The Kentucky Wildcats may have been left out of the tournament for the first time in ages, and are unable to even attempt to defend their title, but least they earned a #1 seed in the NIT! That should placate the Bluegrass faithful, right? Right??
Obviously I kid, but a nightmare season has the potential to have the final embarrassing bow put on it tonight with an opening round NIT Round game at Robert Morris. How will the Cats react to the hostile environment in the 3,000 seat bandbox in Corioplois? Let’s face it, they’ve been a complete disaster on the road so far this season. Could they really lose a tourney game to Robert Morris??
Kentucky Wildcats -4.5 at Robert Morris (Opening Round – NIT)
I am leery of betting on the Cats tonight. It seems perfectly logical they’d come out incredibly flat today, given the miniscule stage and the anonymity of the opponent. It is being played in John Calipari’s home town, so perhaps he can dig into his motivational bag of tricks and coax a decent effort out of the Cats. They are certainly good enough to win the NIT, but will they care enough?? I’m not sure.
There are no useful stats to break this game down, given the widely disparate opponents these two have faced. So I am resorting to sheer motivation and emotion. This game is EVERYTHING to Robert Morris and their fans. Expect a frenzied, ready to storm the court-type crowd. I think it will rattle Kentucky and carry Robert Morris to a great effort.
Give me RMU with the 4.5 points and possibly a big upset win.
Free Pick: Robert Morris +4.5
St, Mary’s Gaels -3.5 vs. Middle Tennessee (NCAA Tournament Opening Round)
Both teams can feel fortunate to have made the field, but now must get to work to make sure their inclusions were worthwhile. That’s a lot of pressure on two teams trying to prove the exact same thing. Middle Tennessee became the team with the least Top 100 wins ever to be extended an at-large bid in the tourney. Their lone win looks better after last week (Ole Miss), but beyond that, there isn’t much there.
St. Mary’s catches a lot of flak for their soft schedule and for not beating Gonzaga in three tries. BUT, Gonzaga is the #1 team in the country… so a little grace might be needed. And they still have one of the most savvy floor leaders in the country in Matthew Delavadova. I expect him to control the game well enough to lead the Gaels to a win.
This is a team with tourney experience, and despite the quick turnaround and long trip east, I think they prevail tonight in Dayton.
Free Pick: St. Mary’s Gaels -3.5