College Basketball: 2010 NIT Season Tip-Off Preview and Predictions

Jesse Kramer@Jesse_KramerCorrespondent INovember 9, 2010

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 20: Coach Jay Wright of the Villanova Wildcats speaks to his team against the Saint Mary's Gaels during the second round of the 2010 NCAA men's tournament at Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 20, 2010 in Providence, Rhode Island. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

First Round—East

Wake Forest vs. Hampton

This game will easily be Wake Forest's. Hampton, which only won 14 games last season, lost its two leading scorers from last year and doesn't have anybody that will be able to step up against a big, more athletic team like Wake Forest.

Wake Forest 87, Hampton 57

VCU vs. Winthrop

Virginia Commonwealth will be on its way to a victory in the first game of the tournament. The Rams, who have one of the best mid-major recruiting classes, will add their young, fresh talent to their more experienced upperclassmen, who have experience as winners, and the Rams will be a tough team to beat this year. 

VCU 81, Winthrop 67

First Round—West

UCLA vs. Pepperdine

UCLA appears to be back on track to becoming a college basketball powerhouse once again. The Bruins are bringing in one of the better recruiting classes in college basketball. Pepperdine is coming off a 7-24 season, and despite the addition of two solid freshmen, the Waves are not where they need to be to beat UCLA.

UCLA 78, Pepperdine 60

Nevada vs. Pacific

Nevada lost a very large chunk of its scoring from last year. Despite bringing in a couple of solid recruits, the Wolf Pack might not be as good as it was last year. Pacific, which is also coming off a solid year, is returning its main players and also has one recruit, Khalil Kelley, who might be able to make a difference for the team from the start.

The only way Nevada will win this game will be if the freshmen step up and contribute a lot. Pacific's experience should be able to shut down Nevada and move the Tigers to the next round.

Pacific 68, Nevada 61

First Round—North

Villanova vs. Marist

Marist is coming off a 1-29 season where the one win was against the Manhattan Jaspers, who finished No. 9 in the MAAC. Unfortunately, the Red Foxes are not going to be making any big improvements this year. Although Villanova lost its leading scorer Scottie Reynolds, the rest of the main crew is back plus a couple of good recruits. In the end, Marist will have no chance of beating Villanova.

Villanova 92, Marist 53

George Washington vs. Boston University

Boston University is returning three of its five leading scorers from last season, plus the Terriers have the addition of a bunch of solid freshmen. The Terriers will have five players graded an 85 or higher on ESPN in this incoming recruiting class. George Washington lost its leading scorer from last year and will most likely be in some trouble for the upcoming season.

Boston University 76, George Washington 66

First Round—South

Tennessee vs. Belmont

Belmont has an outside chance of beating Tennessee in this game, but the Volunteers' superior athletic ability will be able to put them ahead. Tennessee has lost a few of its big players from last year, but there are other experienced players that will be able to step up for the Volunteers, plus a couple of very good freshmen.

Tennessee 78, Belmont 67

Missouri State vs. Arkansas State

Missouri State is returning its six leading scorers from last season. The Bears are also bringing in a couple of solid freshmen, although they might not make a big impact early in the season. Arkansas State, despite not losing any key players from last season, is not really gaining much. The Red Wolves will simply not have enough to beat a more talented and experienced Missouri State squad.

Missouri State 74, Arkansas State 59

East Championship

Wake Forest vs. VCU

With only one senior and a bunch of freshmen, it could take a little while for Wake Forest to start playing its best basketball. VCU has enough talent and experience to come up with a win and move to the semifinals.

VCU 76, Wake Forest 71

West Championship

UCLA vs. Pacific

Pacific is a good team and is set up to have a very good season out of the Big West, but UCLA is too talented and athletic for the Tigers. UCLA's size will be too much for Pacific.

UCLA 79, Pacific 65

North Championship

Villanova vs. Boston University

Villanova is too talented for a small school like Boston University. Boston has a bunch of solid players, but Villanova's players are simply better. 

Villanova 85, Boston University 68

South Championship

Tennessee vs. Missouri State

Tennessee has a lot of players that have not played together until this point in their basketball careers; it may take a while for this talented Tennessee team to start jelling. This veteran Missouri State squad, which also has a lot of talent, could be looking at an early season upset.

Missouri State 73, Tennessee 69


UCLA vs. Villanova

UCLA's lack of seniors and excess of freshmen shows that the Bruins will most likely take a while to start jelling. If this matchup takes place in March, UCLA stands a chance. This early in the season the winner will almost definitely be Villanova. 

Villanova 79, UCLA 67

VCU vs. Missouri State

VCU does not quite have the talent and experience that Missouri State has. VCU should be able to keep this game close, but in the end Missouri State's superiority will give the Bears a win. 

Missouri State 68, VCU 62



The key player in this game will be UCLA forward Josh Smith. VCU does not have enough size to contain Smith, so as long as Smith can stay out of foul trouble he could have a big game, leading UCLA to a victory.

UCLA 72, VCU 64


Villanova vs. Missouri State

Missouri State will make a great run in this tournament, but the Bears do not have the talent to pull off an upset over Villanova. Villanova is loaded with talent and is far and away the best team in this tournament field.

Villanova 81, Missouri State 70

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