Leon Bennett/Getty Images
The first round of the 2018 National Invitational Tournament was short on upsets and had only a handful of nail-biters.
One might expect that, though, as the top seeds are generally teams that feel they should have been in the NCAA tournament but were snubbed and therefore need to take out their frustrations on smaller, less competitive schools.
Top-seeded Notre Dame crushed No. 8 Hampton 84-63 in the first round of the NIT, and they will look to keep up their winning ways against Penn State on Saturday.
The other three No. 1 seeds (naturally also feeling wronged for not making the NCAA tourney) also won their respective contests. Saint Mary’s was the most impressive of all, demolishing Southeastern Louisiana by a score of 89-45.
The NIT is wildly overshadowed by the NCAA tournament, but it still offers those involved a last chance to prove themselves before the season is over.
Plus, this year the NIT is serving as a test lab for some potential rule changes for college basketball, including an extended three-point line and using 10-minute quarters instead of halves.
Here’s a look at the second-round schedule for the NIT. All games will be played at the higher-seeded team’s campus site this round.
All games are on ESPN network channels and can be found via live stream at WatchESPN.
The complete tournament bracket can be found here.
NIT Second-Round Schedule
Saturday, March 17 (all times Eastern)
No. 1 Notre Dame vs No. 4 Penn State, 12 p.m. on ESPN
Sunday, March 18
No. 1 Baylor vs. No. 4 Mississippi State, 12 p.m. on ESPN
No. 2 Marquette vs. No. 3 Oregon, 4:30 p.m. on ESPN2
No. 2 Louisville vs. No. 3 Middle Tennessee, 6:30 p.m. on ESPN2
Monday, March 1
No. 2 Oklahoma State vs. No. 3 Stanford, 7 p.m. on ESPNU
No. 2 Utah vs. No. 3 LSU, 9 p.m. on ESPNU
No. 1 St. Mary’s vs. No. 5 Washington, 11 p.m. on ESPN
No. 1 USC vs. No. 4 Western Kentucky, 11:30 p.m. on ESPN2
As you can see, the only lower seeded team that managed to beat a higher seeded one was No. 5 Washington, which managed to squeak by No. 4 Boise State 77-74 on Wednesday.
Most of the games were competitive, but there were only a couple that truly came down to the final seconds, as most teams ended up winning by about seven points or more.
One such contest was USC versus UNC-Asheville, which saw the Trojans survive what would have been an embarrassing early exit by winning 103-98 in double overtime.
USC was playing without star Chimezie Metu, who is looking to stay healthy as he prepares for the NBA, but they still got the win they needed thanks to massive efforts from Jordan McLaughlin (26 points, 13 assists) and Nick Rakocevic (24 points, 19 rebounds). USC will go on to play the Hilltoppers of Western Kentucky in the round of 16.
Some saw the Pac-12 as a conference that was wronged by the selection committee, as they only allowed three teams (Arizona, Arizona State and UCLA) into the NCAA tournament.
All three of those squads ended up losing their only games, however, leaving the representatives of the Pac-12 to carry the banner in the NIT. So far, so good, as all five Pac-12 squads are still alive in the NIT, albeit against lesser competition.
As for the other one seeds, the Baylor Bears will have a tough contest against Mississippi State. The Bulldogs have seen steady improvement under coach Ben Howland, who coached the UCLA Bruins to March Madness glory for several years. They could be a tough out as Howland has the knowhow and experience to steer a team through a late-season tournament.
Saint Mary’s gets aforementioned Washington in the second round, as they look to build on their excellent first-round display against Southeastern Louisiana. The Gaels were led by 26 points from center Jock Landale and 19 points from guard Jordan Ford. They, like all the other No 1 seeds, had a case for making the NCAA tourney, and they will look to send the Pac-12 packing on Monday.