March 26, 2012
The National Invitational Tournament has narrowed its field of 32 down to four schools that will congregate Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden in New York City for the event’s semifinals. The winners will collide Thursday night for the championship. Let’s take a look at Tuesday’s doubleheader.
**Massachusetts vs. Stanford**
--As of Monday afternoon, most betting shops were listing Stanford (24-11 straight up, 17-15 against the spread) as a 2 ½-point favorite with the total in the 149-150 range. Gamblers can take the Minutemen to win outright for a plus-125 return (risk $100 to win $125).
--UMass (25-11 SU, 19-13 ATS) had a tough path to MSG with each of its NIT games coming as a road underdog of six points or more. The Minutemen began its trek in Starkville, where it emerged from The Hump with a 101-96 win at Mississippi St. as a 7 ½-point underdog. Chaz Williams led the winners with 28 points, eight rebounds, six assists and three steals. Sean Carter added 20 points and 12 rebounds.
--After winning 77-67 at Seton Hall as six-point underdog, UMass won a 72-70 decision at Drexel as a 7 ½-point hound. The Minutemen trailed by as many as 17 points early in the second half before rallying to victory behind a 20-point effort from Williams, who knocked down 8-of-13 shots from the field. Terrell Vinson added 18 points with 14 of those coming in the second half when UMass shot better than 70-percent from the field.
--Stanford got to play all three of its previous NIT games at home in Palo Alto. The run for the Cardinal started with a 76-65 win over Cleveland St. as a six-point favorite. Aaron Bright scored a game-high 17 points, while Anthony Brown and Josh Owens added 15 points apiece.
--In the NIT second round, Johnny Dawkins’s squad needed overtime to sneak past Illinois St. by a 92-88 count as an 8 ½-point home ‘chalk.’ Bright played the game of his life with 29 points and six assists. The sophomore point guard made 11-of-13 shots from the field, draining 6-of-7 treys. Dwight Powell added 18 points and nine rebounds.
--Stanford advanced to MSG thanks to an 84-56 win over Nevada as a six-point favorite. Owens and Chasson Randle paced the Cardinal with 15 points apiece.
--Stanford owns a 9-6 spread record in 15 games as a single-digit favorite.
--UMass has been an underdog 14 times, going 7-7 ATS with six outright victories.
--The ‘over’ is 18-13-1 overall for UMass, 5-2-1 in its last eight games.
--The ‘over’ is 18-14 overall for Stanford, hitting in each of its last six games.
--Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPN2.
**Minnesota vs. Washington**
--Most books are listing Washington (24-10 SU, 17-15 ATS) as a one-point favorite with a total of 143.
--Minnesota (22-14 SU, 19-13-1 ATS) is playing outstanding basketball and has been treating its backers to nice payouts in recent weeks. Like UMass, the Gophers paved their way to NYC with three road wins. They won 78-72 at Middle Tennessee as 3 ½-point ‘dogs in the NIT quarterfinals. Rodney Williams’s stellar play continued with a 24-point effort on 8-of-11 shooting against the Blue Raiders. Andre Hollins also finished with 24 points, six rebounds and four assists.
--Tubby Smith’s team has won five of its last six games with the only loss coming to Michigan in overtime at the Big Ten Tournament. Even better, Minnesota is 7-0 ATS in its last seven outings.
--Minnesota won its NIT opener at LaSalle by a 70-61 count as a two-point underdog. Williams led the way with 21 points. During the Gophers’ three-game NIT run, Williams is averaging 22.0 points per game, making 26-of-38 from the floor (68%).
--Washington lost its regular-season finale at UCLA and its Pac-12 Tourney opener to Oregon St. to play its way off the bubble and into the NIT where it was tabbed as one of the four No. 1 seeds. The Huskies won all three of its NIT games at home, covering in the first two before failing to do so in their 90-86 quarterfinals victory over Oregon as five-point ‘chalk.’
--Terrence Ross has been the catalyst for UW, scoring a game-high 24 points in the win over the Ducks. Ross scored 32 points in the Huskies’ 76-55 win over Northwestern as five-point home favorites. He finished with 23 points in an 82-72 over Texas-Arlington in UW’s win as a 9 ½-point favorite.
--Ross is currently listed as the No. 18 pick in the first round of this upcoming NBA Draft if the sophomore decides to turn pro. As for Minnesota’s Williams, the junior forward is listed at No. 48 in the second round if he bolts early.
--Washington is 9-8 in 17 single-digit favorite situations. Meanwhile, Minnesota has covered the spread in seven straight underdog spots. For the season, the Gophers are 10-5 ATS with six outright wins as ‘dogs.
--Minnesota got good news over the weekend when the NCAA granted Trevor Mbakwe a sixth year of eligibility. He suffered a season-ending injury in November. Mbakwe was averaging 14.0 points and 9.1 rebounds per game through the Gophers’ first seven contests.
--The ‘over’ is 17-15-1 overall for Minnesota, going 5-1 in its last six games.
--Totals have been an overall wash for UW (16-16), but the ‘over’ is on a 6-3 run in the Huskies’ last nine games.