NIT Tournament 2021: Updated Bracket and Schedule for Saturday's Contests

Maurice Bobb@@ReeseReportFeatured ColumnistMarch 20, 2021

Saint Louis' Hasahn French (11) is congratulated by teammate Jordan Goodwin (0) after making a layup as Rhode Island's Antwan Walker watches during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

While presumptive No. 1 seed Louisville opted out of the 2021 National Invitation Tournament, Colorado State, Saint Louis, Ole Miss and Memphis decided to suit up and take their chance at being the last man standing out of the 16-team field.

And the games have not disappointed.

Isaiah Stevens was the hero in the Rams' 75-73 win over Buffalo in the first game on Friday night. With four seconds left on the clock, he drove the lane and connected on a lefty layup in traffic, propelling his team to the quarterfinals.

Surprisingly, that nail-biter was upstaged by Louisiana Tech's 70-61 upset win over the Rebels. Ole Miss was without point guard Devontae Shuler and forward KJ Buffen, so they had to lean on a play-by-committee strategy on offense. But with their game-high 21 turnovers, it was a long night anyway.

There are two games on the schedule for Saturday, with both the Tigers and the Billikens taking the floor looking to advance to the second round.

Here's a quick look at the schedule and preview for Saturday's matchups.


NIT First Round Schedule (All Times ET)

Saturday, March 20

No. 4 Dayton at No. 1 Memphis, 12 p.m., ESPN

No. 4 Mississippi St. at No. 1 Saint Louis, 5 p.m., ESPN

The updated bracket is available on NCAA.com



With Ole Miss eliminated, that leaves just three No. 1 seeds remaining in the NIT, and two of them will be in action on Saturday.

To start things off, Memphis will face Dayton at the UNT Coliseum in Denton, Texas.

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The Tigers (16-8) are looking to bounce back from their heartbreaking 76-74 loss to Houston in the semifinals of the AAC Tournament.

Boogie Ellis dropped a career-high 27 points in that game, and he'll be looking to build on that against the Flyers.

He is flanked by four teammates who average at least nine points a game, which means head coach Penny Hardaway will be bringing a balanced attack plan.

Dayton's Jalen Crutcher, who averaged 18.1 points, 3.6 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game this season, will be on the other side of the ball wanting to shake off the Flyers' 73-68 loss to VCU two weeks ago.

This will be a great matchup to watch, but look for Memphis to advance.

Top-seeded Saint Louis will face Mississippi State in the second game on the marquee, and they will be fired up after narrowly missing the NCAA Tournament.

The Billikens have won seven of their last 10 games, so MSU will have their hands full.

For their part, the Bulldogs are happy to still be playing, which could work against them.

"I'm excited that we're playing in the NIT," head coach Ben Howland told Sports Illustrated's Joel Coleman. "It's a great tournament with great history and great tradition. We are a young team. Any time you can get some postseason experience, I think it helps kids."

Saint Louis should win and move on to face Richmond in the quarterfinals on Mar. 25.