Wednesday NIT Previews
WEDNESDAY PREVIEWS IN THE NIT'S LAST TWO ELITE EIGHT SHOWDOWNS
Just when you start to think the Cinderella stories are done for the year, feisty Middle Tennessee scores the last 15 points of the game to upset NIT Final Four favorite Tennessee in Knoxville! The Blue Raiders are now one home game away from representing the Sun Belt conference in Madison Square Garden next week!
Middle Tennessee's shocker was one of the highlights of a busy Monday in NIT action. Those winners are back on the floor TONIGHT in Elite Eight action. As promised, we're here to provide stat previews for those two games...and to review the key stats from the second round matchups that launched the survivors into this midweek doubleheader.
The fun starts smack dab in the middle of Tennessee!
MINNESOTA (6) AT MIDDLE TENNESSEE (4)
Minnesota: 37 in Sagarin, 36 in Pomeroy, 48 on offense, 50 on defense
M. Tennessee: 44 in Sagarin, 56 in Pomeroy, 82 on offense, 43 on defense
Vegas Line: Middle Tennessee by 3, total of 134
Both teams made big leaps in Sagarin with impressive Monday Night road victories. You'll see the details of those in a moment. Minnesota has the higher overall rating coming in. But, Middle Tennessee grades out better on defense (remember that Pomeroy adjusts for tempo and quality of opponent when tabulating his efficiency numbers). And, they certainly won't be dealing with the same kind of jet lag that Minnesota has been put through:
Minnesota: at LaSalle (Philadelphia), at Miami-Florida, at Middle Tennessee
M. Tennessee: home, at Tennessee, home
Maybe the Gophers have the ability to deal with this. That's something you do-it-yourselfers will need to study. JIM HURLEY will be working with his Big Ten sources to find out what he can about that. Needless to say, those Big Ten sources and many others were impressed with what the Gophers managed Monday Night in Miami...
MINNESOTA 78, MIAMI-FLORIDA 60
Field Goal Pct: Minnesota 58%, Miami 34%
Three-Pointers: Minnesota 6/13, Miami 4/25
Free Throws: Minnesota 16/19, Miami 14/22
Rebounds: Minnesota 37, Miami 19
Turnovers: Minnesota 18, Miami 8
Phantom Score: Minnesota 81, Miami 53
Vegas Line: Miami by 5.5, total of 130.5
For you newcomers, Phantom Score is a secondary score we invented many years ago. It's simply two-point scoring plus rebounding. We've found that it provides important additional context in every game, and that it has good predictive value as a general rule for future results. You can see here that it was a SLAUGHTER for Minnesota...even more one-sided than what the scoreboard was suggesting. Minnesota owned the boards, and completely shut down Miami's offense. Turnovers were a problem...which is why the scoreboard was closer than the Phantom Score! Great performance for a road team. Miami's upset of Duke this year lost a lot of luster when Lehigh did the same thing. Now, Miami looks even worse.
MIDDLE TENNESSEE 71, TENNESSEE 64
Field Goal Pct: M. Tennessee 46%, Tennessee 38%
Three-Pointers: M. Tennessee 3/11, Tennessee 1/13
Free Throws: M. Tennessee 20/28, Tennessee 19/30
Rebounds: M. Tennessee 45, Tennessee 29
Turnovers: M. Tennessee 16, Tennessee 9
Phantom Score: M. Tennessee 87, Tennessee 71
Vegas Line: Tennessee by 4, total of 14.5
We have to say we're stunned that Middle Tennessee could come in and own the stats in this fashion. Covering the spread? Sure, they were capable of that. But...outrebounding an SEC team by that much on the road? Owning Phantom Score? We mentioned during the season that Middle Tennessee's computer ratings had them within striking distance of the Big Dance. Well, they struck a team that many thought was one of the hottest in the country coming in. Great to see a mid-major come through in a tournament that's stacked against them in the seeding.
What does all of this mean for Wednesday's game? Both teams will be dealing with issues. Minnesota will be tired. Middle Tennessee may have celebrated a huge win over a state power a bit too much, which puts them in a horrible letdown situation. The boxscores were very similar, as were the stat rankings. So...we expect intangibles to be the deciding factor. We'll let our sources determine our final course.
NEVADA (5) AT STANFORD (3)
Nevada: 94 in Sagarin, 97 in Pomeroy, 112 on offense, 94 on defense
Stanford: 51 in Sagarin, 53 in Pomeroy, 94 on offense, 31 on defense
Vegas Line: Stanford by 6, total of 137.5
Nevada will be stepping up in class after two victories over small college darlings. Nevada had to go to Oral Roberts for their first game in the NIT. That's a team that thought it might sneak into the Dance with an at-large bid. After a road victory, Nevada got a surprise home game against #8 seed Bucknell. The Bison, from Lehigh's conference, took out #1 seed Arizona on the road in the first round.
Stanford's had an easy time of it in terms of its draw. The Cardinal opened at home against Cleveland State. The top of the Horizon League was weak this year, so that win was easy. Round Two saw #7 seed Illinois State come to town after the Redbirds upset Ole Miss. Stanford was a big favorite in that game, but had to go overtime to barely hold on.
QUARTERFINAL ROUND BOXSCORES
NEVADA 75, BUCKNELL 67
Field Goal Pct: Bucknell 40%, Nevada 50%
Three-Pointers: Bucknell 8/25, Nevada 3/10
Free Throws: Bucknell 15/17, Nevada 24/32
Rebounds: Bucknell 27, Nevada 32
Turnovers: Bucknell 16, Nevada 14
Phantom Score: Bucknell 55, Nevada 74
Vegas Line: Nevada by 3.5, total of 133.5
Phantom Score smiles on Nevada more than the final scoreboard does. That's because Bucknell hit enough treys to be able to hang within striking distance all night. You can see that Nevada did a great job of attacking the basket (earning 15 more free throw attempts). It will be interesting to see if the Wolfpack can make that approach work on the road against a BCS conference team. We've seen often in the postseason that winning inside against mid majors doesn't always mean the same approach can work when you step up in class.
STANFORD 92, ILLINOIS STATE 88 (in overtime)
Field Goal Pct: Illinois St. 44%, Stanford 52%
Three-Pointers: Illinois St. 15/30, Stanford 12/20
Free Throws: Illinois St. 19/21, Stanford 12/21
Rebounds: Illinois St. 36, Stanford 30
Turnovers: Illinois St. 17, Stanford 15
Phantom Score: Illinois St. 60, Stanford 74
Vegas Line: Stanford by 9, total of 136
Great game...with both teams shooting ridiculously great from long range. Did they move the three-point line to the free throw line? Stanford was better from behind the arc than they were shooting unguarded free throws! And, 50% for Illinois State on 30 attempts is off the charts. You can see that Illinois State's extra treys help them make up for a substantial deficit in Phantom Score. This is a good sign for Stanford because most opponents they run into won't go 15 of 30 on bombs.
Stanford is the better team. That's no secret. Is the Vegas line giving them too much credit? Or, too little? You can purchase JIM HURLEY'S full Wednesday slate here at the website with your credit card. In addition to the fascinating college matchups, it's a busy day in the NBA. Games of interest for us include:
New York at Philadelphia
LA Clippers at Oklahoma City
LA Lakers at Dallas
And, we may have a VERY big play in one of the other matchups based on our knowledge of which teams aren't exactly going full speed right now because they're more worried about the draft lottery than playing well this year. Team information is always important in the NBA. Over the next month, it's arguably going to be more important than it's ever been!
Game day selections always go up online a few hours before first tip for credit card purchase. If you're ready to sign up for the rest of basketball, call the office at 1-800-323-4453.
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