Wednesday's NIT Action
March 26, 2013
By Kevin Rogers
The Sweet 16 is right around the corner in the NCAA Tournament, but the NIT is down to its Elite Eight with three games to determine who will move on to Madison Square Garden next Tuesday night. Seven of the eight teams in this round are third seeds or higher with the lowest seed being Providence (4). The premiere contest takes place in Charlottesville with a late-season ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
Iowa at Virginia - 7:30 PM EST
The Cavaliers own a perfect 20-0 record at home, as UVA will play its final game at John Paul Jones Arena this season with a potential trip to New York for the NIT Final Four on the line. Iowa invades Charlottesville with an eight-game ATS win streak, while six of its last seven victories have come by double-digits. The Hawkeyes advanced to this round of the NIT following solid home triumphs over Indiana State (68-52) and Stony Brook (75-63).
Virginia's bubble burst for an NCAA Tournament bid by losing late-season contests to Florida State, Boston College, and N.C. State. However, Tony Bennett's team is making the most of its NIT appearance with home wins over Norfolk State (67-56) and St. John's (68-50), but the Cavs only covered in the victory over the Red Storm as 10 ½-point favorites. The cover snapped a five-game ATS skid for Virginia, who has compiled a 14-3-1 ATS record at home this season.
The Hawkeyes are the best ATS team in the nation (22-9), in spite of winning just two of 10 true road games this season. Iowa closed the season cashing five of its last six opportunities when receiving points away from home, but Fran McCaffery's club lost all six times to Michigan State, Indiana, Michigan, Purdue, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. In November's ACC/Big Ten Challenge, Iowa traveled to Virginia Tech and was trounced by the Hokies, 95-79 as two-point underdogs.
BYU at Southern Mississippi - 8:00 PM EST
Two underrated teams from mid-major conferences hook up in Hattiesburg as the Cougars travel to the Gulf Coast off home blowouts of Washington (90-79) and Mercer (90-71). BYU cashed each time in the favorite role, while obliterating the 'over' (148 vs. Washington and 144 vs. Mercer) in both victories. Southern Miss held off Louisiana Tech's late rally in a 63-52 home win on Monday to cash as six-point favorites, avenging an earlier road loss to the Bulldogs in December.
The Golden Eagles have won five of six overall with the lone defeat coming in double overtime to Memphis in the Conference USA tournament final. The 'under' in Monday's triumph over Louisiana Tech snapped a four-game streak to the 'over,' while Donnie Tyndall's team is now 10-3 to the 'over' the previous 13 contests. Southern Miss owns a mediocre 6-7 ATS record as a favorite of 6 ½ points or less this season, but the Golden Eagles have won each of their last three games in this pointspread spot by double-digits.
BYU is playing only its third true road game since February 8, as the Cougars are 2-4 ATS this season away from Provo. The Cougars won just once in six tries in this role, coming at Santa Clara on January 12 as two-point 'dogs in an 82-64 victory. The last 10 games have not been kind to BYU backers with a 3-6-1 ATS record, but all six ATS defeats came as favorites of eight points or more.
Providence at Baylor - 9:00 PM EST
The Bears try to salvage their season by looking for their first appearance in the NIT Final Four since losing in the championship to Penn State in 2009. Baylor's offense has gone nuts in two NIT blowouts over Long Beach State (112-66) and Arizona State (89-86), but the Bears failed to cover as 8 ½-point favorites against the Sun Devils on Friday night.
Providence used a late run to eliminate upstart Robert Morris on Monday, 77-68 as 7 ½-point 'chalk.' The Friars closed the season winning six straight games at the Dunkin Donuts Center, while posting a 5-4 ATS record as a road underdog. Ed Cooley's team has put together a 1-4 SU/ATS mark on the highway following a home victory, which includes recent setbacks at Connecticut and Syracuse.
Baylor has covered just once in its last four opportunities as a home favorite, while going 8-3 to the 'over' in the previous 11 games overall. Scott Drew's club has eclipsed the 80-point mark in five of the last six contests played in Waco, as the Bears put up a 60-spot in the second half of Friday's win against Arizona State. Since 2010, Baylor owns an impressive 11-1 ledger to the 'over' in postseason games (including conference tournaments).
You can reach Kevin Rogers via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Kevin Rogers can be followed on Twitter at virogers.
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