
Penn State - The Nittany Lions shelled a few bucks out last season to play in the CBI. They did pretty much as well as Purdue did, beating Hampton before losing at eventual champion Siena. Their solid non-conference record means Penn State will be close to .500 overall, and D.J. Newbill deserves to play somewhere in March.
Northwestern - Would the Wildcats be interested in building for the future with a few more games? They were pretty hot until getting drilled at Illinois on Saturday. They have been feisty enough to be a dark horse team in 2015-16, so why not build on it with some postseason play?
Michigan - The Wolverines have scrapped and clawed to .500 overall despite a number of injuries, so they might get an NIT bid. If enough regular season champs in the smaller conferences get knocked off, however, the Wolverines could gain some postseason experience with some paid for home games.
In truth, no Big Ten team should ever (again) lower itself to playing in the CBI. It is not worth it. We're the Big Ten. If you're playing in this thing you had better win it. Otherwise, you're a joke.