The 2013 NIT Postseason Championship has already seen one No. 1 seed get toppled, and the other three will be looking to survive as long as possible.
No. 8 Robert Morris shocked No. 1 Kentucky with a 59-57 victory in the first round, leaving Alabama, Virginia and Southern Mississippi as the remaining top seeds.
With the Wildcats' fall from grace now complete, these three teams will be desperately trying to avoid the same fate.
Here are my predictions for how each No. 1 seed will fare the rest of the way in the NIT.
Note: statistics courtesy of KenPom.com.
The Crimson Tide opened up the competition with a convincing 19-point victory over Northeastern, but now the tests become tougher as the team will have to face Stanford.
Alabama ranks 27th in the nation in defensive efficiency and the team’s stout play on this end of the floor is the reason that it is currently topping Region 3.
Against Stanford, the Tide’s defense will continue to hold up against a marginally talented Cardinal team. But after that, a potential matchup with Maryland looms.
The Terps have a star in center Alex Len and the confidence from a win over Duke in the ACC tournament. Maryland offers a test that Alabama will not be able to pass.
Prediction: Loses to Maryland in quarterfinals
The Golden Eagles have the best offense among the remaining No. 1 seeds.
Dwayne Davis leads the team’s attack, and he is an exceptionally efficient shooter. He averages 16.4 points per game on 49.7 percent shooting from the field and 43.8 percent from three-point range.
If he continues to shoot at such a high level, and the rest of his teammates help him out, Southern Mississippi has a chance to make a deep run in this tournament.
However, a quarterfinal matchup with BYU looms, and the Golden Eagles’ problems rebounding the ball may come back to haunt them against Brandon Davies and the Cougars. If these two teams end up meeting, this is not a favorable matchup for Southern Miss.
Prediction: Loses to BYU in quarterfinals
Which No. 1 seed will fare best during the rest of the NIT?
The Cavaliers have two components that indicate they are ready to win this tournament: a star scorer and a tough defense.
Virginia ranks 18th in the nation in defensive efficiency and relies on Joe Harris for much of its offense. The junior guard averages nearly 17 points per game and is the only player to consistently score for the Cavs.
After an 11-point victory over Norfolk State to kick off the tournament, the Cavaliers now face a tough matchup against St. John’s. But another productive night from Harris will push the team past the Red Storm.
As long as the Cavaliers continue to play well on defense and feed Harris, they should get further than the other No. 1 seeds.
Prediction: Loses to Maryland in semifinals