ATB: NIT EditionPosted by rtmsf on March 31st, 2010
NIT Semifinals. It’ll be two teams that expected to be playing in late March this season in the NIT finals on Thursday night; it’s just that they probably thought they’d be playing in the NCAA Tournament rather than the Granddaddy of postseason tourneys. With wins tonight, Dayton and UNC prove, however, that a disappointing regular season doesn’t have to mean that you pack it in if you’re invited to one of the lesser tourneys. If you’re Roy Williams or Brian Gregory, you keep playing the games in the hopes that your young players will benefit from the additional reps and learn about how to win games in a tournament setting. There’s a fair amount of precedent for this ultimately helping teams who made nice runs to the NIT finals in recent years (e.g., Baylor last year, Ohio State in 2008, WVU in 2007), so maybe we’ll see the Heels and Flyers back in the Dance next season.
- #3 Dayton 68, #2 Ole Miss 63. Brian Gregory is well on his way to becoming the next Dave Odom with his record moving to 6-1 in the NIT with two appearances in the last three seasons. Dayton got 22/10 from Marcus Johnson and 9/11/5 assts from Chris Wright despite the two combining to shoot 6-23 from the field. The team they defeated, Ole Miss, was eliminated in the semifinals for the second time in three years. Dayton will play North Carolina on Thursday night in a game that they’d surely like to win to improve the program’s standing.
- #4 UNC 68, #3 Rhode Island 67 (OT). Roy Williams’ team continues to gain valuable experience winning close games in a tournament setting, and his young players have the coach one step closer to his third ‘national championship’ as the top Heel. Deon Thompson had 16/13 and Will Graves 14/7 in a defensive-minded back-and-forth contest that was ultimately decided when URI’s Lamonte Ulmer was heading upcourt after a defensive rebound and was seemingly tripped by a Carolina player but there was no call. UNC will shoot for its second NIT title (1971) in program history on Thursday night.