NIT Finals: Penn St. Defeats Baylor (aka We’re #66!)

Posted by rtmsf on April 3rd, 2009

Ray Floriani of College Chalktalk is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and NEC conferences.  He occasionally finds himself at various other venues throughout the Northeast, including the NIT Finals on Thursday night.

NEW YORK CITY – They started about 5:15. A sea of blue and mostly white. They chanted ‘we are, Penn State’. They headed to Madison Square Garden for the NIT championship. The Baylor team filed in the player’s entrance. Politely focusing on the task and graciously acknowledging ‘good luck’ and well wishers.


The Garden was filling with white, a white out game one fan said. Mike and Rachel, two Penn State undergrads, report 35 buses made the trip from Happy Valley. For twenty dollars you had round trip fare and admission. A steal and 15 dollars less than I paid to park.


Baylor drew first blood with a four point halftime lead. The first few minutes of the second half, Jamelle Cornley establishes a paint presence and Penn State is tied. Three straight threes, two by Danny Morrissey, give the Nittany Lions a nine point lead midway through the second half. A lead they won’t surrender en route to a 69-63 NIT title. Their first.

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The NIT Semifinals and Random Encounters

Posted by nvr1983 on April 1st, 2009

Ray Floriani of College Chalk Talk is a contributing writer for Rush the Court.

By Ray Floriani

NEW YORK CITY – First the primary items. Baylor defeated San Diego State 76-62 and Penn State held on for a 67-59 win over Notre Dame in the NIT semifinals at Madison Square Garden.

The final numbers….


What Baylor did to get to Thursday…Shoot the ball. They literally attacked on the perimeter going an unbelievable 11 of 22 from beyond the arc. LaceDarius Dunn had 23 points including 6 of 9 from three. Baylor’s Curtis Jerrells paced all scorers with 25. Jerrells is a problem for defenses as he is a deft penetrator as well as a perimeter threat. Baylor defended , in three NIT games their defensive PPP was over 1.00, largely be forcing 19 turnovers.


What Penn State did well… Defend and hold on. The first half Notre Dame had a .58 PPP and eFG mark of 26%. The Irish missed shots but credit the tough Penn State defense. The second half ND found the range and Luke Harangody (17 points) came alive. The Irish had what was almost a twenty-point deficit, down to a two possession game in the stretch. Penn State never lost the lead largely due to a big Jamelle Cornley (16 points) jumper with just under four to play.

The fans God love them…We are on the baseline press table. Myself and press row neighbor Jeff Bernstein, a former coach, who loves to talk strategy, get into a conversation with a Baylor fan Ryan Lindsey. He’s here in New York with his wife and young son. Turns out he coached ‘select ball’ AAU in Texas terms and noted, “the worst beatings we got were facing Blake Griffin’s teams when he was in high school. That kid was and is unstoppable.”

The conversation ran the gamut from John Calipari going to Kentucky to what happens at Memphis. Coaching openings were pondered until Scott occasionally gets up to holler “sit down Fisher if Freider didn’t leave you’d be at Ann Arbor junior high” in reference to the San Diego State coach who was disagreeing with the officials.

Scott is knowledgeable about schools and conferences around the nation. He tells us the Texas basketball job is a plum. “They pay over 2 million and just don’t want you to embarrass the school.” Translated, football rules.

The discussion goes on. Baylor is puling away and Scott and family have a few more nights in the Big Apple. “We need to go eat,” he says. “What will ten dollars get us? A pretzel?” he adds laughing. Waco is home but he knows the score in New York.

Finally Jeff says, “St. John’s has to get you on the schedule so you can get back to MSG and visit.” Scott says, “we would love it but out of conference Baylor plays ‘directional’ schools and SWAC schools. We had so many SWAC wins we expected their automatic to the NCAA play in.”

The buzzer sounds Baylor wins. “See you on Thursday”, Scott and his wife say. Undoubtedly they are fully enjoying the moment. As other Baylor faithful are.

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2009 NIT Bracket

Posted by rtmsf on March 16th, 2009

We’ve been getting a ton of interest in this bracket today, so we’re putting one on the site.  Might as well…


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Mr. March Headed to the NIT

Posted by nvr1983 on March 8th, 2009

We may have just seen Stephen Curry‘s last meaningful college basketball game. That may shock those of you who don’t follow college basketball religiously, but when the rest of the nation joins us in our college basketball obsession on next Sunday at 6 PM don’t expect to see Davidson among the teams selected on the CBS Selection Show. Sure we may get a cut-in to see Bob McKillop and the Wildcats sitting in a conference room with forlorn looks on their faces, but they just lost their shot at making another miraculous run when they lost to the College of Charleston for a second time this season ending their run in the Southern Conference tournament.

Mr. March Will Have to Settle For MSG, Not Detroit

Mr. March Will Have to Settle For MSG, Not Detroit

Now you may hear some pundits (read: Joe Lunardi and Andy Katz) say that Davidson deserves a bid given their tough non-conference schedule and their run last, which should be irrelevant). I’m sure that the CBS executives are secretly hoping that Davidson gets a bid as Curry would be ratings gold to the casual college basketball fan. While I won’t argue with the fact that Davidson played an incredibly tough non-conference schedule for a Southern Conference team, the reality is that they lost almost all of those games. Their only win (on the road over West Virginia) looks great on paper, but a closer looks reveals that the Mountaineers did not have Alex Ruoff that day and his replacement Joe Mazzulla only played 6 minutes (both due to shoulder injuries). Outside of that game, Davidson doesn’t have a win against a team in the top 50 in the RPI (1-4 overall) with losses against Oklahoma, Purdue, Duke, and Butler. While the Wildcats played Oklahoma close in Norman, they lost, which at the end of the day is what matters.

As it stands today, the Wildcats were only 68th in the RPI prior to their loss tonight. They now have 3 “bad losses” (to teams outside the RPI top 100) after losing to the College of Charleston twice and the Citadel. I’m not sure how the committee will treat the Citadel loss because Curry was injured, but it probably won’t matter. When you add in the fact that their strength of schedule is only 173rd nationally you have a team that’s new goal should be making a trip to Madison Square Garden. Maybe Curry should keep his head up high. He may be auditioning for his future employer.

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