The NIT progresses incredibly quickly, and we are now just one day away from completing the tournament's quarterfinals.
Five teams have already advanced past the second round and are now just one game away from the semifinals at Madison Square Garden. Before that happens, three more games remain in the second round to decide who will compete in the regional finals.
The second round's Day 4 features six teams that competed in difficult conference throughout the season and are clearly battle-tested heading into the postseason. Almost all of them were considered bubble teams at one point before various levels of struggle down the stretch.
This will create a thrilling day of basketball to keep fans excited while they wait for the next round of the NCAA tournament to begin. Here is a look at what to expect with Monday's action.
Note: All NIT games can be viewed online at Watch ESPN.
|7 p.m.||Florida State (1)||Georgetown (4)||ESPN|
|9 p.m.||SMU (1)||LSU (5)||ESPN|
|11 p.m.||California (2)||Arkansas (3)||ESPN2|
View the latest bracket at NCAA.com.
Day 4 Preview
Georgetown at Florida State
When these two teams get together, you can expect a slow, physical, low-scoring battle that will be decided by just a few plays.
One of the things that has helped Florida State throughout the season is its unique size up front. Michael Ojo and Boris Bojanovsky are each over seven feet tall, while Okaro White stands at 6'9" with great athleticism and versatility.
Georgetown will have a hard time matching up with this front line on both ends of the court.
However, Seminoles coach Leonard Hamilton admired the offense his team will face, explaining to Ira Schoffel of Tallahassee.com:
They run the Princeton system with outstanding athletes. Most of the time, the Princeton system is run with more shooters, passers and catchers. This team has shooters, passers and catchers that are athletic and take you off the dribble.
D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera proved what he can do against West Virginia with 32 points and 10 rebounds in a first-round win. The guard is likely to be very aggressive in this one and will try to get into the lane as often as possible.
Unfortunately, he will not be able to get off as many good looks as he is used to seeing. Florida State's Ian Miller will then take care of the offense to secure a close win.
Prediction: Florida State 61, Georgetown 59
LSU at SMU
SMU was arguably the biggest NCAA tournament snub this season, as the squad was ranked in the Top 25 entering Selection Sunday. Even the committee chairman admitted it was the first team out:
NCAA chair Wellman just said SMU was the first team out. "The glaring weakness about SMU was their schedule."— Chris Dufresne (@DufresneLATimes) March 17, 2014
However, the young team is not giving up on the season. Larry Brown's squad had a number of impressive wins this season over Cincinnati, Connecticut and Memphis, and it will keep fighting in the NIT.
The key to the team's success is an efficient defense, which ranks 10th in the country, according to KenPom.com. With a balanced offensive attack, the Mustangs should keep up their winning ways.
LSU has plenty of talent, including Johnny O'Bryant in the low post, but the squad has been too inconsistent to continue its run in the NIT. The Tigers have not won consecutive games since Feb. 1, and they have gone 2-7 in their past nine road games.
SMU will make things too difficult inside for LSU, and the road team will not be able to defend well enough to keep this a low-scoring battle. This will give the AAC squad its second win as it looks to prove to the selection committee that it was wrong.
Prediction: SMU 67, LSU 54
Arkansas at California
While Arkansas might struggle at times, the squad is often fun to watch. The Razorbacks are the fifth most-active team in the country in terms of pace, and it has led to plenty of success this season.
They finished the year fifth in the SEC with a 10-8 conference record, including two wins over Kentucky and an overtime loss to Florida. Of course, the league has fared quite well in the NCAA tournament so far.
Florida, Kentucky and Tennessee have each reached the Sweet 16, proving that the SEC is better than many people expected. Arkansas can continue that narrative with a strong performance in the NIT.
SEC is the first conference to go 7-0 or better in the NCAA Tournament entering the Sweet 16 since the Big East went 8-0 in 2003.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 24, 2014
The Razorbacks certainly appear to be in better shape than California, which really struggled to end the year. The Bears entered the NIT with four losses in their final five games and a 5-9 record in the last 14 contests.
Senior Richard Solomon missed the first-round matchup with a concussion and will be out again against Arkansas, according to John Crumpacker of SFGate.com.
Justin Cobbs and David Kravish have talent, but they cannot make up for the lack of an interior presence.
Arkansas will keep moving the ball up and down the court and create a layup line on the offensive end, leading to a tough road victory.
Prediction: Arkansas 78, California 71
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