2016 NIT Championship Preview and Pick
On Thursday, March 31st, an NIT champion will be crowned. George Washington looks to fulfill an unprecedented run through the 2016 NIT, one that could potentially culminate in a win over #1 seed, Valparaiso.
The Crusaders aren’t likely to back down, however, as they were expected to be here as one of the top seeds in the tourney. Valpo played with a chip on their shoulder throughougt the tournament, knowing that a spot in March Madness should have been theirs.
Madness will come one way or another on Thursday night, as Valpo will aim to put the finishing touches on a remarkable 2015-16 college basketball season. Of course, George Washington will be out to stage the upset, so college basketball bettors need to consider both sides of this title game throw down.
Odds and Line
This game dominates college basketball on Thursday, as its being played two days ahead of the Final Four. It also is set up to be a tight battle, with Valpo carrying a mild -2 advantage per Vegas.
That makes this game a virtual toss-up, and after seeing GW get past a very good San Diego State squad, it’s entirely possible they are on top of their game again and topple the favored Crusaders.
The Total is the interesting play here, as both teams put up over 75 points per game on the year. Valpo just got past a very potent BYU team in what was their first real challenge in some time, while the Colonials ousted San Diego State in what was more of a defensive battle.
Both teams can really pour it on thick offensively, however, and this game should lean more toward a run and gun show than a grind it out affair. We’ll be betting on the Over.
Why Valpo Wins
It’s destiny, baby. The Crusaders got burned big time by not getting into the Big Dance this year, and it’s largely because they lost to U.W.G.B in the Horizon League tournament title game.
Valpo probably deserved to get in regardless, but it wasn’t to be, and now they’re planning on taking the NIT as a consolation prize. For what it’s worth, it’d be Valparaiso’s first NIT title and it’d definitely be a fine cap for what has been an amazing 30-6 season.
Aside from fate, Valpo also has a strong offense and a solid defense leading the way, giving them the balance usually seen in champions. George Washington certainly looks the part of an underdog champ, but Valpo has looked built to go the distance all year long, while being carried by offensive ace, Alec Peters (17 points per game).
On top of the team balance and Peters’ ability to lift the team onto his shoulders, the Crusaders also stood strong in the face of adversity against BYU. Whether they run away with this one or get one more basket than GW in a barn burner, they feel destined to take the NIT title.
Why George Washington Wins
Tyler Cavanaugh just won’t quit delivering. He’s been an offensive catalyst for the Colonials, who dismantled a tough Aztecs defense in their last game and have been quite impressive throughout the tourney.
George Washington has really flashed a potent offense at times, ripping the top seed (Monmouth) for 87 points and also dropping 82 in a shootout with the Florida Gators. They did survive by playing more to San Diego’s style in their last game, but still nearly put up 70 points against a very good defense.
Needless to say, if George Washington shows up with their offense, they’re going to have a chance in this one. The Crusaders do tend to play better defense and have largely been dominant in their tourney run, but if this game is a track meet, George Washington will have a real shot at the upset.
It’s Valpo, all the way. Vegas likes the Crusaders and it’s hard to knock that notion. Valpo should have been in the NCAA tournament, notched 30 wins on the year and dominated the Horizon League. They look every bit the part of a NIT champ and they hold the defensive and competitive edge when compared to George Washington.
Pick: Valpo 79, George Washington 76
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