The 2017 National Invitation Tournament continues Sunday with a trio of second-round games. The NIT had actually done a better job of living up to the March Madness moniker than the NCAA tournament prior to the excitement finally arriving to the Big Dance on Saturday.
While defending national champions Villanova fell in the NCAA tourney Saturday, the NIT also lost one of its top seeds as Syracuse lost to Ole Miss. That leaves Illinois State and Iowa as the event's only No. 1 seeds left standing after Cal's loss to CSU Bakersfield in Round 1.
Let's check out the remaining slate for the NIT's second round. That's followed by a preview and prediction for the best game among Sunday's group. For a look at the updated tournament bracket, visit the NCAA's official website.
Round 2 Schedule
|2017 NIT: Second-Round Results, Game Times and TV Info|
|March 18||85-80 MISS||(1) Syracuse vs. (5) Mississippi||ESPN|
|March 19||12 p.m.||(6) Georgia Tech vs. (7) Belmont||ESPN|
|March 19||5 p.m.||(1) Iowa vs. (4) TCU||ESPN2|
|March 19||7:30 p.m.||(6) Richmond vs. (7) Oakland||ESPNU|
|March 20||7 p.m.||(1) Illinois State vs. (4) UCF||ESPN|
|March 20||8 p.m.||(6) UT Arlington vs. (7) Akron||ESPNU|
|March 20||9 p.m.||(2) Illinois vs. (6) Boise State||ESPN|
|March 20||11:15 p.m.||(4) Colorado State vs. (8) CSU Bakersfield||ESPN2|
Sunday's Top Game: (4) TCU at (1) Iowa
Streaky is the best way to describe TCU. The Horned Frogs started the season 8-0 and endured a seven-game losing streak starting in mid-February to doom their at-large hopes for the NCAA tournament. But they've bounced back nicely to win three of their past four.
The recent run of success includes victories over Kansas in the Big 12 tournament quarterfinals and Fresno State in their NIT opener. If they can maintain their current form, they are a legitimate threat to cut down the nets at Madison Square Garden.
For now, they're focused on a matchup with an exciting, young Hawkeyes squad with a bright future that should feature a few NCAA tourney appearances in the coming years.
Leading scorer Peter Jok is a senior, but all of the team's other key contributors are underclassmen. It's created a perfect storm of players growing with experience, while still having that go-to player at the offensive end during crunch time.
Jimmy Burch of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram passed along comments from TCU head coach Jamie Dixon about the matchup.
"They're a very good offensive team. They really push the ball, make or miss, and play a variety of defenses," he said. "Nothing we haven't seen. But there's a lot of motion offense and a lot of depth. They play a lot of guys, and they've been playing well lately."
In addition, the atmosphere for the contest should be outstanding. Any thought that postseason games outside the NCAA tournament don't carry as much weight or meaning to fans should be dispelled by a jam-packed Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday afternoon.
Josh Christensen of KCRG noted every seat should be filled:
Ultimately, this game has all the hallmarks of a battle that isn't decided until the final minutes.
TCU junior guard Kenrich Williams will be the X-factor. Not only is he the Horned Frogs' third-leading scorer as part of their balanced offense, but he'll be tasked with trying to slow down Jok, who can score from anywhere and is capable of getting his defender in foul trouble by attacking the paint.
The visitors don't want this to become a shootout. If the score ends up in the 80s or higher, Iowa likely gets the victory. But if TCU can force its more moderate pace on the Hawkeyes, it should be able to score the road upset to punch a ticket to the quarterfinals.
Prediction: TCU 71, Iowa 70