I’m sure you are like me and anxious for tomorrow’s fantastic Sweet 16 games on deck. Miami vs. Marquette, Ohio State vs. Arizona, and Indiana vs. Syracuse… it feels more like a Final Four than a mere regional semifinal. We will be back tomorrow with a pair of columns and in-depth looks at some of the better games of tomorrow night (no, we haven’t completely forgot you Wichita State and La Salle…). But in the meantime, let’s get a jump on tomorrow’s excitement with a pair of nice matchups in the NIT.
Iowa Hawkeyes at Virginia Cavaliers -4.5
Perhaps the ACC wasn’t quite as bad as advertised. Maryland and Virginia have both looked good, and certainly like capable NCAA Tourney teams, so far in the NIT. Tonight UVA has an opportunity to join the Terps in New York in the NIT Final Four.
Their opponent is a talented Iowa team that has gone head-to-head with Indiana and Michigan State knocked off Michigan, Illinois and Minnesota. They are an athletic team, but might grow frustrated with the tempo the Cavaliers like to stall the game to.
Virginia has beaten Duke and North Carolina but it still wasn’t enogh to overcome a trio of Colonial league losses in the NCAA committee’s eyes. It seems to have inspired the team as opposed to deflating them. They have blown out their last two NIT opponents to rebound from a disappointing 3-5 ACC finish. Joe Harris is coming off a personally low-output game. Expect him to bounce back tonight and lead the Cavs to a nice victory.
Free Pick: Virginia Cavaliers -4.5
BYU Cougars at Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles -6
BYU is playing some of their best basketball of the season at the right time. Tyler Haws and Brandon Davies might be the best duo outside of Dez Wells/Alex Len not playing in the NCAA Tournament. I’m frankly surprised they are six point underdogs to a Southern Miss team that beat next to no one of note all season long, including an 0-3 resume against Memphis.
I think this line is reflective of the home court bias this season across college basketball. With so much parity, it seems more often than not whoever is at home wins the game, regardless of how “good” each respective team is. That could very well happen again tonight. Afterall, BYU lost at San Diego this season. But overall, their schedule was just so much better than Southern Miss. They’ve played Florida State, Baylor, Iowa State, Notre Dame, Gonzaga, St. Mary’s… and yes their record was dreadful in those games; often close games. I’ll still take that team-building experience over the creampuffs that filled Southern Miss’s record.
Free Pick: BYU Cougars +6