NIT Tournament 2013: Predicting Winning Teams for Semifinal Games

Jesse ReedCorrespondent IMarch 28, 2013

Mar 9, 2013; Iowa City, IA, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes guard Roy Devyn Marble (4) is defended by Nebraska Cornhuskers guard Dylan Talley (24) at Carver Hawkeye Arena.  Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports
Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

The 2013 National Invitation Tournament is down to just four remaining teams, and the semifinal games will take place at Madison Square Garden on April 2. 

Baylor will face off against BYU in the first matchup at 7 p.m. ET, and Maryland will take on Iowa at 9 p.m. ET. All four teams would rather be playing in the NCAA tournament, but they've played with pride and excellence to make it to this point in the NIT.

So which two teams will come away victorious in the semifinals to compete for the NIT championship? 


Baylor (2) vs. BYU (3)

This contest has the potential to be an offensive shootout.

The Baylor Bears have had no trouble scoring in this tournament, averaging 93 points per game. This team averaged 75.9 points per contest during the regular season, which ranked No. 22 in the nation.

Baylor's 112-point performance against Long Beach State in the first round certainly boosted the team's NIT average, but the fact remains that the Bears are hot on offense right now. 

Senior guard Pierre Jackson has come alive in the past two games, scoring 46 points. He has struggled from behind the arc in these two games, hitting just two-of-10 three-point shots, and if he can start hitting those shots, Baylor's offense will really take off. 

Junior forward Cory Jefferson has been the catalyst for Baylor's offensive explosion, scoring 62 points in the team's three games. He has also been active on the glass and on defense, racking up 18 rebounds and seven blocks. 

On the other side, BYU has also been offensively dynamic in the NIT, averaging 86 points per game.

Sophomore guard Tyler Haws has been unstoppable. He has scored 86 points in three games while dishing out nine assists and hauling in 13 rebounds. The best part about Haws' game is that he's not turning the ball over (four turnovers in three games), and he has only hit on four three-point attempts.

Senior forward Brandon Davies has also been playing well, scoring 60 points and bringing down 32 rebounds. 

Prediction: BYU will defeat Baylor. Haws is simply too hot to be contained right now, and as long as Davies continues dominating down low, BYU will win.


Maryland (2) vs. Iowa (3)

Unlike the first matchup, this contest has the potential to be a defensive struggle. 

Both teams feature strong frontcourts that do an excellent job rebounding the basketball, both on the offensive and defensive side of the ball. 

Maryland hasn't come close to its seasonal average the past two games, scoring 62 and 58 points in narrow wins over Denver and Alabama. 

Sophomore guard/forward Dez Wells has been the team's most consistent offensive performer. He has scored 44 points in the team's three games and has done a good job on the glass with 14 rebounds.

Unfortunately, Wells hasn't had consistent support from sophomore center Alex Len—the team's second-leading scorer in the regular season—who has had only one solid game in the tournament. 

Iowa, on the other hand, has seen junior guard/forward Roy Devyn Marble put forth a tournament MVP-type effort so far. He's averaging 25 points per game while scoring at least 24 points per game in all three contests. Marble is also dishing out dimes at a nice clip with 16 assists.

Marble has gotten help from different players in all three games, but as long as he's on the floor, Iowa's offense will score points. 

Prediction: Iowa will defeat Maryland. Marble is playing like a champ right now, and it's not likely his hot streak will come to an end in this matchup.


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