NIT 2014: Schedule, Bracket Predictions and More for Round 2 Action

Chris RolingFeatured ColumnistMarch 21, 2014

Mar 14, 2014; El Paso, TX, USA; Louisiana Tech Bulldogs guard Kenneth Smith (4) celebrates with teammates after hitting a three point shot against the Southern Miss Golden Eagles in the semifinals of the Conference USA college basketball tournament at Don Haskins Center. The Bulldogs defeated the Golden Eagles 88-70. Mandatory Credit: Ivan Pierre Aguirre-USA TODAY Sports
Ivan Pierre Aguirre-USA TODAY Sp

No Madness here, but plenty of quality basketball fans won't want to miss as the 2014 NIT tournament heads into Round 2.

Sure, all of the teams are undoubtedly scoffing at the selection committee in hindsight—No. 9 Colorado went out and got blasted in Round 2 of the NCAA tournament 77-48—but each team that feels slighted can take out its aggression and pick up a neat consolation prize in the process.

Over the course of the next three days, Round 2 of the NIT is sure to captivate those fans that give it the time of day.

NIT Round 2 Schedule
Date Matchup Time (ET) TVPredicted Winner
Friday, March 21 (8) Robert Morris vs. (5) Belmont 9:30 p.m. ESPNURobert Morris
Saturday, March 22 (3) Louisiana Tech vs. (2) Georgia 11 a.m. ESPNGeorgia
Sunday, March 23 (2) Illinois vs. (3) Clemson 11 a.m. ESPNClemson
Sunday, March 23 (4) Saint Mary's vs. (1) Minnesota 3 p.m. ESPN2Minnesota
Sunday, March 23 (3) Southern Miss. vs. (2) Missouri 5 p.m. ESPNUSouthern Miss.
Monday, March 24 (4) Georgetown vs. (1) Florida State 7 p.m. ESPNFlorida State
Monday, March 24 (6) LSU vs. (1) SMU 9 p.m. ESPNSMU
Monday, March 24 (3) Arkansas vs. (2) California 11 p.m. ESPN2California


Matchups to Watch

(3) Louisiana Tech vs. (2) Georgia

ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 14:  Charles Mann #4 of the Georgia Bulldogs reacts after forcing a turnover by the Mississippi Rebels during the quarterfinals of the SEC Men's Basketball Tournament at Georgia Dome on March 14, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Ke
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

At 20-13 and just 12-6 in the SEC, the Georgia Bulldogs did not live up to expectations this year, but they quietly have the offensive firepower behind sophomore Charles Mann (13.9 points per game) to compete with any team in the NIT.

This was on full display in Round 1, where Georgia took down Vermont 63-56 thanks in large part to Mann's 29 points.

Now flip to the other side—Louisiana Tech was a sexy sleeper pick in the Big Dance before narrowly missing out on a bid. The Bulldogs are coming off a thrilling win over Iona thanks to a layup by Kenneth Smith with 2.2 seconds left. After the game, he spoke about his big play, according to the Associated Press via the Boston Herald: "I just crashed the board and it came our way. Luckily we were able to win this game."

In a showdown between two teams that may have been able to make noise in the Big Dance, something will have to give. In the end, it will be Georgia's stellar defense that surrenders just 66.4 points per game that shuts down a Louisiana Tech offense with inflated numbers, having run wild on C-USA.

Prediction: Georgia 64, Louisiana Tech 55


(4) Georgetown vs. (1) Florida State

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 1:  D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera #4 of the Georgetown Hoyas looks on during the game against the Michigan State Spartans at Madison Square Garden on February 1, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Nate Shron/Getty Images)
Nate Shron/Getty Images

Chalk this up as two big programs certainly not too accustomed to NIT ball.

Officially, these two made up 50 percent of the first four out, as noted by Brian Hamilton of Sports Illustrated:

Florida State was one missed opportunity away from the Big Dance, as a loss to Virginia in the ACC tournament sealed its fate. To be fair, not many teams beat the Cavaliers all season. 

The heartbreak hurts a bit more for Georgetown, owner of impressive wins over the likes of Michigan State, Creighton, VCU and Kansas State.

For those that enjoy defensive battles between sound teams, look no further than this matchup. The Seminoles allow just 65.5 points per game and average a superb 5.4 blocks per game, which are great figures considering they came in ACC play.

Against a rather stagnant Georgetown offense that relies solely on D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera (17.4 points per game) for the bulk of its production, the Seminoles will be able to ride their sound defense to a comfortable victory.

Prediction: Florida State 68, Georgetown 60


Follow Chris_Roling on Twitter