NIT 2021: Updated Odds Guide and Tips for Quarterfinals Bracket

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IMarch 23, 2021

NIT 2021: Updated Odds Guide and Tips for Quarterfinals Bracket

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    Matt Strasen/Associated Press

    This year's National Invitation Tournament is already down to eight teams. And if that seems fast, it's because this year's tourney only had 16 teams in it, rather than the typical 32, as the entire event is being held in the Dallas-Fort Worth area due to the coronavirus pandemic.

    Those eight teams are now preparing for their quarterfinal games on Thursday, meaning the semifinal matchups will be set by the end of that night.

    Two No. 1 seeds remain in the NIT, as Colorado State and Memphis each advanced with first-round wins. However, there are also some underdogs still in the field, such as No. 4 seeds Mississippi State and Louisiana, who both pulled off upsets to reach the last eight.

    Here's a look at Thursday's quarterfinal schedule, along with odds and picks for each game.

Quarterfinals Schedule, Odds, Picks

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    Thursday, March 25

    No. 2 Richmond vs. No. 4 Mississippi State (no line), 6 p.m. ET, ESPN2

    No. 1 Colorado State (-0.5) vs. No. 3 NC State, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN

    No. 1 Memphis (-4.5) vs. No. 2 Boise State, 9 p.m. ET, ESPN

    No. 3 Western Kentucky vs. No. 4 Louisiana Tech (-1), 10 p.m. ET, ESPN2

    Picks in bold against the spread. Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook.

Colorado State Will Pull out Close Win over NC State

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    Richard W. Rodriguez/Associated Press

    Colorado State is only a 0.5-point favorite over NC State, and it's likely going to live up to that billing as a competitive matchup. It's the first time these two programs will face off, and it should be a close game that gets decided late.

    The Rams already know what it's like to play an NIT game that comes down to the closing seconds. In the first round, they edged No. 4-seeded Buffalo 75-73, winning on a layup by sophomore guard Isaiah Stevens with 1.2 seconds remaining. That could be valuable experience as Colorado State prepares to play NC State.

    The Wolfpack may be 14-10, but they've won six of their past seven games, including a 75-61 win over No. 2-seeded Davidson in the opening round of the NIT. NC State shot 58.8 percent from the field in that matchup (and 41.2 percent from three-point range), so if it carries over that momentum and stays hot, it could make things tough for Colorado State.

    However, the Rams are a balanced team with several players capable of scoring in bunches, including Stevens, who is averaging 15 points per game. So when they need to score a key bucket late, they should have no trouble doing so and will come away with the win.

Memphis Will Pull Away for Sizable Victory

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    Matt Strasen/Associated Press

    Memphis has been on a roll during the second half of its season, having won 11 of its past 14 games and beating No. 4-seeded Dayton 71-60 in the first round of the NIT. And of those three losses, two came against Houston, which is one of the 16 teams remaining in the NCAA tournament, so they were no mean matchups.

    Now, the Tigers will look to keep playing well against Boise State, which snapped a four-game losing streak by beating SMU 85-84 in the opening round of the NIT. The Broncos pulled out the win thanks to a go-ahead jumper by junior guard Devonaire Doutrive with 11 seconds remaining and a final defensive stop.

    The keys to victory for Memphis in this matchup will be limiting turnovers and knocking down its free throws to prevent Boise State from getting back into it. The Tigers are shooting 61.6 percent at the line this season, so they'll likely need to do better than that to hold off the Broncos.

    While Memphis may struggle with free throws, it excels in other offensive areas, which is why it has five players averaging between 9.2 and 12.9 points per game. The Tigers' balanced lineup will be too tough for Boise State to stop, and they'll clear the spread, winning by at least five points in this contest.

Bassey Will Power Western Kentucky to Victory

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    Charles Bassey is one of the top players participating in this year's NIT. The Western Kentucky junior center is averaging 17.7 points and 11.4 rebounds in 27 games, and he was named a third-team All-American. He had 19 points and 11 rebounds in the Hilltoppers' 69-67 win over No. 2-seeded St. Mary's in the opening round of the NIT.

    There's a strong chance Bassey is going to continue to play well as Western Kentucky takes on No. 4-seeded Louisiana Tech in the quarterfinals. And although the Hilltoppers are the higher seed, they're a one-point underdog against the Bulldogs, who upset No. 1-seeded Ole Miss in the first round.

    As Conference USA rivals, Western Kentucky and Louisiana Tech have already played twice this season, splitting the pair of matchups. The Hilltoppers won 66-64 on Jan. 8, then the Bulldogs bounced back with a 63-58 victory on Jan. 9.

    However, Bassey fared well in both games, giving Louisiana Tech trouble down low. So as long as Western Kentucky gets the ball to the 20-year-old in the post and lets him dominate, then it should be in a good position to win as an underdog in this quarterfinal matchup.

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