The NIT Season Tip-Off Tournament see some of the countrys finest go head to head. Who are college basketballs odd makers favoring to take home the early season title?
The NIT Season Tip-Off certainly gives four teams the best
shot for the trip to Madison Square Garden, but it's no guarantee this year's
top quartet will get there as in other tournaments. Stillman
College and Metro
State could ultimately pull off an
upset of Chaminade-esque proportions, but will more likely join 10 others as
glorified scrimmages for the four hosts who are expected to arrive in New York City over the
The potential is certainly there for a Final Four matchup in
late November. Duke headlines the event
with the Arizona Wildcats expected to meet the Blue Devils in the championship
game. The Blue Devils and Wildcats are
each favored to with their conferences with +175 prices on the NCAA basketball odds, Duke also sporting 8/1 odds to win the 2014 NCAA Men's Championship while Arizona checks in at
Alabama and Rutgers complete the four regional hosts in the NIT
Tip-Off, with that action commencing November 18.
Coach K & Blue
Devils Reload For Another Run
Reaching the Elite Eight is quite an accomplishment for most
schools and coaches. But for Mike
Krzyzewski and Duke, doing so in 2012-13 was something of a
disappointment. The Duke Blue Devils were
ranked second in the country when they bowed out of the ACC Tournament after
just one game, and like that loss to Maryland, it was cold shooting from
outside that cost them in an 85-63 setback to Louisville in the Elite Eight,
the Cardinals laying 3.5 in that game.
The top three scorers are gone from last year's squad, and
the two tough holes to fill will be in the frontcourt where Mason Plumlee and
Ryan Kelly are missing. That is where
Marshall Plumlee and Amile Jefferson will have to make huge strides and stay
healthy to man the posts.
Duke did bring in forward Jabari Parker, part
of our One-&-Done discussion earlier this week, but the heralded
freshman isn't going to replace the big bodies of Mason Plumlee and Kelly. Two players who sat out last year, 3-point
sniper Andre Dawkins and Rodney Hood, will be key, plus the development of
freshmen Matt Jones and Semi Ojeleye.
In the South Region of this year's NIT Tip-Off, the Blue Devils
host UNC-Asheville for starters before meeting the winner of the Norfolk
State-East Carolina game.
Are Wildcats For Real
All things pointed to Arizona
making a big splash last season, Sean Miller's fourth at the helm. A 14-0 start had the Wildcats ranked fourth
in the country, but that was the high
'Cats finished the regular season 11-6 and were just barely in the top 25 come
NCAA Tournament time when they lost a tough 73-70 contest to 2nd-seeded Ohio
State in the West Sweet 16.
This year's team should be better, and a Final Four
appearance is definitely in Arizona's
reach despite having only one starter back. Point guard Nick Johnson is that returnee after averaging over 11 points
and more than three assists in 2012-13. The
Wildcats will have Kaleb Tarczewski clogging the lanes with a year under his
belt and a little more beef on his 7-foot frame. But it's freshman forwards Rondae
Hollis-Jefferson and Aaron Gordon, along with sophomore Brandon Ashley, who
could turn this team into a national champ.
One big key will be finding backcourt help for Johnson. Arizona
travels to face San Diego State early before hosting the NIT Tip-Off West
Regional; Farleigh Dickinson will get the first crack at the Wildcats, followed
by either Metro State
or what could be a pesky Rhode Island
Toughest Challenge For Duke, Arizona
Rutgers should make it to New York, but this isn't a very good team
that former Scarlet Knights player Eddie Jordan inherited for his first year on
the job. Jordan has done a great job by all
accounts following the scandalous end to Mike Rice's tenure as head coach, but
it's a tough task having to replace a depleted roster with juco transfers and
last minute recruiting.
The Scarlet Knights should sail past Canisius in their NIT
Tip-Off opener at home, but they will likely have to face a fairly tough Drexel
team in the next game, assuming the Dragons can get past Elon. Bruiser Flint
has an experienced Dragons backcourt to fall back on, and it would not surprise
me to see Drexel playing at Madison
on Thanksgiving Eve.
Alabama presents the
biggest hurdle for either Duke or Arizona. The Crimson Tide are lurking behind Kentucky
and Florida as 8/1 picks on the NCAA odds to win the SEC, and head coach
Anthony Grant knows he's always got a chance with senior guard Trevor Releford
on the floor. This is an experienced
'Bama squad overall, with forwards Rodney Cooper and Nick Jacobs back, giving
Grant time to work in big freshman Jimmie Taylor.
The Tide is going to start the season without Levi Randolph
who is nursing a sore knee, so his status throughout November is a question
starts its region with a matchup vs. Stillman before taking on either Georgia State
or McNeese State.
I'm liking Arizona
overall at this time, just think this is the year for the Wildcats to lead the
Pac-12 and go deep in the NCAA Tournament. We'll be back with game previews and free NCAA basketball picks once the Nit
Tip-Off cranks up.