(ed. note: if you’re looking for the 2009 NIT Bracket, click here.)
The Preseason NIT, the Granddaddy of all the Preseason Tourneys, begins tonight, with all sixteen teams in action at four regional pods (Chestnut Hill, MA; W. Lafayette, IN; Norman, OK; Tucson, AZ). Unlike many of the D2 and whatever-else teams thrown into the pods of the CvC last week, the PNIT at least uses all D1 teams for its sacrificial lambs. A new feature is that each of the sixteen teams was seeded, although we’re not sure how BC and Arizona ended up with protected seeds over Davidson (also, why isn’t #1 Purdue playing #16 Miss. Valley St., and #2 v. #15, etc.?). We suppose BC fans would buy more tickets in Manhattan next week? Whichever. Below is the regional bracket, and our thoughts and picks follow.
Best first-round game. #8 St. John’s v. #9 Cornell. You don’t think that Big Red is looking forward to sticking it to their Big East brethren to the south? Click here if you don’t believe us. These two NY teams have never played, but we’re thinking that Cornell will ride its three-point shooting to the upset win in Chestnut Hill tonight.
Other Upset Possibilities. Keep an eye on these two games in the Tucson regional:
- #3 Arizona v. #15 Florida Atlantic. Nobody has a clue how Arizona is going to respond to all of its turmoil from the offseason, or whether half of its players will even be available tonight (apparently so), but if there’s one thing we’ve learned about college basketball and despite trite cliches to the contrary - adversity generally does NOT end well. New FAU head coach Mike Jarvis knows how to coach up a team for one game, and this could be a rude awakening for Russ Pennell as a D1 coach.
- #7 UAB v. #11 Santa Clara. The recipe for an upset here is clear. WCC talent is generally underrated. This is a west-coast team playing an east-coast team in the Pacific time zone. John Bryant inside the paint. Robert Vaden may still be feeling the effects from his recent arrest hanging over his head (4 pts last game on 2-13 FGs). UAB head coach Mike Davis has been known to lay an egg or two in his career. UAB will have no answer for Santa Clara big man
Will MVSU Break 30? #2 Oklahoma v. #16 Mississippi Valley St. Knowing what we know about Oklahoma’s defense, and knowing also what we know about MVSU’s inability to score the basketball, we foresee something along the lines of 75-35 in this game.
They Should Roll. BC at home v. Loyola (MD). Purdue at home vs. Eastern Michigan. And Davidson in Norman vs. James Madison. No way any of these three loses tonight.
Two Evenly Matched Bad Teams. #6 Georgia v. #10 Loyola (IL). Wow, the PNIT should commend itself for getting two Loyola into this tournament. Was Loyola Marymount not available? No further comment on this game, other than to say either team could win, and Purdue will blast said winner tomorrow night.
Regional Picks. We’ve got BC, Purdue, Davidson and Santa Clara (taking advantage of the FAU upset). We really didn’t want to pick against Oklahoma at home, but then again, how do you justify picking against Stephen Curry? If the Wildcats can contain Blake Griffin inside, they can win that game and head to MSG.
Enough with ESPNU!!!! Three of the four televised games tonight in this tournament are on the U. Look, we understand why the games are on there. But why not also put them on the ESPN Full Court package so that those of us held completely hostage by our cable companies can actually take advantage of those games as well? We already pay for the FC service, so what possible harm could it do to expose more paying customers to your product? Make us pay $10 if you like, but just give us access to it!