NIT 2013: Breaking Down Semifinal Matchups at Madison Square Garden
We're getting down to the wire in the 2013 NIT tournament.
Baylor and BYU will tip off on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden in the semifinals, while Maryland and Iowa will follow.
Baylor is coming off wins against No. 7 seed Long Beach State, No. 3 seed Arizona State and No. 4 Providence in the Kentucky bracket. BYU got to the semifinals by defeating No. 6 Washington, No. 7 seed Mercer and No. 1 seed Southern Miss in the Southern Mississippi bracket.
Maryland is coming off a 58-57 nail-biter against No. 1 seed Alabama. The Terrapins have also defeated No. 3 Denver and No. 7 Niagara in the tournament.
Iowa breezed past No. 6 seed Indiana State, No. 7 Stony Brook and No. 1 seed Virginia to reach the semifinals.
Here's a breakdown of the upcoming semifinal matchups in the 2013 NIT tournament.
All stats via TeamRankings.com unless otherwise noted
No. 2 Baylor vs. No. 3 BYU
While BYU has scored more points per game and shot better from the floor this season, Baylor actually owns the better offensive efficiency of the two (ranked 24th in the nation).
Part of the reason is because the Bears rank 65th in the country in offensive rebounding percentage.
On the other hand, the Cougars rank 35th in defensive rebounding percentage and they've been even better in that area lately.
Both teams are basically on the same level when it comes to defense. According to Kenpom.com, Baylor would allow approximately 95.5 points per 100 possessions to an average Division-I offense. BYU would allow approximately 95.6 points.
Baylor does have the advantage in three-point shooting, however, armed with junior guard Brady Heslip (40 percent from downtown). Baylor has also been better defending the three-ball this season.
Both Baylor and BYU have been taking care of the ball lately.
This is a close call for me, but I think the Cougars' advantage on the glass will propel them to victory.
No.2 Maryland vs. No. 3 Iowa
The Terrapins have their work cut out for them in this matchup. Kenpom.com rated Iowa 21st in the country this season while ranking Maryland 48th.
Iowa's field-goal percentage is a bit misleading. The Hawkeyes rank 208th in field-goal percentage, but rank 98th in offensive efficiency. That's because Iowa ranks 38th in offensive rebounding rate, as well as ranking 23rd in free throws attempted per offensive play.
Which two teams will advance to the NIT title game?
Maryland ranks 88th in offensive efficiency, but the Terrapins also had an easier strength of schedule this season in the ACC. Iowa faced better offensive and defensive clubs in the Big Ten.
On the the defensive side of the ball, Iowa ranks 28th in defensive efficiency while Maryland ranks 45th.
On the other hand, Maryland has a significant advantage on the glass with center Alex Len. Len posted 15 points, 13 boards and five blocks against Alabama in the quarterfinals. That bothers me, considering Iowa ranks 94th in defensive rebounding percentage.
In the end, I like Iowa, but I think Len has the potential to propel Maryland to victory. This should be a close ballgame.
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