For some of the NCAA tournament bubble teams shunned by the selection committee this March, the 2014 National Invitation Tournament will present an opportunity to finish the year on a high note and build momentum for next season.
Tuesday marks the opening day of action, and Round 1 tips off with nine matchups across the country.
With the madness set to begin, let's take a look at what you should be watching for on Day 1 of the 2014 NIT.
|2014 NIT Day 1 Schedule|
|Date||Matchup||Time (ET)||TV||Live Stream|
|Tue, March 18||(8) Robert Morris vs. (1) St. John's||7 p.m.||ESPNU||WatchESPN|
|Tue, March 18||(8) Florida Gulf Coast vs. (1) Florida State||7 p.m.||ESPN2||WatchESPN|
|Tue, March 18||(5) West Virginia vs. (4) Georgetown||7 p.m.||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|Tue, March 18||(5) Belmont vs. (4) Green Bay||8:15 p.m.||ESPN3||WatchESPN|
|Tue, March 18||(8) High Point vs. (1) Minnesota||8:15 p.m.||ESPN3||WatchESPN|
|Tue, March 18||(6) Indiana State vs. (3) Arkansas||9 p.m.||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|Tue, March 18||(6) Georgia State vs. (3) Clemson||9 p.m.||ESPNU||WatchESPN|
|Tue, March 18||(7) Davidson vs. (2) Missouri||9 p.m.||ESPN2||WatchESPN|
|Tue, March 18||(5) Utah vs. (4) Saint Mary's||11 p.m.||ESPN2||WatchESPN|
|Day 1 Predictions|
|(8) Robert Morris||65-80||(1) ST. JOHN'S|
|(8) Florida Gulf Coast||64-71||(1) FLORIDA STATE|
|(5) WEST VIRGINIA||77-67||(4) Georgetown|
|(5) Belmont||69-76||(4) GREEN BAY|
|(8) High Point||56-73||(1) MINNESOTA|
|(6) Indiana State||57-68||(3) ARKANSAS|
|(6) Georgia State||63-70||(3) CLEMSON|
|(7) Davidson||72-81||(2) MISSOURI|
|(5) Utah||70-75||(4) SAINT MARY'S|
Matchups to Watch For
No. 8 Florida Gulf Coast vs. No. 1 Florida State
The top-seeded Seminoles are surely disappointed about being left out of the NCAA tournament, but they will need to clear their heads in order to survive Florida Gulf Coast's upset bid on Tuesday.
The Eagles, better known as Dunk City, stole America's heart last March when they made an unthinkable run to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament as a No. 15 seed. Bernard Thompson, Chase Fieler and Brett Comer all have key tournament experience and won't be overwhelmed on the road.
Still, it's difficult to imagine the Eagles topping the Seminoles on their home court. Remember, this is a Florida State team that beat VCU and Massachusetts, took Michigan to overtime, and came within a point of beating Florida on the road.
If Florida State plays up to its potential, it should prevail over high-flying Florida Gulf Coast.
No. 5 West Virginia vs. No. 4 Georgetown
In one of Tuesday's most even matchups, West Virginia will travel to the nation's capital to renew an old Big East rivalry with Georgetown.
The Washington Post's Liz Clarke explains what makes Tuesday's showdown special:
It’s an old-school matchup (Georgetown holds a 26-25 edge in its series with West Virginia) in an old-school setting.
As the higher seed, the Hoyas will host Tuesday’s game, which is scheduled to tip off at 7 p.m. But because Verizon Center has a previous scheduling commitment, the Georgetown-West Virginia clash will be staged at 2,500-seat McDonough Arena on campus.
The Mountaineers and the Hoyas have each won 17 games this season and enter the NIT with little to no momentum. Georgetown dropped five of its last seven games to conclude the regular season, while West Virginia went 3-6 down the stretch after topping Oklahoma in overtime on Feb. 5.
For the Mountaineers, guards Juwan Staten and Eron Harris are must-see television. They combine to score more than 35 points per game, and Harris is shooting nearly 43 percent from beyond the arc.
On the other hand, Georgetown is led by the talented backcourt combo of Markel Starks and D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera, who each average 17 points per game.
Despite both teams' struggles of late, this matchup promises to be explosive, as each side has a real shot to reach New York next month.
No. 7 Davidson vs. No. 2 Missouri
Following the first three matchups at 7 p.m. ET, NIT viewers should watch for No. 7 Davidson at No. 2 Missouri.
The Wildcats won 15 straight conference games prior to their stunning overtime loss to Western Carolina in the Southern Conference tournament, and the Tigers were a bubble team that posted victories over NCAA tournament teams UCLA and NC State out of conference.
Missouri head coach Frank Haith is excited about the opportunity ahead, per The Kansas City Star's Tod Palmer: "I was fortunate enough to be part of a team at Wake Forest when we won the NIT (in 2000), and it was a great feeling to go to New York and compete."
Led by junior guard Jabari Brown, who's averaging nearly 20 points per game on 47 percent shooting from the field and 41 percent shooting from deep, Missouri is a threat to win the NIT this spring and will be awfully fun to watch on its home court.
For Davidson, senior forward De'Mon Brooks will be key. The 6'7", 230-pound veteran is averaging nearly 19 points and seven rebounds per outing, and he will need to make his presence felt on the glass in order for the Wildcats to pull off the upset.
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