A champion will be crowned out in Maui when Gonzaga takes on Cincinnati on ESPN. Both teams played well in semifinal wins on Tuesday, and there are some intriguing matchups to be seen. Matt Bouldin and Steven Gray going up against Deonta Vaughn and Cashmere Wright, Yancy Gates and Robert Sacre banging inside and a pair of talented freshmen (Lance Stephenson and Elias Harris) can all be seen in this one. It may not be the star-studded field that we've become used to on the island but there are some teams in the Maui field with the potential to not only dance in March but to win a couple of games.
The NIT Season Tip-Off moves to the semifinal round at Madison Square Garden with the opener likely being the more competitive of the two games. LSU arrives in the Big Apple with a trio of perimeter players in Bo Spencer, Tasmin Mitchell and Storm Warren who can get the job done. The same goes for the Huskies, who boast Kemba Walker, Jerome Dyson and Stanley Robinson. Therefore look to the two frontcourts, and who gets more production from their bigs, for the answer in regards to who wins.
Duke takes on Arizona State in a battle of Devils (Blue and Sun) and they'll see a familiar face in Eric Boateng. He's going to see a Duke team that's deep up front with the likes of Kyle Singler, Brian Zoubek and Miles Plumlee. There are also a pair of games in Cancun on a floor that will have more hazards than any that the teams playing there will encounter the rest of the season. Kentucky, likely without Patrick Patterson (ankle), will take on a Stanford team that has trouble scoring outside of Landry Fields in the nightcap. It could get out of hand.
You might as well watch some hoops while prepping for your feast on Thursday.
Colorado vs. Chaminade (Maui) - 2PM - ESPNU
Maryland vs. Wisconsin (Maui) - 4:30PM - ESPN2
Sacred Heart @ Penn State - 6PM - BTN
LSU vs. #13 UConn (NIT) - 7PM - ESPN2
Arizona vs. #24 Vanderbilt (Maui) - 7PM - ESPNU
Virginia vs. Cleveland State (Cancun) - 7PM - CBS C
Arizona State vs. #7 Duke (NIT) - 9PM - ESPN2
Stanford vs. #5 Kentucky (Cancun) - 9:30PM - CBS C
Cincinnati vs. Gonzaga (Maui) - 10PM - ESPN
Sam Houston St. vs. Rider (Cancun) - 4PM
Niagara @ Mount St. Mary's - 7PM
Duquesne vs. Western Carolina - 7:30PM
Oakland @ #1 Kansas - ESPN 360 - 8PM
Wyoming @ Denver - 9PM
San Diego State @ Pacific - 10PM
Holy Cross @ UNLV - 10PM
Oklahoma vs. San Diego (Great Alaska Shootout) - 1:45AM
Gonzaga over Cincinnati: This will be a close game but I like the Bulldogs because of the fact that they can match up with the Bearcats with Robert Sacre inside. Bol Kong adds depth to the frontcourt and they've also got a lot of scoring ability on the wings with Steven Gray, Matt Bouldin and Elias Harris. The key for Gonzaga will be foul trouble; Cincinnati is a deeper team overall and if Sacre is saddled with a couple of early fouls it could spell doom.