NIT Second Round Preview
by Phil Kasiecki
The second round games start Monday night with two matchups, Butler at Syracuse and Minnesota at Richmond. The former is the more intriguing matchup, though Butler could come away with the win easily if they play as they did Thursday night. They shot the ball very well from the floor, got to the foul line, and turned the ball over just six times. Syracuse has been inconsistent offensively and Butler can match up with the Orangemen, even at the Carrier Dome where the Orangemen have been far from automatic lately.
Tuesday night, Temple heads to Louisville for a good matchup of contrasting styles: Louisville wants to play up-tempo, while the Owls want to slow the game down, especially since Louisville is not the best team at executing in the halfcourt. The team that controls the tempo is likely to take this one, unless Temple has a poor shooting night and can’t get Lynn Greer some help offensively.
Tennessee Tech heads to Yale in what should be a good matchup. In many statistical categories, it’s a draw, including the Golden Eagles being a good road team this season. The Eagles shoot the ball at a 48% clip, so defense will be important for Yale, as well as running a ball-control offense to precision. The post matchup of Damien Kinloch and Paul Vitelli could be a good one.
Fresh off a big second half against St. Joseph’s, Ball State heads to LSU, a team which they compare favorably to in most statistical categories. If they shoot like they did on Friday, especially from long range, they should knock off LSU. They match up well with the Tigers, but LSU has protected their home floor well this season and the Cardinals have not been a stellar road team. The Cardinals are a much better free throw shooting team as well, so if this game is to be decided at the line (as their opener against South Florida was), they have an edge there.
UNLV heads to South Carolina for what looks to be UNLV’s offense against South Carolina’s defense. The Runnin’ Rebels have the edge in most offensive categories, but the Gamecocks are 16th in the nation in scoring defense. South Carolina can match up with UNLV physically, so this should be a good game. UNLV would have an edge if it becomes a running game.
Memphis should have a relatively easy time with BYU. The Cougars have won just once all season away from home, and Memphis is a much better scoring and rebounding team.
Louisiana Tech heads to Villanova in what has the makings of a good matchup. Louisiana Tech has been a good road team, and one never knows which Villanova team will show up on a given night. The Wildcats shoot the ball better, especially from long range, but their guards are very turnover-prone, so backcourt play could be the key. Antonio Meeking has been solid on the post so far in the NIT, and how he does against Ricky Wright and Brooks Sales will be important as well.