Monday night will mark the beginning of the NIT Season Tip-Off. The 16-team tournament is made up of four regionals. Winners of the first-round games advance to the regional championships, and the four regional champions advance to the semifinals in Madison Square Garden.
In the North Regional, Albany will play Brown, and then Manhattan will play Syracuse.
Albany vs. Brown
Albany and Brown meet in an evenly matched game. Both return a solid group of players from last year, and both are expected to put up similar numbers. In what could end up in a three-point shootout, the hotter team will win.
Although both teams shot well from three-point range last season, Albany shot just 3-for-17 in its season opener against Pittsburgh.
Brown has not yet played against a Division I team, but in a preseason game against Johnson and Wales the Bears shot 7-for-15 from beyond the arc.
Albany will probably have the best player on the floor in Logan Aronhalt, but Brown appears to be in a better position to win and advance in the tournament.
My prediction: Brown by two
Manhattan vs. Syracuse, ESPNU
Who will win the North Regional?
Manhattan opened up the season with a win over NJIT on Saturday. The Jaspers played an ugly game but still managed to come out on top against the inferior Highlanders.
Meanwhile, Syracuse also won its season opener over Fordham, 78-53.
The Jaspers do not stand much of a chance at winning this game, but don't be surprised if they keep it closer than expected.
Manhattan's high-energy pressure defense could give Syracuse some problems early. In their first game, the Jaspers were able to force 20 turnovers. Although the Syracuse ballhandlers are better than those of NJIT, the Orange could still have some trouble with the press.
Manhattan's biggest struggles will be on the boards and from beyond the arc.
The Jaspers are undersized, with their only player taller than 6'7'' being Kevin Laue, who played only five minutes per game last year. In all likelihood, the Orange will dominate Manhattan on the glass.
In order to stay close, Manhattan will have to hit some jump shots against the Syracuse 2-3 zone. Against NJIT, the Jaspers shot 2-for-20 from three-point range. Atrocious shooting against the Orange will put them in a hole that they will not be able to dig out of.
In the end, No. 5 Syracuse should get by Manhattan fairly easily. The Jaspers have been rebuilding for a number of years now, but, despite higher expectations this season, they are not ready to take on a top 5 team.
Syracuse will win on their home floor and advance to the winner's bracket.
My prediction: Syracuse by 21
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