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Monday NIT Action

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The Sweet 16 is set in the NCAA Tournament, but the NIT is reclaiming the spotlight tonight with three games with its Final Four starting next week at Madison Square Garden. The top-seed in the Kentucky regional is no longer playing as the Wildcats were bounced by Robert Morris last week. It was an upset to a certain extent, but Robert Morris received a huge break by playing the game at home in Pittsburgh due to Rupp Arena being unavailable as it was used for the NCAA Tournament.

Robert Morris at Providence (-8 ½) - 7:00 PM EST

The Colonials will look to bottle up all the momentum from last Tuesday's 59-57 upset of Kentucky as 3 ½-point home underdogs as Robert Morris makes the short trip to Providence. RMU allowed 52% shooting from the floor to Kentucky, while pulling down just 17 rebounds in the win.

Providence rallied past Charlotte in its NIT opener, 75-66, while pushing as nine-point home favorites. The Friars outscored the 49ers, 42-30 in the second half, as the game barely went 'over' the total of 139 ½. PC's starting five scored 73 of the 75 points, while Bryce Cotton led the Friars with 25 points for the fifth straight win at the Dunkin Donuts Center.

Robert Morris has very little to show from a pointspread standpoint due to the Northeast Conference rarely being listed on the board. The Colonials are 4-2 ATS in six lined games, while posting a 1-1 ATS mark as an underdog that includes an early-season loss at Lehigh. RMU lost close calls at Arkansas and Xavier earlier this season, while picking up a solid home win over Ohio on December 1.

The Friars owned a 5-3-1 ATS record as a home favorite this season, but that also includes an outright loss to DePaul early in Big East play. However, Ed Cooley's club has won eight of 11 games down the stretch since a three-game skid to close January.

Mercer at BYU (-7 ½) - 9:00 PM EST

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Probably the biggest upset in the first round of the NIT came in Knoxville, as Mercer won at Tennessee, 75-67 to cash outright as eight-point road underdogs. The Bears hail from the same conference as Florida Gulf Coast (Atlantic Sun), as Mercer knocked down 50% of its shots from the floor to shock the Volunteers, while leading from start to finish. Now, Mercer travels to Provo for a tough matchup with BYU.

The Cougars chased out Washington in the opening round of the NIT, 90-79 to cash as six-point favorites. BYU blistered Washington's defense with 57 points in the second half, while Tyler Haws put up a game-high 37 points for the Cougars. The victory snapped a six-game ATS skid in the favorite role, while improving to 4-8 ATS the last 12 opportunities when laying points.

The Bears have played seven lined contests the whole season, but have posted a 2-4-1 ATS record. Mercer has eclipsed the 72-point mark in five consecutive games, while hitting the 'over' in three straight contests, including the win at Tennessee. This team is not afraid to go into big-time schools and cause trouble, as Mercer has picked up victories at Alabama and Florida State this season.

Louisiana Tech at Southern Mississippi (-8) - 10:00 PM EST

These two teams met earlier this season in Rustin, as Louisiana Tech silenced Southern Miss, 65-55. The Bulldogs cashed as four-point favorites in spite of shooting just 39% from the floor, but they limited the Golden Eagles to 33% shooting. Southern Miss was squeezed from the NCAA Tournament when it fell to Memphis in double-overtime of the Conference USA title, as the Eagles go for their second consecutive win in the NIT.

Donnie Tyndall's club held off Charleston Southern, 78-71, but failed to cover as 11 ½-point home 'chalk' last Wednesday. Southern Miss torched Charleston from the field by drilling 56% of their shots, while hitting 10 three-pointers. The Golden Eagles have now finished 'over' the total in seven of the last eight games, while scoring at least 78 points six times in this stretch.

Louisiana Tech snapped a three-game skid by knocking off Florida State in Tallahassee, 71-66 as three-point underdogs. The Bulldogs grabbed a share of the WAC regular season title with Denver, but Tech was upset in the opening round of the conference title against Texas-San Antonio, dashing any chances of a bid to the Big Dance. Tech put together a 2-3 ATS record as a road underdog this season, but went 11-5 straight-up away from Rustin.

You can reach Kevin Rogers via e-mail at rogers@vegasinsider.com

Kevin Rogers can be followed on Twitter at virogers.

  
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