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CBB: Preseason NIT Semifinals (7:00 PM ET, ESPN2)

CBB: Preseason NIT Semifinals (7:00 PM ET, ESPN2)



CBB: Preseason NIT Semifinals (7:00 PM ET, ESPN2)

The crown jewel of all the college basketball preseason tournaments is the NIT. Played in four different regions


2008-11-25

The crown jewel of all the college basketball preseason tournaments is the NIT. Played in four different regions, 16 teams have been narrowed down to four. The semifinals of this prestigious bracket are played at Madison Square Garden in downtown New York and scheduled for Wednesday night. In the first of the doubleheader games on ESPN2, Boston College meets Purdue, to be followed up by UAB and Oklahoma. Tip time for game one is set for 7:00 PM ET. Here is a quick look at both contests.

Boston College vs. Purdue
One of the strange things about the preseason NIT tournament is that it takes place over the course of two weeks. Because of this, most of the teams schedule other non-conference games in the interim. Such was the case for Boston College, who actually suffered its first defeat of the season Saturday at Saint Louis, 53-50. The Eagles come into this showdown with Purdue at 3-1 SU & 2-1 ATS. Their most impressive victory came over St. Johns, 82-70, the game that enabled them to advance to New York.

The Eagles finished next to the bottom of the conference last year, the #11 seed in the ACC Tourney. Overall they were 14-17 but tanked losing 13 of their final 15 games. However, they returned four starters from that team and figure to be improved in virtually every area. Guard Tyrese Rice (16.7 ppg) is their best player and logged over 34 mintues per game so far. Transfer Joe Trapani, not to be confused with Joey Tribiani, is second on the team with 14.5 PPG. Another up and comer for head coach Al Skinner is So. 6-5 Rakim Sanders, 11.0 ppg, who seems primed for a big step forward. C Corey Raji is the Eagles’ leading rebounder and other double-digit scorer.

Skinner’s teams have historically thrived on the road in the toughest of circumstances:

• Skinner is 18-6 ATS (+11.4 Units) in road games versus very good defensive teams - shooting pct defense of <=39% as the coach of BOSTON COLLEGE. The average score was BOSTON COLLEGE 67.4, OPPONENT 72.6 - (Rating = 2*)

Purdue has been very impressive in its 4-0 SU & 3-0 ATS start, outscoring opponents by 28.3 PPG. However, the Boilermakers have not been favored by less than 18 PPG yet and this figures to be their toughest test to date. Besides being 30-16 ATS as a favorite, HC Matt Painter’s team boast this impressive betting angle:

• Painter is 25-11 ATS (+12.9 Units) versus good 3 point shooting teams - making >=37% of their attempts in all games he has coached since 1997. The average score was Painter 67.3, OPPONENT 66.1 - (Rating = 1*)

All five starters returned for Painter this season from last year’s surprise club. The Boilermakers have the only returning member of the first team All-Big Ten, So. Robbie Hummel, 16.3 ppg, 5.8 rpg. ’07-08 team MVP, Jr. PG Keaton Grant, is averaging 8.0 PPG. 6-3 Chris Kramer was Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year last season. G E’Twaun Moore, 14.8 ppg, is Purdue’s second leading scorer.

UAB vs. Oklahoma
The night cap of the doubleheader features a rapidly ascending UAB team taking on Oklahoma. The Blazers got here by virtue of a 72-71 upset of Arizona, a game gift-wrapped for them by a last second intentional foul blunder by the Wildcats. Even still, Mike Davis’ team is very talented and is the overall consensus #2 pick in Conference USA this season behind perennial power Memphis. UAB is 4-0 SU & 3-1 ATS having yet to play a game at home.

Four starters returned from the 23-11 UAB team of ’07-08. The Blazers strength is in the backcourt with 6-5 Robert Vaden, (21.1 ppg, finished #2 in the nation in 3-pointers made) and Sr. G Paul Delaney, who missed last year after being named Pre-Season All-C-USA.

Oklahoma is led by all-everything big man Blake Griffin. In the Sooners’ 4-0 start, he is averaging 26.0 PPG and 19.8 RPG and has elevated his status in the national player of the year race. A big showing this week in front of a national TV audience and Madison Square Garden crowd would help. Griffin isn’t alone though, as Oklahoma has also gotten a strong start from G Willie Warren, averaging 15.3 PPG.

The Sooners road to New York was certainly not an easy one, as they had to overcome a 40+ point effort from Davidson star Stephen Curry to get here. They also have since played a feisty Gardner Webb club, winning 80-76 on Saturday. This will be the first road contest for HC Jeff Capel’s club.

Pick: Oklahoma vs. UAB: UAB is a rapidly improving team under Mike Davis and should be the #2 team in Conference USA this season, but let’s face it, the Blazers are extremely fortunate to be playing at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday. Only egregious mental mistakes by a team prone for such errors enabled UAB to reach this high profile stage. Meanwhile, Oklahoma had to turn back one of the nation’s toughest foes in Davidson to get here. The Sooners were tested and prevailed. They boast perhaps the nation’s best rebounding big man in Blake Griffin. That could prove a problem for Davis’ club as UAB is 0-6 ATS (-6.6 Units) in road games versus good rebounding teams - outrebounding opponents by 4+ per game over the last 2 seasons. The average score was UAB 61.3, OPPONENT 78.2 - (Rating = 1*). The average score of that trend is scary and could mean a relatively easy win for OU here.



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