National Invitational Tournament (NIT) Preview
Who Can End the Season With a Win?
After Greg Gumbel read off the final matchup during the Bracket Selection Show, the dreams of making the NCAA Tournament were dashed for many teams around the country. Some that didn’t get the call may have been more shocking than others but disappointing nonetheless. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the end of the line for those seniors , however, as the 2023 NIT Tournament, still one of college basketball major events, provides a shot at redemption.
Assessing the Top Seeds
Rutgers was one of those teams that anxiously awaited to hear whether or not they would get the nod to compete in the dance. That call never came. For the Scarlet Knights, it was their defense that got them as far as they did. The Big 10 was deep this year and they still managed to have the No. 5 defense in the country, according to KenPom.
Using those same rankings, Rutgers had a better chance at making the tournament as an at-large than a handful of other teams. That suffocating defense will host Hofstra in the first round.
Oklahoma State fits a similar bill. Looking at college basketball team stats can prove insightful. The Cowboys rank 38 on the KenPom rankings, as well as the 12th-best defense, and for good reason. They played in arguably the toughest conference in the country this season and had some impressive showings along the way.
The part about Oklahoma State’s resume that likely deterred the committee from giving them an at-large bid was the fact that they stumbled to the finish line. After an impressive seven-day stretch in which they earned wins over TCU and Iowa State, they proceeded to drop the next five games, all against teams that made the tournament.
To many, Oregon might have seemed like an afterthought. After all, the Pac-12 was essentially a two-team race between UCLA and Arizona in both the regular season and in the conference tournament. So it came as little surprise when it was UCLA versus Arizona in the Pac-12 Championship game. According to KenPom, Oregon had a better net rating than teams like Northwestern, Nevada, Providence and Mississippi State.
While they were not superior on either end of the floor like Rutgers and Oklahoma State, they were in the top 75 in both his adjusted offense and adjusted defense categories.
Coming in as the final No. 1 seed is the Clemson Tigers. If you had never watched this group play until their ACC Tournament game against N.C. State, you would’ve walked away thinking they were one of the best teams in the country.
Clemson spreads you out and uses their shooting ability from all five positions to cause headaches for opposing defenses. It’s not out of the question that Clemson could walk away as the winner of the NIT.
Who Else Can Make Noise?
Surely, the 2023 NIT Tournament isn’t where Hunter Dickinson thought he’d be at the end of the season for Michigan. Now it just comes down to motivation.
Will the Michigan Wolverines be upset that they’re even there after not making the dance? Or will they be able to put those feelings aside to try and finish the season on a high note after a disappointing campaign? Looking at you North Carolina.
The Liberty Flames sat atop the Atlantic Sun most of the season, but were defeated by Kennesaw State in the final. Liberty is led by Darius McGhee at the two guard spot. He led the team in scoring at 22.5 points per game and shot an impressive 87.8% from the free-throw line and 39.9% from three. Four out of Liberty’s five starters shoot over 38% from three, so don’t be surprised to see Liberty make a run.
UAB could be the fan favorite entering the NIT. Jordan “Jelly” Walker was one of the most prolific scorers in basketball this year, averaging 23.4 ppg while shooting 85.7% from the free-throw line and 39.7% from three.
The Blazers ultimately fell short of making the tournament after falling to Florida Atlantic University in the Conference USA championship game. It’s a shame Jelly Walker won’t be playing in the big dance, but Walker is here to show that the Blazers are legit.
NIT Outright Odds
Rutgers enters the 2023 NIT Tournament as the favorite to win at +700. Oklahoma State is close behind at +850. The odds take a turn from there though, as Michigan, a No. 2 seed, is tied with Oklahoma State. North Texas, another two seed, sits at +900.
The oddsmakers must’ve liked what they saw from UAB down the stretch of the season, as they’re next on the odds board at +1200 odds board with Oregon. A big factor in the odds is simply motivation.
That may sound simple, but in the NIT it’s true. Teams like Rutgers, Oklahoma State and Michigan could be deflated after falling short of the tournament, especially all having solid cases as to why they should have made it over other teams. Teams like UAB and North Texas have a more difficult time trying to earn at-large bids. They now have the chance to correct their perception.
Clemson at +1500 has value, but they fit the mold of what was mentioned above in regards to motivation. Liberty at +2900 has hedge potential, as do Bradley and Cincinnati at +4800. While the NIT may not have the magic and excitement of March Madness, it’s still high-level basketball. Check back right here for important NCAAB teams stats, and current betting lines. (Odds change frequently, be sure to check for the most up to date changes.)Follow us on Twitter
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