Overall, I think the NIT selection committee did a great job this season. Sure, they had a penchant for over seeding teams from a fake BCS conference (the Pac-12) and they put La Salle into the bracket, but charged with picking 21 at-larges after 11 bids got ripped away they did a pretty good job. Here are the four biggest issues I have with the bracket and then just two be nice two things I appreciated.
NIT Bracketology: March 11
Here we are once again. Selection Sunday is upon us. For this bracket I did a complete scrub of all the seeds. I also started taking into account the fact that some major conference teams can make offers to host that the NCAA just can’t turn down. In the back of my head the Iowa quote about making a competitive offer keeps coming up. The Hawkeyes are definitely in the field in my opinion — they just have so many good wins it’d be hard to turn them down — but for the first time I have them playing Round 1 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Iona’s non-conference opponents are helping the Gaels
There are two blemishes on Iona’s record right now. The first was in the Gaels’ opening game of the season on a last-second shot by the brilliant Robbie Hummel, which gave Purdue a 91-90 win. The second though was a little more worrisome. Iona fell 82-63 to Marshall in Huntington, W.V. after getting pounded on the boards. At the time that loss looked like it might seriously hinder any chance the Gaels had at an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, but as the season gone on it has begun to look better and better.
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Assist Tracker: Dec. 19
Damier Pitts (G, Marshall) — Pitts had a double-double with 19 points and 11 assists in the Thundering Herd’s 87-86 victory over Belmont. DeAndre Kane scored 29 points to lead Marshall and six of Pitts’ 11 assists went to him. Also, seven of those 11 assists were for layups.
Grant Gibbs (G, Creighton) — It’s easy to get assists when you’ve got one of the most prolific scorers in the NCAA on your team. That’s what Gibbs has to work with in Doug McDermott. Against Tulsa on Monday Gibbs had 10 assists. Seven of those assists went to McDermott. Two of Gregory Echenique’s four made baskets came from Gibbs.
Eric Atkins (G, Notre Dame) — Atkins’ nine assists against Sacred Heart came in the Fighting Irish’s 106-65 victory and he distributed them pretty evenly. There were three layups, two jumpers and four threes. Both of Alex Dragicevich’s threes came from Atkins assists.
Keith Appling (G, Michigan State) — Two of Appling’s eight assist in the Spartans’ 89-54 win went to Draymond Green, who also had seven of his own. Appling had three assists for threes. Two of them went to Brandon Wood.
Draymond Green (F, Michigan State) — None of Green’s six assists went to Appling, but he did have two to Wood and two to Branden Dawson. I find it interesting that just one of his six assists was for a three. I’d expect a post player like Green to be passing for assists, but he’s hitting cutters in the lane.
Kendall Marshall (G, North Carolina) — Marshall upped his dunk percentage in Monday’s 99-49 victory over Nicholls State. Four of his seven assists went for dunks. That’s probably the advantage of playing a team like Colonels. I believe this is the first game this season that Marshall didn’t have an assist on a jumper.
Tyshawn Taylor (G, Kansas) — Last Sunday Taylor had knee surgery. Today he was playing in Kansas’ 80-74 loss to Davidson. He had seven assists (and five turnovers) in his first game back. Those assists went to three people: Thomas Robinson (3), Elijah Johnson (2) and Jeff Withey (2). I’d really like to watch this one on ESPN3 replay if possible and see if the turnovers were committed while trying to pass to one of them, especially because Robinson and Withey are true post guys.
Thoughts from Iona’s loss to Marshall
Thankfully it’s too early to even start thinking about at-large berths to the NCAA Tournament. Even after Iona’s difficult 82-63 loss at Marshall the Gaels are still the MAAC favorite. If something was to happen in the tournament then all bets would be off.