With the first round complete, the action is beginning to heat up in the 2013 NIT tournament.
No. 2 seed Maryland knocked off No. 3 seed Denver on Thursday in the second round, 62-52.
The Terrapins shot 46 percent from the floor, went 15-of-19 from the free-throw line and forced 14 turnovers in the victory.
It wasn't easy, though. The Pioneers were up, 48-39, with 9:15 remaining before Maryland exploded, going on a 23-4 run to close the game emphatically. Leading scorer Dez Wells scored nine points during the run.
Maryland will play the winner of Alabama and Stanford in the quarterfinals.
No. 3 seed Arizona State will face off with No. 2 seeded Baylor on Friday in Region 1 play. Arizona State is coming off a 83-68 victory over No. 6 seed Detroit, while Baylor thumped Long Beach State in the first round, 112-66.
The Sun Devils may have a tough time on the glass against the Bears. They ranked 166th in the nation in rebounding rate this season, via TeamRankings.com.
And while the Bears ranked 82nd in field-goal percentage this season, they ranked 29th in offensive efficiency—part of the reason is because they ranked 55th in offensive rebounding rate.
No. 7 seed Stony Brook will battle No. 3 seed Iowa in Region 4 play on Friday. Stony Brook upset No. 2 seed UMass in the first round, 71-58, while Iowa took care of Indiana State, 68-52.
While Stony Brook was out-rebounded by UMass, the Seawolves were largely able to emerge victorious because they shot 52 percent from the floor while forcing 19 turnovers. On other other hand, the Seawolves weren't a great shooting team in the regular season, nor did they force a lot of turnovers, so it's possible they hit their ceiling early in the NIT tournament.
Battle-tested Iowa should come away with the victory on Friday.
On Saturday, No. 4 Stanford will face No. 1 seed Alabama in Region 3 play. Alabama rocked No. 8 seed Northeastern in the first round, 62-43, while Stanford narrowly defeated No. 5 seed Stephen F. Austin, 58-57.
While the Cardinal barely beat Stephen F. Austin, I like how they match up against 'Bama. Alabama isn't as good of a rebounding team, and Stanford ranked better in offensive efficiency than the Crimson Tide during the regular season. Also, I don't expect the Cardinal to shoot as poorly against Alabama as they did against Stephen F. Austin.
Kenpom.com ranks Stanford 49th in the nation and Alabama 58th. It's not a huge gap, but I do believe it's an accurate representation of each team.
On Sunday, No. 1 seed Virginia will take on No. 5 seed St. John's. The Cavaliers knocked off 2012 NCAA tournament darling Norfolk State in the first round, 67-56. St. John's edged Saint Joe's, 63-61.
I don't give St. John's much of a chance in this one. Virginia has a clear advantage on offense (St. John's ranks 277th in offensive efficiency), is a better defensive team (ranked 13th in defensive efficiency) and has an advantage on the glass with junior forward Akil Mitchell (9.0 rebounds per game).
On Monday, upstart Robert Morris (which shocked Kentucky in the first round) faces Providence, Southern Miss takes on Louisiana Tech and BYU tips off with Mercer. I see Providence, Southern Miss and BYU advancing.
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