The 2013 National Invitation Tournament is in full swing. Only 12 teams remain alive for the championship, which will be awarded at Madison Square Garden on April 4.
Top seed Kentucky has already gone down, losing in the first round at Robert Morris on Tuesday, but a number of popular contenders are still alive, including Alabama and Virginia. Both teams will be at home this weekend in search of wins that will send them to the quarterfinals.
With a pair of second-round NIT clashes on this weekend's slate, it's time we make our predictions.
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Trevor Releford and Crimson Tide Will Roll Past Stanford
When: Saturday, March 23 at 12 p.m. ET
No. 1 seed Alabama and fourth-seeded Stanford will go head-to-head on Saturday afternoon in Tuscaloosa. The Crimson Tide are favored by only four points in this matchup according to Covers.com, but I like them to cover with ease at home this weekend.
Alabama's junior guard Trevor Releford is one of the best players in all of college basketball, and his ability to knock down a high percentage of shots (48% FG and 42% 3PT) leads me to believe he and the Tide will roll right over a Cardinal team that only edged Stephen F. Austin by a point at home on Tuesday.
Plus, Stanford has dropped five of its last nine games overall and isn't playing with the same level of intensity that Alabama is this March.
While the Cardinal are lucky to be playing in the NIT's second round this weekend following their narrow escape of the Lumberjacks, Alabama has looked like a determined team since losing in the SEC Tournament. The Tide held Northeastern to just 43 points on Tuesday and won by 19 points on their home floor to send a message to the rest of the tournament field.
Expect another big-time performance from Releford at home on Saturday, as he looks to lead the Crimson Tide into a quarterfinal showdown with Maryland.
Cavaliers Will Outlast Red Storm in Charlottesville
When: Sunday, March 24 at 11 a.m. ET
One week after being excluded from the 2013 NCAA Tournament on Selection Sunday, the Virginia Cavaliers will continue their NIT run on their home floor in a matchup with fifth-seeded St. John's.
The Red Storm survived a first-round game against Saint Joseph's, winning by two points in Philadelphia, but will need a much better performance on Sunday in order to advance to the NIT quarterfinals by way of Charlottesville.
Virginia has been a tough team to beat inside John Paul Jones Arena this season, dropping just one game there all year long—a six-point non-conference loss to Delaware in mid-November. Since then, the Cavaliers have won 18 straight at home, knocking off North Carolina, NC State and Duke over that time.
In addition to boasting a major home-court advantage, Virginia features one of the ACC's top players in junior guard Joe Harris, who is averaging 16.7 points per game this season.
Harris is a 47-percent shooter from the field and an impressive 43-percent shooter from beyond the arc. Look for No. 12 to deliver on Sunday afternoon as he and the Cavs look to extend their home winning streak and move one step closer to Madison Square Garden.
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