Tuesday NIT Notes
JIM HURLEY'S HANDICAPPING NOTEBOOK
NIT FULL OF SURPRISES
ON ROAD TO FINAL FOUR
It's become a tradition to see Dick Vitale shed tears on selection Sunday because of an ACC program that was getting disrespected by the selection committee...only to then see that team go out and play even worse than skeptics had expected.
This year's example is Virginia Tech. Coach Seth Greenburg is popular with the media because of his quote-ability and passion for the game. He's not popular with the NCAA selection committee because his teams aren't very good. The NIT committee fell for the media hype, made Virginia Tech a #1 seed, then watched them fall in the second round to Wichita State.
Boston College...another #1 seed in the NIT from the ACC...also lost at home in the second round. They were stunningly blown out early Saturday by Northwestern.
A pair of #2 seeds failed to last the weekend as well. St. Mary's fell in the first round to Kent State. Cleveland State fell in the second round to College of Charleston.
Who knew Cinderella would be wearing so many slippers this year?!
We're devoting Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday of this week to NIT coverage, as we get you caught up in an event that looks like it's going to be very dramatic and entertaining over the next week and a half. We'll preview the only Tuesday game for you momentarily, then run the boxscore numbers from the past weekend from teams who are still in action. Wednesday will run more previews as the brackets continue, and crunch the boxscore numbers from Monday Night's tripleheader. You can click here and get on board with us to win the next two nights.
Thursday and Friday, it's back to the Big Dance for expanded previews of the Sweet 16 games. We hope you're with us EVERY DAY in the NOTEBOOK so you know what's REALLY happening in the tournaments.
The first of four quarterfinal games still to go will be played tonight when Kent State (off two road upsets!) visits Colorado. There was OUTRAGE when the Buffaloes weren't invited to the NCAA Tournament. They're still playing, while Texas, Kansas State, Texas A&M, and Missouri of the Big 12 are home watching games on TV like you and us.
KENT STATE (7) AT COLORADO (1)
Kent St.: +5.5 margin average, 47% two-point defense
Colorado: -0.4 margin average, 48% two-point defense
Conference Adjustment: Colorado 12 points
Vegas Line: Colorado by 9
Notebook: Remember to add in about 3-4 points for home court advantage in the NIT until we get to the Final Four in New York. Colorado deserves four here, and possibly more because they're playing at altitude against an opponent that's playing its third straight road game....with one in California and the other in Connecticut. Talk about jet lag! The math shows Colorado being six points better on a neutral court. But, Kent is playing better than that +5.5 mark would suggest here in the NIT. We're basically on the number all things considered. Your selection here will probably be based on whether or not you think Kent State will run out of gas. If they show up, this line is too high. If the gas tank is about to hit empty, a double digit win will send Colorado to Madison Square Garden.
Kent St.: 68.0 possessions per game
Colorado: 68.3 possessions per game
Most of the stats you'll be reading today come from Ken Pomeroy's great college basketball website (kenpom.com). Pomeroy adjusts possession data to reflect competition. Both of these teams play faster than average (which is around 66). Colorado definitely wants a fast pace because it will wear down a tired team at altitude. Kent State might be better served by calming things down. That would take them out of their comfort zone though. Brutal schedule for Kent State. The selection committee was sure Colorado State was going to be playing St. Mary's for the right to face Colorado. Instead, it was Kent State and Fairfield.
Kent St.: 23.6% of points on treys
Colorado: 23.1% of points on treys
Both of these teams emphasize the inside game. We generally like that. But, you obviously saw a lot of Big Dance teams advance this past weekend by shooting lights out from long range. Can they keep that going? We'll know this weekend. Whoever wins tonight will bring an aggressive game that emphasizes attacking the basket to New York.
JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK won't make a call in this one until we get a read from our sources on the mental and physical fatigue for Kent State. Let's take a look at the key numbers from the games these two teams played to get here...
KENT STATE 72, FAIRFIELD 68
Shooting Percentage: Kent State 50%, Fairfield 45%
Three-Pointers: Kent State 8/19, Fairfield 7/26
Free Throws: Kent State 4/5, Fairfield 7/13
Rebounds: Kent State 28, Fairfield 31
Turnovers: Kent State 9, Fairfield 12
Phantom Score: Kent State 72, Fairfield 71
Vegas Line: Fairfield by 5.5, total of 130.5
Notebook: Very close game involving feisty mid majors who didn't want their seasons to end. Turnovers ended up being the difference. Kent deserves a lot of credit for shooting 50% from the field while committing just nine turnovers at a tough site (by mid major standards). Phantom Score was very close to the actual score...and showed the right team winning and covering.
COLORADO 89, CALIFORNIA 72
Shooting Percentage: California 43%, Colorado 46%
Three-Pointers: California 8/18, Colorado 9/20
Free Throws: California 18/24, Colorado 18/27
Rebounds: California 32, Colorado 39
Turnovers: California 13, Colorado 5
Phantom Score: California 62, Colorado 83
Vegas Line: Colorado by 6, total of 156
Notebook: It's been several days since this game was played. Colorado is enjoying the perks of being a #1 seed for sure. We're not ready to go to war about whether or not they should have been in the Dance. Borderline teams are rarely important outside of playing spoiler in the Dance. Colorado could have been a first round loser, or Virginia Commonwealth. They were definitely the better side in this game by a good bit. Phantom Score was an even bigger blowout. Colorado only lost the ball five times, won the boards, and worked for good shots all evening. They're a legitimate #1 seed in the NIT based on the numbers so far. They seem to be a legitimate threat to win the whole thing. Will they be able to thrive at sea level the way they did at altitude?
Also in the NIT this past weekend:
WICHITA STATE 79, VIRGINIA TECH 76 (in overtime)
Shooting Percentage: Wichita State 49%, Virginia Tech 42%
Three-Pointers: Wichita State 10/20, Virginia Tech 8/18
Free Throws: Wichita State 7/12, Virginia Tech 26/34
Rebounds: Wichita State 34, Virginia Tech 27
Turnovers: Wichita State 14, Virginia Tech 13
Phantom Score: Wichita State 76, Virginia Tech 53
Vegas Line: Virginia Tech by 5.5, total of 131
Notebook: Virginia Tech got squashed in Phantom Score, which is awful for a #1 seed playing at home. They did attack the basket well though. Some of that +19 in made free throws and +22 in attempts was probably some home cooking...or NIT power broker stuff trying to get an ACC team into the Final Four. But, Tech was aggressive, so we won't try to start any conspiracy rumors. Wichita State was able to win the game despite the big free throw disadvantage thanks to 50% on treys and great rebounding. The #4 seed will get to host #6 College of Charleston for a spot in New York. That's at least one non-marquee team reaching the Final Four.
NORTWESTERN 85, BOSTON COLLEGE 67
Shooting Percentage: Northwestern 55%, Boston College 52%
Three-Pointers: Northwestern 15/36, Boston College 5/15
Free Throws: Northwestern 2/3, Boston College 14/19
Rebounds: Northwestern 27, Boston College 18
Turnovers: Northwestern 8, Boston College 11
Phantom Score: Northwestern 65, Boston College 56
Vegas Line: Boston College by 4.5, total of 140.5
Notebook: This was a very early tip on Saturday. Figures that the kids with the 8 a.m. Chemistry classes had no trouble showing up and playing hard. Northwestern won Phantom Score handily, but pulled away even further because of a big game from long range. There were a lot of big three-point games over the weekend. It can be fun to watch...but it's a randomizer that creates migraines for handicappers. You just never know when a team is going to pop 12-15 or so bombs and put a game out of reach. Big edge on the boards for the Wildcats, and only 8 turnovers on the road. Stunningly bad results for the two ACC top seeds.
COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON 64, CLEVELAND STATE 56
Shooting Percentage: Charleston 46%, Cleveland State 33%
Three-Pointers: Charleston 7/19, Cleveland State 1/25
Free Throws: Charleston 15/16, Cleveland State 9/11
Rebounds: Charleston 33, Cleveland State 34
Turnovers: Charleston 15, Cleveland State 6
Phantom Score: Charleston 61, Cleveland State 78
Vegas Line: Cleveland State by 4, total of 146
Notebook: Here's the opposite of having a big day from long range. Cleveland State was an inexplicable 1 of 25 on treys! PLAYING ON THEIR HOME FLOOR! If they go 4 of 25 they win the game. Note how one-sided Phantom Scoring was for the hosts. Look at turnovers! This would have been a Cleveland State rout if not for the stunning clank percentage on bombs. Charleston has to be happy with the win. They'd better realize that Wichita State is going to play a lot better than Cleveland State did.
Back tomorrow with more notes on the NIT. Our tournament coverage continues through the weekend and on most days next week. The NBA is coming down the stretch with about a dozen games left for everyone. Major League Baseball is about to join the Las Vegas betting frenzy too with opening day just around the corner. To enjoy BIG JUICY WINNERS in all sports, sign up with JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK at 1-800-323-4453. Game day releases can be purchased online with your credit card a few hours before first tip. Seasonal packages are also available here at the website.
As we work our way to the NCAA and NIT championships...be sure you're with WORLD CHAMPION HANDICAPPER JIM HURLEY every step of the way!
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