While the NCAA Tournament may be stealing all the limelight in college hoops over the past few weeks, the four NIT teams left in the semi finals of that tournament are still alive and hungry for a championship of their own. 

The Minutemen of Umass face off against Stanford for the right to play in the NIT title game at Madison Square Garden against the winner of the Minnesota / Washington game.

Stanford has opened in the college basketball odds as a -2 favorite, however, as of today; the Minutemen have seen most of the NCAA basketball betting action. The total for the game has been set at 149 points. See which side of the action I’m going to be one come Tuesday night. 

 

Minutemen March 

Umass has had upset after upset in the NIT so far, as they came into the tournament as a 5 seed. The Minutemen had a double overtime win over Mississippi State in the first round, followed by a ten point win over number one seeded Seton Hall, and then an epic two-point victory over a very good Drexel team. They have been through every type of game and scenario so far in this tournament, so they should be ready for Stanford, even as underdogs.

Chaz WilliamsUmass’ Chaz Williams has been on probably the hottest streak of his young career so far in the first three games of the NIT. He has averaged 22.6 points, 6.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 3.3 steals per game during the three game stretch. He is quite possibly one of the hottest college players still playing’ either in the NIT or in the big dance. 

Cardinal Proof 

Stanford finished 24-11 in the regular season, but had a bad showing in the PAC-12 during the regular season, only going 10-8 in the conference. This combined with their weak schedule landed them in the NIT for 2012. They almost didn’t make it there, either. The Cardinals beat Arizona State in the first round of the PAC-12 tourney, and then played eventual runner-up, Arizona tough all game in the second round, which helped them get an invitation to the NIT. 

Stanford had an extremely impressive win over Nevada in the NIT quarterfinals, as the won 84-56. The Cardinals got 15 points each from Josh Owens and Chasson Randle, and also got double digit scoring from Aaron Bright and Josh Huestis. The Cardinals shot 57% from beyond the arc, and made 14 out of 17 free throws in route to the victory. 

The Sharp Pick 

Umass has yet to be a favorite in this tournament, as they have won as seven-point underdogs each of their three games. Now that they are +2 underdogs, I’m still siding with the Minutemen in this spot. The Cardinals are not the offensive threat that the Minutemen are, and even though Umass struggles on defense, they have held two of their three NIT opponents under their points against average so far. I could see them even improving upon their defense in this higher profile game, and holding Stanford under 70 points. 

Even though Stanford is a good defensive team, I don’t think there is anyone who can slow down Chaz Williams right now. I think the Minutemen will continue covering as underdogs, and will probably come away with another victory Tuesday evening. 

My Pick: Minutemen +2