Every marquee show needs an opening act, and the NIT fills that role for college basketball fans counting down to the first round of the NCAA tournament action on Thursday.
While the Big Dance officially started Tuesday with the First Four in Dayton, Ohio, the NIT did not lack for name power with marquee programs such as Ohio State, Florida, Florida State, Davidson, South Carolina, Saint Mary's and San Diego State taking the floor.
With that in mind, here is a look at the scores from Tuesday's action, as well as a look at Wednesday's schedule and a link to an updated bracket.
|Ohio State vs. Akron||72-63, Ohio State (OT)|
|Florida State vs. Davidson||84-74, Florida State|
|South Carolina vs. High Point||88-66, South Carolina|
|Creighton vs. Alabama||72-54, Creighton|
|Washington vs. Long Beach State||107-102, Washington|
|Florida vs. North Florida||97-68, Florida|
|Valparaiso vs. Texas Southern||84-73, Valparaiso|
|San Diego State vs. IPFW||79-55, San Diego State|
|Saint Mary's vs. New Mexico State||58-56, Saint Mary's|
Wednesday's Schedule and Bracket
|St. Bonaventure vs. Wagner||7 p.m.|
|Georgia vs. Belmont||7 p.m.|
|Monmouth vs. Bucknell||7:30 p.m.|
|Virginia Tech vs. Princeton||8 p.m.|
|George Washington vs. Hofstra||8 p.m.|
|Georgia Tech vs. Houston||9 p.m.|
|BYU vs. UAB||10 p.m.|
An updated bracket can be found here, courtesy of NCAA.com.
Ohio State 72, Akron 63 (OT)
It took overtime, but Ohio State outlasted in-state challenger Akron, 72-63.
The Buckeyes were short-handed with Jae'Sean Tate out for the season and Keita Bates-Diop out for Tuesday's contest, but Marc Loving, Kam Williams and JaQuan Lyle picked up the slack with 18 points each.
The Zips were an abysmal 9-of-42 from three-point range and couldn't knock off head coach Thad Matta's team from the outside. Land-Grant Holy Land of SB Nation had some fun with the victory over a fellow Ohio team:
COME ON DAYTON— Land-Grant Holy Land (@Landgrant33) March 16, 2016
COME ON UC
COME ON XAVIER
BRING ON ALL CHALLENGERS
Florida State 84, Davidson 74
Ohio State wasn't the only football-powerhouse school to notch an NIT victory Tuesday. Florida State handled Davidson, 84-74, behind a strong offensive performance in the second half.
The Seminoles notched 54 points after halftime and received an impressive showing from the backcourt of Dwayne Bacon and Malik Beasley. Bacon finished with 23 points and five rebounds, while Beasley added 21 points, nine rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocks. Beasley was also the only Florida State player to make a three-pointer, and he drilled all three of his attempts.
The Wildcats remained within striking distance with 13 threes of their own that would have made alumnus Stephen Curry proud, but Florida State's guards were too much to overcome.
South Carolina 88, High Point 66
Even with five players suspended, per the Gamecocks' official website, South Carolina won its Tuesday contest against High Point in easy fashion, 88-66.
It was largely a two-man show for the Gamecocks, with Laimonas Chatkevicius and Sindarius Thornwell leading the way. Chatkevicius finished with 30 points on a blazing 15-of-16 shooting from the field, while Thornwell posted 20 points, seven assists, five rebounds, two steals and two blocks. Michael Carrera finished with a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Mike Schmitz of DraftExpress weighed in on Chatkevicius' impact:
6-11 South Carolina center Laimonas Chatkevicius has been excellent in the second half. All types of tricks on the block. Soft touch.— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) March 12, 2016
South Carolina may be challenged down the line in the NIT if it doesn't get its depth back, but it was unstoppable Tuesday.
Creighton 72, Alabama 54
Creighton knocking off Alabama would surely turn heads in a hypothetical football game, but the Bluejays were the better basketball team Tuesday and earned a 72-54 victory.
Maurice Watson Jr. poured in 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the field, while Geoffrey Groselle posted a double-double with 12 points and 14 boards. Khyri Thomas chipped in from the backcourt with 15 points, eight rebounds, three steals and two assists.
Big East Coast Bias of SB Nation commented on Alabama's offensive struggles during the game:
Creighton's up 41-23 with 15 minutes to go. With how they've been playing, Alabama may not get to 41 points at all. I like Creighton's odds.— Big East Coast Bias (@becb_sbn) March 16, 2016
The Crimson Tide finished an abysmal 17-of-60 from the field and 8-of-31 from three-point range.
Washington 107, Long Beach State 102
Washington and Long Beach State must have come to a mutual agreement before the game to leave defense to the regular season, as the Huskies outscored the 49ers, 107-102.
Even with all those points, only three Washington players scored in double figures. Fortunately for the victors, Dejounte Murray, Andrew Andrews and Marquese Chriss turned in monster performances. Murray finished with 30 points, nine rebounds and five assists, Chriss tallied a double-double with 27 points and 11 boards and Andrews chipped in 25 points, five rebounds and five assists.
It was too much for a 49ers squad that had five players finish in double figures, including Nick Faust, who scored 26.
Florida 97, North Florida 68
The Florida Gators were not kind to their in-state opponents Tuesday and drilled the North Florida Ospreys, 97-68.
All five Florida starters scored in double figures, but it was the team's overall effort from three-point range that made the difference. ESPN Stats & Info illustrated the red-hot shooting:
Florida made 16 3-pointers, its most in a game this season (made 7 more than North Florida, which leads D-I) pic.twitter.com/4HpWKsAg5J— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 16, 2016
The Ospreys turned the ball over 21 times and couldn't keep up with Florida's outside attack.
Valparaiso 84, Texas Southern 73
Valparaiso had trouble pulling away from Texas Southern at times Tuesday, but the Crusaders finished with an 84-73 victory.
Alec Peters was unstoppable for the victors and posted 28 points and seven rebounds while scoring in a variety of ways. He finished 9-of-16 from the field, 3-of-7 from downtown and 7-of-9 from the charity stripe and proved to be the difference in this game.
Texas Southern's Chris Thomas almost had an answer with 27 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and three steals, but it wasn't enough.
San Diego State 79, IPFW 55
San Diego State sent something of a message to the selection committee after it was left out of the NCAA tournament with a 79-55 victory over IPFW.
The Aztecs' typically stifling defense showed up once again and forced 16 turnovers from the Mastodons. IPFW also struggled from the field and finished 19-of-61 from the floor and 7-of-25 from three-point range.
Winston Shepard finished with a triple-double for the victorious Aztecs with 10 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds.
Saint Mary's 58, New Mexico State 56
Saint Mary's outlasted New Mexico State in a game that featured the closest final score of Tuesday's slate, 58-56.
Joe Rahon (14 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals), Emmett Naar (12 points, six assists and three rebounds) and Dane Pineau (13 points and seven rebounds) led the way for the Gaels in a defensive slugfest.
Saint Mary's was only 5-of-17 from three-point range, but the Aggies were a measly 23-of-64 from the field and 6-of-17 from downtown and couldn't overcome the Gaels defense.