-Butler knocked off Notre Dame, but that was really the only shocker in the NIT so far. They will face Indiana tomorrow in the quarterfinals in Indianapolis for a chance to advance to the semifinals in Madison Square Garden. Indiana had some trouble with Lafayette, but pulled away late in the second half. Notre Dame will face Lafayette in the consolation game. The Irish continue their impressive streak of losing games by less than five points. Butler won by just two last night. Butler vs Indiana should be exciting. Its in Market Square Arena and both teams fans should be well represented.
-Tennessee and Fordham had more turnovers than field goals, but thats what happens when two young teams who run the floor get together in November. It was an exciting game, but Tennessee held on to win. It would have been a great win for Fordham because they havent had a winning season since 1992. However, they have improved significantly over the past two years and a win over a ranked team that would have paired them against the winner of UNC Wilmington or Belmont to advance to the semifinals of the NIT would have been huge, especially when you consider that the semis are held in their home city. As it turns out, Tennessee will face UNCW, who knocked off Belmont in a close game.
-Other opening NIT round games tonight are North Carolina vs Sacred Heart. They will face the winner of Winthrop vs Iona. Winthrop could be good enough to push for an at large bid, but theyll need an impressive showing out of conference to do it. Chances are theyll be way overmatched against North Carolina, but they are still a good team. Those games are being played in Charlotte.
-Gonzaga also faces Rice, who is an up and coming team. Gonzaga appears to have successfully reloaded and a good showing in this tournament will be a statement that they are back. Rice could give them a game though. They have an outstanding player in Morris Almond. The winner of that will get the winner of Baylor vs Colorado State.
-Arkansas Little Rock upset Akron, which is bad for Akron because it denies them the chance to take on some quality competition and get some good wins for their NCAA profile. They will face Gardner Webb in the consolation game, but that isnt the kind of victory they need to make a profile for themselves. UALR will take on Texas Tech, who struggled with Gardner Webb, but pulled away at the end.
-Marquette is ranked #17, but they are playing like the #217th team right now. Idaho State took them to overtime, but came up just short. This is just days after they struggled to beat a div2 team. They will face Detroit in the quarterfinals, who advanced by beating Maine. Detroit is not a top 25 caliber team by a long shot, but they are better than anyone else Marquette has beaten. If the Golden Eagles dont get it together Detroit will be representing their region in the semifinals.
-Duke got by Georgia Southern to be the first team to advance to the semifinals of this tournament. For some reason, DirecTV did not get a feed of the game until the end of the first half. They missed the best half. Georgia Southern stayed right with Duke until halftime, but after that the Blue Devils really opened it up.
-Stanford faces San Jose State and Air Force takes on Long Beach State. The winners will face each other in the quarterfinals. This is a HUGE opportunity for Air Force. They have a good team and should be one of the better teams in the Mountain West, but they have a problem with not having a whole lot of opportunities to earn statement wins. This tournament is definitely an opportunity if they can advance deep into it. An early exit will deny them that, and that would be devastating because they dont have many more throughout the rest of the year.
BASKETBALL TRAVELERS CLASSIC AT WASHINGTON
-Washington has blown out Nicholls State and Pepperdine. Northern Iowa has done the same. The two will face each other tonight in what should actually be a good game between two potential tournament teams. Northern Iowa lost a lot from last season, but they appear to be playing well despite that and can really get a good win on their resume if they pull this off.
OTHER HIGHLIGHTED MATCHUPS
-WAKE FOREST AT BUCKNELL. Wake Forest had all kinds of trouble with James Madison in their opener, but escaped with a win, which is big for a team thats trying to rebuild itself. Bucknell lost a hard fought road game to Albany, but is still capable of building up the kind of resume they need to be considered an at large team. Winning this game would be big because it looks as though Wake will turn out to be a marginal bubble team at best. Still, its early, and a win for Wake would be big as well because its a road win against a good team.
-WESTERN KENTUCKY AT GEORGIA. This is a hugely important early season game for both teams. Western KY is one of the better teams in the Sun Belt, but winning that tournament is never easy so building a profile that would earn them an at large would be huge. This is a big game on the road against a Georgia team who could very easily end up being in the NCAA Tournament, so this would be just the kind of win WKU would need. Its a good game for Georgia as well, because WKU will probably win a lot of games this year and help boost their RPI. Western Kentucky also has Florida, Southern Illinois and Tennessee, so it isnt their last opportunity at a quality win, but its one of the best ones they have. Chances are theyll be way overmatched by Florida. Unfortunately, Western KY isnt playing in the Bracket Buster, which would have probably helped them out if they were in it.
-COLORADO AT NEW MEXICO. Both teams won their season opener. Both are projected to be below tournament caliber, but this would be a nice win for either team. New Mexico plays in the Mountain West, which is better overall than it was a season ago, so they could get a good look if they do well in conference play. Colorado, of course, plays in the Big Twelve and will have plenty of opportunities for big wins as well.
-SOUTH CAROLINA AT UC IRVINE. South Carolina won their first game, and plays an unusual OOC road game against UC Irvine. The Gamecocks need a strong beginning and middle of the season to go along with their strong finishes. That way theyll be playing in the NCAA Tournament rather than the NIT.
-EASTERN WASHINGTON AT UNLV. Eastern Washington was blown out by Gonzaga in their season opener, but they could still end up having a very good year, especially once they get into conference play. UNLV is looking to improve to 2-0.
-NORTH FLORIDA AT FLORIDA. A huge mismatch. Ill leave it at that.
-LOUISIANA LAFAYETTE AT MISSISSIPPI. Ole Miss can improve to 2-0 with a win.
-DELAWARE STATE AT PITTSBURGH. This is the official home opener for Pitt. They defeated Western Michigan in the Maggie Dixon Classic, but that was played on Armys campus.
-Harvard defeated Maine 75-71 in their season opener. This must have really impressed one of the AP voters because Harvard received a top 25 vote. This is a good win for Harvard, but it hardly warrants top 25 consideration. Then again, Maine is much better than the teams Marquette has faced and they are ranked #17 despite the fact they are lucky the arent 0-2.
-Vermont completely dominated #14 Boston College 77-63. Vermont looks to be a promising team that should make a whole lot of noise in the America East, but they had previously lost to Maryland in rather convincing fashion. Today they won in rather convincing fashion. They have Drexel at home this weekend, which is their only home game between now and December 10th. In the meantime they travel to Michigan State, Wagner, Towson and Delaware. Other than Michigan State, they should win all of those and have a ton of momentum going into conference play. The America East appears to have two teams that could really shock some people in both Vermont and Albany. Dont believe me?? Just ask Boston College. Its a shame they fell apart in the second half against Maryland because a win would have put them in the semifinals of the Coaches vs Cancer Classic along with Saint Johns, Michigan State and Texas.
This does raise the question of how good Maryland is because they did beat Vermont with relative ease. I guess well find out in the semifinals of this tournament.
-Northern Arizona bounced back from their blowout loss to Kansas by knocking off Arizona State on the road 75-71. They will face Arizona on Wednesday night, who lost their opener to Virginia. After that things get a little bit easier and they should be favored in nearly all their games between now and the end. If they can clean house in the Big Sky and avoid any losses to poor RPI teams out of conference they could be in the at large picture come March. They are certainly good enough.