Shaban Athuman/Getty Images
No. 4 Penn State put the rest of the 2018 men’s National Invitation Tournament field on notice Saturday, as the Nittany Lions beat the No. 1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish 73-63 in South Bend, Indiana. PSU never trailed in the contest.
The rest of the second round will go down Sunday and Monday. Here’s a look at the schedule for those games, the bracket and a few notes on what to watch.
Utah Basketball @UtahMBB
Official 2018 NIT Bracket. #GoUtes https://t.co/QWxl77Oeww
You can find the updated NIT bracket by following this link from NCAA.com.
Sunday, March 18 2nd-Round Schedule
12 p.m.: No. 4 Mississippi State at No. 1 Baylor
4:30 p.m.: No. 3 Oregon at No. 2 Marquette
6:30 p.m.: No. 3 Middle Tennessee at No. 2 Louisville
Monday, March 19 2nd-Round Schedule
7 p.m.: No. 3 Stanford at No. 2 Oklahoma State
9 p.m.: No. 3 LSU at No. 2 Utah
11 p.m.: No. 5 Washington at No. 1 Saint Mary’s
11:30 p.m.: No. 4 Western Kentucky at No. 1 USC
Tuesday and Wednesday at campus sites.
March 27 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
March 29 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
All times ET.
What to Watch: 2nd Round
The Jock Landale Show
Saint Mary’s center Jock Landale averages 21.5 points and 10.2 rebounds per game, and he posted an efficient 26-point performance (on 11-of-15 shooting) in an 89-45 blowout of Southeastern Louisiana in the first round.
Landale and the Gaels sat on the NCAA tournament bubble, but they just missed out—in part because of an early loss in the WCC tournament (a semifinals defeat to BYU).
Saint Mary’s ended up getting a No. 1 seed in the NIT instead, and it looks like it means all business in this tournament based off its opening 44-point win.
Landale, a 6’11” senior, has 18 double-doubles this year, including 11 in a 12-game span midseason. He’s going to be a problem Monday for the Washington Huskies, who have only one player that averages more than 4.7 rebounds per game (junior forward Noah Dickerson at 8.3 boards a night).
Can Middle Tennessee Make a Run?
Like Saint Mary’s, the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders were on the bubble heading into Selection Sunday, although MTSU’s placement there was the result of a big upset loss to Southern Miss in the Conference USA quarterfinals. That defeat kept the Blue Raiders out of the NCAA tournament following two straight years (and two upset wins) in the Big Dance.
Also like the Gaels, the Blue Raiders blew out their first-round opponent, as they defeated the Vermont Catamounts 91-64. Giddy Potts was the star that day, as he posted 25 points.
Potts was also the hero when the Blue Raiders upset the heavily favored Michigan State Spartans in 2016, as he scored 19 points. He’s a tournament-tested senior who knows how to win come March, and it will be tough for any NIT team to stop him and senior forward Nick King, who averages 20.9 points and 8.5 rebounds per game.
Potential Upset in Southern California
USC is a 4-point favorite over Western Kentucky, according to OddsShark, but if the Trojans play the way they did in the first round against UNC Asheville, then the Hilltoppers should come away with the victory.
Playing without leading scorer Chimezie Metu, who is sitting out of the NIT to avoid injury prior to entering the NBA draft, USC needed double overtime to avoid a massive upset against the Bulldogs, eventually winning 103-98.
The Hilltoppers are a much tougher team, as they lost to Villanova by just eight points and beat Purdue by four during the regular season. They won 24 games and took Marshall to the limit in the Conference USA title game, losing just 67-66. The Thundering Herd went on to upset the Wichita State Shockers in the first round.
USC is going to have a tough time stopping the Hilltoppers’ balanced scoring attack (five players average in double figures). Senior forward Justin Johnson leads the team in points and rebounds, with 15.4 and 9.6, respectively.
If you’re in Las Vegas and happen to be in a betting mood, taking the four points with Western Kentucky may not be a bad idea.