Four teams are one win away from the Championship Series in the College Basketball Invitational, aka the CBI.
Illinois State will take on Siena, and Old Dominion clashes with Fresno State on Wednesday night. One of the things that sets the CBI apart from the NCAA tournament and the NIT is that the final two teams compete in a best-of-three series to determine the champion.
That brings an intriguing dynamic to the event.
Here's a look at Wednesday's schedule and predictions for both games. Also, click here to see the most updated bracket from The Gazelle Group, the primary sponsor of the tournament.
|Old Dominion vs. Fresno State||10 p.m. ET|
|Illinois State vs. Siena||7 p.m. ET|
Illinois State Redbirds' Struggles on the Road Will Continue
If the Redbirds played all of their games in Normal, Ill., the team would probably have been invited to the NCAA tournament. Unfortunately, that isn't the case. After enjoying home cooking in the first two games of the CBI, Illinois State has to hit the road and that's where things haven't gone well for the team.
Away from home, the Redbirds are just 3-10.
With both Illinois State and Siena's rosters filled with young players (neither team has a senior), playing and winning on the road is difficult.
The Saints already proved to be too tough for the Penn State Nittany Lions at home in the quarterfinals. It's hard to imagine the Redbirds succeeding where Penn State could not.
Siena has experienced one of the most dramatic turnarounds in men's college basketball this season.
The CBI isn't at the top of the postseason college hoops tournament pyramid, but for a team that won just 25 percent of its games in 2013, making it to the tournament's semifinals is a big deal.
The Catch and Shoot echoes those sentiments:
In year one, Jimmy Patsos has Siena in the CBI semifinals. Doesn’t seem like a huge deal, but the Saints were 8-24 last season.— The Catch and Shoot (@Catch_N_Shoot) March 25, 2014
Siena's talented freshman Marquis Wright leads the MAAC in assists with 5.4 per game. His dribble penetration against the Illinois State zone will help to open up shooters on the wings.
In a hostile environment like the Times Union Center in Albany, N.Y., the Redbirds youngsters will fold on the road as they have all season.
Turnovers and Poor Free Throw Shooting Will Doom Old Dominion
As was discussed in the previous preview, winning on the road is hard. Matters become more difficult when the road team struggles to make free throws and doesn't take care of the ball.
The Old Dominion Monarchs have these issues.
Coming into the game ODU is making just 62 percent of its free throws as a team, and turning the ball over 13.1 times. On top of those statistics, the Monarchs are just 5-8 on the road.
The biggest issue is likely to be the free throw problems. The Monarchs' worst free-throw shooters are players who play significant minutes.
Richard Ross (49.6), Keenan Taylor (56.8) and Denzell Taylor (36.2) all play at least 26 minutes per game, but none of them makes as much as 57 percent of their free throws. That's a bad look heading into a road game in a tournament format.
Via his Twitter account, Fresno State head coach Rodney Terry thanked the crowd and urged them to provide support on Wednesday.
We really appreciated our crowd tonight! The Red Wave made the difference tonight! We need you Wed against a well coached Old Dominion team!— Rodney Terry (@RodneyTerry) March 25, 2014
The Bulldogs faithful and their players should be out in full force against ODU.
Look for Tyler Johnson, Paul Watson and Marvelle Harris to bomb freely from beyond the arc. The trio is a combined 10-for-22 from deep in the CBI. Their marksmanship and ODU's deficiencies will land Fresno State in the finals.
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