2006 NIT Season Tip-Off
The 2006 NIT Season Tip-Off was won by the Butler Bulldogs of the Horizon League. Butler defeated in-state rivals University of Notre Dame and Indiana University, both on a neutral court, to win the Midwest Regional bracket and earn a trip to Madison Square Garden for the finals against the other three regional winners: the #2 North Carolina Tar Heels, #21 Tennessee Volunteers, and the #23 Gonzaga Bulldogs.
Butler was 4-0 entering the finals in New York City and the only team in the final round not ranked in either Top 25 poll. They became just the third ever so-called "mid-major" to win the event in its 22 year history (the others being UNLV and Ohio), and would be ranked #18 in the next Coaches Top 25 Poll and #19 in the next AP Poll. The last time the Bulldogs were ranked was at #21 in the final 2003 ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll, after reaching the 2003 Sweet Sixteen. The Bulldogs last AP poll ranking was for three weeks in 2001-02 regular season, reaching as high as 20th (the final AP poll is prior to the NCAA Tournament every year).