I should start right at the top: the Vegas 16 tournament, which is in its first year, ended up with a field of eight teams. It was supposed to be a 16-team tournament (hence the name!). All eight teams are mid-majors. This is not what they had planned.
Inaugural Vegas 16 bracket & schedule announced pic.twitter.com/v4d0lLCPh6— Vegas 16 (@VegasSixteen) March 14, 2016
It's fair to wonder what is unusual about this whole thing. There are a couple other low-profile postseason tournaments that feature nothing but mid-major programs. On the surface, this is just one more addition to that crowd. Thing is, though, the Vegas 16 organizers' ambitions were a lot higher. A LOT higher.
They have been packaging this tournament as a college basketball "bowl game," as the 16-team tourney was meant to last only five days, rather than drag on like the NIT, CBI, or CIT. And that is an excellent idea.
The Vegas 16 tournament would start much later than all of those events. The implied sell was a selection process that would bring in power conference teams. They announced a selection committee that included George Raveling and (NCSU grad) Debbie Antonelli.
This was supposed to be a big deal. Or at least different. The results proved otherwise. Tournament officials said they were targeting teams with winning records, and power-conference schools like Florida State and Arkansas. And BYU, and probably whichever teams they could coerce.
And again, this is an intriguing idea for a postseason basketball tournament. A short commitment, with good competition, in a location that's an easy sell. But it all fell apart for the Vegas 16 folks over the weekend, as NC State and some other programs took the temperature and decided to skip out on this tournament. Per UNLV student journalist Jeremy Rincon, the "big names the [Vegas 16] was expecting bailed altogether."
Kent State, NC State, Boise State were 3 of them https://t.co/6V1FXuuRyD— Jason Arkley (@JasonAmessenger) March 14, 2016
Reading between the lines on all of this: NC State was interested in the concept, liked the potential of playing in a tournament with some other power-conference teams. The Vegas 16 folks were likely in discussions with several teams that came up short of the NCAAs and/or were in a power-five league. The Vegas 16 folks came close to building a decent 16-team field, but with no assurances, cold feet set in, and it all fell apart.
There was a mass exodus, or a bunch of "thanks but no thanks," if you'd prefer. That is the story of the first (last?) year of the Vegas 16.