The NCAA tournament is clearly the headlining event of the entire college basketball season, but the NIT has plenty of talented teams in its field as well.
What’s more, the NIT has the quirks that come with home-court advantage in a postseason setting and the goal of reaching the Final Four to play in Madison Square Garden.
The first round is officially in the books, which means the level of competition will be even higher in the second round. Teams have their sights set on reaching New York, which is more than enough motivation at this time of year.
The first day of the second round is on Friday, and there is one game on the official docket. Here is a look at the schedule and broadcast information.
No. 5 Belmont vs. No. 8 Robert Morris
Date: Friday, March 21, 2014
Time: 9:30 p.m. ET
TV: ESPN U
Live Stream: ESPN3
Now that we know what the schedule is for the first day of the NIT’s second round, let’s dig into a couple of predictions for that contest.
Belmont Advances in the NIT
Robert Morris was the darling of the 2013 NIT because of its upset victory over Kentucky.
It knocked off another No. 1 seed in the first round of the 2014 version in St. John’s on Tuesday and will use that momentum to try to upset No. 5 Belmont. Unfortunately for the Colonials, the magic will run out in Round 2.
Belmont brings one of the best offenses in the entire country into this contest. Ken Pomeroy has the Bruins ranked No. 37 in his pace-adjusted offensive efficiency rankings, and the four-headed attack of J.J. Mann, Craig Bradshaw, Reece Chamberlain and Drew Windler will be too much for Robert Morris to handle.
Mann led the way with 18.1 points per game, while Bradshaw checked in at 15.5, Chamberlain with 11.2 and Windler with 10.2. Having four legitimate scoring threats on the floor at the same time is a notable advantage, especially in the NIT field.
What’s more, the Bruins will have momentum from their impressive first-round win over Green Bay, as coach Rick Byrd pointed out according to The Associated Press, via ESPN.com:
"It's a big win for us. It's a big win because of the stage and the national tournament and a lot of tradition. It's also a big win because of the team and the season Green Bay had this year."
Looking forward, a victory would put Belmont one game away from Madison Square Garden and the NIT Final Four.
The Bruins upset North Carolina this season and hung with Kentucky for 38 minutes in Lexington. They thrive on the big stage with the pressure on.
When it comes to basketball, the stage doesn’t get much bigger than Madison Square Garden.
Karvel Anderson Goes Off Again, Even in Defeat
Just take a look at ESPN Stats & Info’s breakdown of Karvel Anderson’s performance in the first round of the NIT to understand how much of an offensive threat he can be:
Karvel Anderson of Robert Morris with the "around the world" shot chart. He had a career-high 38 points in NIT win pic.twitter.com/j2bsQg3Cyn— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 19, 2014
Anderson scored 38 points and grabbed five rebounds in Robert Morris’ win over St. John’s. What’s more, he hit 12-of-20 shots from the field and 9-of-15 from behind the three-point line.
On the season, Anderson scored nearly 20 points a game, was automatic from the free-throw line and shot a blistering 46 percent from downtown. He will use the momentum from his last performance to torch Belmont’s 192nd-ranked defense, per Pomeroy.
Unfortunately for the Colonials, it still won’t be enough.
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