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In that "other" tournament, the Wichita State Shockers defeated the Alabama Crimson Tide 66-57 in New York last night to win the NIT title.
For a full recap of the game here is a link to the story on Yahoo! Sports.
There was a time when the NIT was bigger than the NCAAs, in the same way, I suppose, that amateur golf was bigger than pro golf. Maybe it was that the venue for the Finals was in the Big Apple, where everything is magnified.
The NIT has, of course, taken the back seat as of late. But that is not to say that there is not something in it worth fighting for.
Trust me, Cleveland State and Kent State wish they had been in Madison Square Garden last night.
The 2011 NIT Basketball Tournament is reaching a climax, with the NIT Final Four taking place in Madison Square Garden. Two of the teams in the final group believe they should be playing in another tournament right now but want to make the most of their NIT appearance.
That was the stage tonight when the Colorado Buffaloes and Alabama Crimson Tide battled in one of two NIT Semifinals games. In the end, it was the Tide pulling out a 62-61 win after Trevor Releford scored with 12 seconds remaining to give the Tide the lead.
Colorado had a chance – and plenty of time – to answer the score, but sophomore Alec Burks’ attempt at the buzzer was off-line sending the Tide to the NIT Championship Game where they will face the Wichita State Shockers.
Burk scored 20 points while Levi Knutson scored 14 for the Buffaloes whose season comes to an end at 24-14. The Buffs have been labeled as a NCAA Tourney snub this year, a pill made that much more bitter by VCU’s improbable run to the Final Four. VCU had to win a ‘First Four’ game just to get into the Field of 64, and many thought their spot should have gone to Colorado.
JaMychal Green scored 22 points for the Tide(25-11) who also feel they should be playing in the big-boy tournament. At least for them there is the consolation of another basketball game – and the chances that they could win a post-season tournament.
Alabama led 36-30 at halftime, after both teams used 10-0 runs in the first 20 minutes in an attempt to take control. The Crimson Tide built the lead to 40-30 on a pair of baskets by Green shortly after the break before Colorado slowly climbed back into it.
Green went to the bench with his fourth foul with 12:19 left, and Colorado pulled ahead 48-47 moments later on a basket by Releford and a free throw by Higgins.
Colorado still led 57-52 with 6:02 left, about the same time that Green finally checked back into the game. He scored a couple minutes later to start an 8-0 run, which Charvez Davis capped with a basket that made it 60-57 with 2:56 remaining.
The 2011 NIT Tournament Final Four is set after the final three teams punched their ticket to Madison Square Garden last night with quarterfinals wins. Alabama, Washington State and Wichita State all won their quarterfinal games last night to join Colorado in New York for the NIT Final Four that begins March 29.
The first semifinal will be a battle of teams that feel they should be playing in the 2011 NCAA Tournament. The Colorado Buffaloes have been called the biggest tournament snub ever by some and have steamrolled their way through the NIT, beating Kent State in the quarterfinals 81-74 on Tuesday night. They will face the Alabama Crimson Tide, another tournament bubble team, after they beat Miami(FL) in another quarterfinal 79-64.
The other half of the NIT bracket will pit a No. 2 seed against a No. 4 seed. The Washington St. Cougars beat the Northwestern Wildcats last night 69-66 to earn a spot against the No. 4 seed Wichita St. Shockers. The Shockers beat No. 1 seed Virigina Tech 79-78 in OT, then beat Charleston 82-75 last night to advance.
Here is a complete look at the Semifinals:
March 29 – 7:00PM et – (4)Wichita State Shockers(27-8) Vs. (2)Washington State Cougars(22-12) – ESPN2
March 29 – 9:00PM et – (1)Alabama Crimson Tide(24-11) Vs. (1)Colorado Buffaloes(24-13) – ESPN2
The Kent St. Golden Flashes run in the 2011 NIT Basketball Tournament is over. After becoming the first road team to win two games in the NIT since 2005, Kent saw it’s road fortune come to an end in Boulder, CO against the Colorado Buffaloes 81-74.
Justin Greene scored 20 points and grabbed 7 rebounds to lead the Flashes(25-12) while guard Michael Porrini scored 14 points and dished out 5 assists. The Flashes shot the ball well – 50% from the field – but struggled on the glass where Colorado out-rebounded Kent State 36-26. The Buffaloes grabbed 14 offensive rebounds to just 8 for Kent State.
Alec Burks scored 25 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for Colorado who will next travel to New York City for the NIT Semifinals. Burks is a NBA prospect and showed why tonight in his 11-18 performance.
The Buffaloes took a 36-31 halftime lead, but the Flashes rallied to tie the game at 41 with 17 minutes to go. The lead switched hands multiple times in the 2nd half with Kent State leading 65-61 with 7 minutes to go.
The Buffaloes used a 15-5 run, however, to take a 75-70 lead with 3 minutes remaining. Kent State was able to get within two points at 77-75 with 2:15 to go, but Colorado finished the game with four straight points as Kent State missed multiple opportunities down the stretch.
The Kent St. Golden Flashes(25-11) are piling up the frequent flier miles in the 2011 NIT Tournament. First, it was a trip to California to play St. Mary's in the first. round. Then, on Sunday, the Flashes traveled to Connecticut to take on Fairfield in Round 2. The Flashes won both games, becoming the first team to win two road games in the NIT since 2005. Can they make it three straight when they take on the Colorado Buffaloes(23-13) in Boulder tonight?
Unlike Kent State, the Buffs have enjoyed the luxury of playing at home, and in front of a favorable crowd Colorado took down Texas Southern and recently California. This is the first NIT appearance for Colorado since the 2005-06 campaign and with the two wins the Buffs are a solid 10-7 in this event.
This will be the first-ever meeting between Kent State and Colorado on the hardwood.
Kent State put forth a fantastic effort in its last game, as the Golden Flashes took on Fairfield and a hostile crowd and turned in an impressive 40 minutes of basketball that led to a four-point win. The Golden Flashes shot 50.0 percent in the contest and finished 8-of-19 from long range. Kent State won the battle in the paint by a 38-28 scoring margin, and also found 18 points off 12 Fairfield turnovers. Randal Holt, who is averaging just 9.9 ppg on the season led the way with 22 points, while Carlton Guyton (12.6) tallied 16 points. Michael Porrini and Justin Manns helped out with 11 and 10 points, respectively. What made the win even more impressive was the fact that the team's leading scorer and rebounder Justin Greene (15.3 ppg and 8.4 rpg) was held to just eight points and eight boards.
Once again the Buffaloes used their offensive firepower to post a victory, as they scored 89 points in a win over California. Colorado, which is averaging 80.1 points per matchup, shot 45.6 percent in the victory and finished 9-of-20 from behind the arc. Alex Burks, who is leading the team on the season with 20.4 ppg and 6.4 rpg, poured in 25 points against the Golden Bears, but he was not the only player that joined in on the fun. Cory Higgins, who is netting 16.2 ppg on the year, added 22 points for Colorado, while Levi Knutson chipped in 10 points off the bench.
Kent State could pose a problem for Colorado because the Golden Flashes are tough defensively, but all the traveling could finally wear on them. Look for Colorado to get the victory, and punch its ticket to New York. The game can be seen on ESPN at 9PM et.
The Kent St. Golden Flashes are moving on in the 2011 NIT Basketball Tournament after beating the Fairfield Stags on the road 72-68. Kent State will next face top seeded Colorado Buffaloes in the quarterfinals on Tuesday night with a trip to Madison Square Garden on the line.
Randal Holt scored 22 points while Carlton Guyton added 16 to lead the Flashes(25-11) to the win. The Flashes took a 52-49 lead with just over 11 minutes remaining on a three pointer by Rodriguez Sherman and never trailed again.
Derek Needham led the Stags with 20 points – 18 in the first half – while Ryan Olander added 15 points. Michael Porrini scored 11 points for the Flashes who shot 50% from the field compared to 45% for Fairfield. Kent State was 8-19 from three point range while Fairfield converted just 7-26.
The game was tied at 35 at the break and Fairfield took a 41-37 lead as Kent State struggled to score. With the game tied at 49, the Flashes went on an 11-6 run to take a 60-55 lead. The Stags closed to within 7-68 with :14 seconds to go, but the Flashes iced the game away from the free throw line.
Cleveland State is gone in the 2011 NIT Basketball Tournament, but the Kent St. Golden Flashes remain. The Flashes will travel to Bridgeport, Connecticut to face the Fairfield Stags looking to advance to the Quarterfinals and a meeting with No. 1 seed Colorado Buffaloes.
Postseason play has become commonplace for the Golden Flashes, as this is their 12th appearance in 13 years. This is the second straight NIT for the Golden Flashes, and the ninth in their history. In that time the team has collected a 4-8 ledger. One of those victories came in this year’s event, as Kent State defeated Saint Mary’s, 71-70. Kent State was the first team in the Mid-American Conference in 21 years to win back-to-back regular-season titles, but the team eventually fell in the conference tournament championship contest against Akron.
As for the Stags, they claimed just their second ever victory in the NIT and the first for the school since 1973 when they defeated Colorado State, 62-60. This is the sixth appearance in this event for Fairfield, which is 2-5 all- time. Fairfield claimed the regular-season title in the Metro-Atlantic Athletic Conference, but stumbled in the league’s tournament game, missing out on a chance to join the Big Dance.
Justin Greene was the leader for this Kent State squad all year, so naturally when the Golden Flashes needed a big shot, the veteran forward stepped up and produced. Greene dropped in a layup with three seconds remaining in regulation against Saint Mary’s, capping off KSU’s furious late rally. Saint Mary’s led every step of the way in the second stanza, until Greene scored that basket. Kent State was playing catch up for most of the match, the team still shot a healthy 48.4 percent from the floor and also made 8-of-17 shots from long range. Justin Greene, who led the team on the year with 15.5 ppg and 8.4 rpg, finished with 11 points, while Michael Porrini paced the squad with 19 points. Randal Holt and Carlton Guyton (12.5 ppg) both registered 13 points apiece, while Holt also recorded six rebounds and six assists.
In what was a see-saw battle from start to finish, one player stepped up his game down the stretch to lead his team to victory, and that was Fairfield’s Yorel Hawkins, who scored 10 of the last 11 points for the Stags, leading them to a slim win over Colorado State. Hawkins, who is averaging 10.0 ppg on the season, finished with a game-high 17 points. Ryan Olander (10.3 ppg and 6.8 rpg) added a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds, while Derek Needham the team’s leading scorer and distributor on the year (13.9 ppg and 146 assists) contributed 10 points, to go along with six assists. The Stags were not overwhelming offensively, shooting just 43.1 percent from the floor, while making only 3-of-17 attempts from long range. However, what helped the Stags reach the second round was their defensive performance, as they held Colorado State to just 32.2 percent from the floor, and forced 20 turnovers.
These two teams are very similar considering both programs rely on defense first. Fairfield is slightly better in that area, but the Golden Flashes are more productive at the offensive end.
Kent St. leads the all-time series between to two teams 3-1.
The Cleveland State Vikings’ run in the 2011 NIT Basketball Tournament is over. The Vikings fell to the Charleston Cougars 64-56 at the Wolstein Center ending their season at 27-9.
As has been the case much of the season, when guard Norris Cole struggles for the Vikings they have a hard time scoring points. Today was no exception as Cole scored 18 points but was just 6-22 from the floor including 0-8 from three point range. The Vikings as a team shot just 1-25(4.0%) from three, marking one of their worst performances of the season. Overall the Vikings shot 33.3% from the field.
Charleston shot the ball much better – 45.7% from the field – including 7-19 from three point range. The VIkings did a solid job on Cougars leading scorer Andrew Goudelock who scored just 13 points on 3-12 from the floor. Together with Cole, the two teams’ leading scores – who average nearly 45 points per game combined – scored 31 points on a combined 0-14 from three point range.
The game was a back and forth affair until Antwaine Wiggins buried 3 of his 11 points, giving the Cougars a 48-46 lead with *:42 to go, a lead the Cougars would never give away.
Cleveland State was held scoreless for nearly 8 minutes in the 2nd half sealing their fate – and their season. Charleston(26-10) will advance to face the winner of the Wichita State – Virginia Tech game in the Quarterfinals.
After a four day layoff, the 2011 NIT Basketball Tournament gets back underway today for Cleveland State. The Vikings, winners over Vermont in their first round match-up on Tuesday night will host Charleston down at the Wolstein Center at 2:00PM. Colorado got the 2nd Round underway last night with a dominating 89-72 win over Cal. The Buffaloes are definitely playing with a chip on their shoulders after being left out of the NCAA Tournament.
Here's a look at today's action in the NIT:
Cleveland State hosts Charleston in one of two second round NIT games on Saturday. The Vikings escaped a tough battle with Vermont in the first round 63-60 while Charleston upset the Dayton Flyers 94-84. The Vikings are going to have to find some scoring if they want to advance. Charleston is 31st in the country in scoring, averaging 76 points per game. The Vikings, on the other hand, average 71.7 points per game. Cleveland State doesn't rebound the ball particularly well either so it will be paramount that they get easy looks.
The Cougars are led by guard Andrew Goudelock who averages 23.8 points per game. A four-tear starter for the Cougars, Goudelock does a little bit of everything. He shoots for a high average from the free throw line(81.7%) and can hit from deep as well(41.2%).
The Vikings need to get a big game from their superstar Norris Cole. Cole leads the Vikings in scoring(21.8 ppg), assists(5.3) and rebounds(5.9). If Norris is on, the Vikings are on. If not, it could be a long day.
After a dramatic opening day of the 2011 NIT Basketball Tournament, day 2 has a lot to live up to. A couple of teams that feel they got the shaft from the NCAA Tournament Committee are in action, with Colorado and Virginia Tech both taking the floor. The Cleveland State Vikings and Kent St. Golden Flashes will get a well-deserved break after big wins in yesterday's action.
The Big Ten has one team - Northwestern - in action tonight against Horizon League runner-up Milwaukee in Evanston, Indiana.
In a battle between players that won Conference Player of the Year Awards in the MAC and WCC, it was Justin Greene of the Kent St. Golden Flashes that converted his opportunity with 4.6 seconds remaining to give the Flashes a come-from-behind 71-70 win on the road against the St. Mary's Gaels in Moraga, CA.
Green, the MAC Player of the Year, struggled most of the night, scoring just 11 points while turning the ball over 6 times, but scored on a lay-up at the biggest moment after a St. Mary's tournover. After a time out, St. Mary's had a chance to win when WCC Player of the Year Mickey McConnell took the inbounds pass, drove towards the hoop, but saw his layup rim out as time expired. McConnell, playing in his final college game, scored just 5 points.
St. Mary's dominated much of the night after an early lead for Kent State. The Flashes jumped out to a 22-15 lead midway though the first half before the Gael got going. Using a 17-4 run, St Mary's led at the half 39-25. They extended the lead to 12 points - 55-43 - after a McConnell layup with 13:35 to go in the game. Kent St. would go away, however, and thanks to some sloppy play by the home team the Flashes got back into the game.
Down three - 70-67 - with 25 seconds to go, Kent State got a layup from Michael Porrini. Out of timeouts and needing to foul, the Flashes got a break when Clint Steindl's inbounds pass went out of bounds, giving the Flashes the opportunity to win the game. Greene made the most of it and Kent State was able to dodge a bullet at the buzzer.
Porrini led the Flashes with 21 points on 9-13 shooting. The Flashes shot 48.4% from the field while holding the Gaels to 43.5%. Rob Jones scored 21 points to lead the Gaels while Matthew Dellavedova added 18 points. Kent St. had the advantage on the glass - 36-28, but also had 17 turnovers to just 10 for St. Mary's.
The Flashes will take on Fairfield in the Second Round after the No.6 seed upset Colorado St. 62-60.
Survive and advance. That is the name of the game in college basketball come March - be it the NCAA Tournament or the 2011 NIT Basketball Tournament. The Cleveland St. Vikings did just that, overcoming a two-point halftime deficit to defeat the Vermont Catamounts 63-60 in the first round of the NIT down at the Wolstein Center.
Guard Norris Cole had 27 points,including two clutch free throws with 4.4 seconds remaining to lead the Vikings into the second round. Aaron Pogue added 11 points and 8 rebounds for the VIkings, who moved to 27-8 on the season.
After Cleveland State got off to a hot start, grabbing an early 19-12 lead, Vermont stormed back on the strength of a 13-2 run to take a 25-21 lead. Vermont led 27-25 at halftime.
The second half was back and forth, with both teams trading the lead. A pair of Luke Apfeld free throws gave the Catamounts a 44-41 lead with 11:21 to go, a lead the was quickly erased by a Josh McCoy three. The game continued to go back and forth with Vermont leading 57-55 with 2:53 remaining. That's when the Vikings defense took over - and Norris Cole got going.
Vermont went over two minutes without scoring a point, while a pair of Trevon Harmon free throws tied the game, and Cole scored on a layup, then two free throws of his own to give the Vikings a 61-57 lead with just 27 seconds to go.
Brendan Bald made things interesting with an acrobatic three with 11 seconds left, but Cole sealed the deal with two free throws. Matt Glass missed a desperation three at the buzzer, sending the Vikings to the second round.
Cleveland State will face the College of Charleston in the 2nd Round this weekend.
The 2011 NIT Basketball Tournament gets underway tonight with both the Cleveland St. Vikings and Kent St. in action. CSU will host Vermont while Kent State will travel out west to take on St. Mary's. Both games can be seen online at ESPN3.com, with Kent State getting the ESPN2 treatment as well.
Here is the complete schedule of first-round action topping off tonight:
7:00PM et: (7)Vermont Catamounts(23-8) At (2)Cleveland St. Vikings(26-8) - ESPN3
The Vikings can make up for a disappointing end of their season by making a run in the NIT. That run starts tonight against Vermont at the Wolstein Center. Both teams are NCAA Tournament-caliber squads that fell short in their conference tournaments. Cleveland State fell to Butler 76-68 while Vermont was upset by Stony Brook after a 13-3 conference record.
11:00PM et: (7)Kent St. Golden Flashes(23-11) At (2)St. Mary's Gaels - ESPN2
The Flashes were rolling through the MAC Tournament before blowing a 10-point lead to Akron in the final, losing to the Zips 66-65 in overtime. Saint Mary's lost to rival Gonzaga in the West Coast Conference finals after an 11-3 conference record. This is a tough matchup for Kent, having to get over the loss to Akron, then travel to the West Coast.
The rest of the first-round schedule looks like this:
8:00PM et: (6)Murray St. Racers(23-8) At (3)Missouri St. Bears(25-8) - ESPN3
The 2011 NIT Basketball Tournament gets underway Tuesday night with two local teams – Cleveland St. Vikings and Kent St. Golden Flashes – taking part. Below is the full schedule and match-ups for the NIT:
No. 4 New Mexico Lobos vs. No. 5 UTEP Miners on Tuesday at 9 pm
No. 3 Missouri State Bears vs. No. 6 Murray State Racers on Tuesday at 8 pm
No. 1 Colorado Buffaloes vs. No. 2 Texas Southern Wednesday at 7 pm
No. 2 St. Mary’s Gaels vs. No. 7 Kent St. Golden Flashes on Tuesday at 11 pm
No. 4 Northwestern Wildcats vs. No. 5 Milwaukee Panthers on Wednesday at 8 pm
No. 2 Cleveland St. Vikings vs. No. 7 Vermont Catamounts on Tuesday at 7 pm
For teams that didn't make the 68-team cut in the 2011 NCAA Basketball Tournament, the NIT is their chance to show what they can do, and if nothing else simply play some basketball. For a couple of local squads that felt short of their goal, the NIT is a welcome invitation.
The Cleveland St. Vikings made the list, getting a #2-Seed and a first round matchup with #7-seed Vermont on Tuesday night at the Wolstein Center. The Vikings lost in the Horizon League Semifinals to eventual champion Butler.
Also making the NIT are the Kent St. Golden Flashes, a #7 seed, who will face #2-seed St. Mary's. The Flashes were hoping for better until they lost to Akron in the MAC Tournament Championship last night.
The top four seeds in the tournament all have reason to feel they should be playing in the big tournament. Especially Colorado, who beat Kansas St. three different times and made it to the Big 12 Semifinals. The Buffalos are a #1 seed in the NIT along with Alabama, Boston College and Virginia Tech.