With the NCAA tournament taking a brief sabbatical before the Sweet 16 begins, the College Basketball Invitational takes center stage on Monday with all four quarterfinal games.
The eight teams comprising the CBI quarterfinals are an eclectic mix of strong offense, powerful defense, major conference teams against mid-major upstarts, and everything in between.
Here's a look at the quarterfinal bracket for the 2014 College Basketball Invitational.
|Radford at Old Dominion||7 p.m.||Radford|
|Penn State at Siena||7 p.m.||Siena|
|Texas A&M at Illinois State||9 p.m.||Texas A&M|
|Princeton at Fresno State||10 p.m.||Princeton|
How to Watch
The Penn State vs. Siena and Texas A&M vs. Illinois State matchups will be televised on CBS Sports Network at 7 p.m. ET and 9 p.m. ET, and streaming live on CBSSports.com.
Radford at Old Dominion
The matchup of Radford and Old Dominion is a clash of styles. The Highlanders are a team that likes to open things up on the floor, spread the ball around and get quick points. It worked to perfection against Oregon State in the first round, as they put up 96 points and shot 57 percent from the floor.
Oregon State scored 92 points in that game, which is not an uncommon occurrence when teams play Radford. Mike Jones' crew ranked 258th in defensive efficiency this season, allowing 107 points per 100 possessions.
Defense is what Old Dominion does best, holding opponents to 64.5 points per game (46th in the nation) and 99.8 points per 100 possessions (78th in the nation).
So which team has the edge?
It's hard not to like Radford in this game. Even with the defensive deficiencies, the Highlanders can put up points in droves. They're also going up against a team that can't score.
Old Dominion may not give up a lot of points, but the Monarchs don't put the ball in the basket with enough consistency to keep up with Radford. They ranked 323rd with 63.4 points per game and shoot 42.7 percent from the field.
It's not a good recipe for success against a quality offensive team like Radford.
Prediction: Radford 82, Old Dominion 73
Penn State at Siena
Some games you just look at and know they are going to be ugly, possibly painful to watch. Penn State vs. Siena falls into that category because of how bad these team are offensively.
The Nittany Lions rank 155th in scoring (71.5 points per game) and 227th in field goal percentage (43.3). The Saints are far from saintly with the ball in their hands, averaging just 69.9 points per game and shooting 42.1 percent from the floor.
Both teams are under .500 at 16-17, though you can argue that Penn State's record is more impressive because it has the benefit of playing against Big Ten competition. The Nittany Lions did have two impressive wins against Ohio State in the regular season.
With so little actually separating Penn State and Siena, perhaps the simplest explanation will be the difference. Siena has superior size and rebounding, and is playing at home where it hasn't lost since Feb. 16.
Prediction: Siena 54, Penn State 50
Texas A&M at Illinois State
It should come as no surprise that Texas A&M's 16-point victory over Wyoming in the first round was the largest by any team so far in the CBI. The Aggies may not have had a regular season to remember, but they won 18 games playing in the SEC and defeated a good Tennessee team twice.
Billy Kennedy's team is also one of the best defensive units in the country, ranking 31st in points allowed per 100 possessions, according to SportsReference.com. They held Wyoming to just 29.8 percent shooting, including 20.8 percent from three-point range.
Kennedy was particularly pleased with the way his big men played offensively, notably Kourtney Roberson who led the way with 14 points. Kennedy told Richard Croome of Aggie Sports it's something the team must do to maintain success.
It seemed like we were able to force it in there, and once we got it in there, they were posting up. I just want them to want the ball. That's something we emphasize. Our guys like to play out on the perimeter. That's not a bad thing all the time, but we have got to have a post presence on both ends of the court.
On the other side, Illinois State got here with solid all-around win against Morehead State. The Redbirds aren't an offensive dynamo, averaging 68.2 points per game, but were able to shoot 40 percent from beyond the arc to score 77 points.
They are also weaker on defense than Texas A&M, allowing 69.2 points per game, so unless the Redbirds are able to show off that long-distance shooting again, this is going to be a difficult game to win.
Prediction: Texas A&M 66, Illinois State 58
Fresno State at Princeton
It may not have gotten the publicity of some NCAA tournament upsets, but Fresno State's victory over UTEP in the first round of the CBI is nothing to scoff at. The Bulldogs were a mid-tier Mountain West team in the regular season with just one win against the RPI top 100 (Boise State).
UTEP won 21 games and beat an NCAA tournament team in Tennessee during the regular season.
More surprising about the win was how well Fresno State's defense played. That unit ranked 212th in points allowed per 100 possessions and 206th in points allowed per game, yet the Miners could only muster 56 points on 35 percent shooting.
Fresno State coach Rodney Terry told Robert Kuwada of the Fresno Bee that the end of the season matchups against San Diego State and New Mexico, two NCAA tournament teams, prepared his club for the challenge UTEP presented.
We got a chance to gain some valuable experience playing down the stretch for something and seeing, and then we got a chance to play the team that won the (conference) tournament and played them in a hostile neutral court-type situation which, again, is a growing experience for us and our young guys and that's only going to make us better in the future.
Whatever happened to the Bulldogs over the last two weeks seemed to work, at least on one night.
Unfortunately what awaits is a better team in Princeton that won 21 games, including a victory over Ivy League champion Harvard, and sits alongside Texas A&M as one of the stingiest defensive teams in the CBI.
The Tigers don't have an explosive offense, averaging just 71.6 points per game, but they are an efficient group thanks to excellent guard play from T.J. Bray and quality three-point shooting (36.3 percent).
Don't expect a lot of points to be scored, but Princeton's strong defense and better overall shooting is enough to give it the edge against Fresno State.
Prediction: Princeton 58, Fresno State 53
Stats courtesy of SportsReference.com unless otherwise noted.
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