Mount St. Mary's (18-14) vs Coppin State (16-20)
7:30 PM ESPN
For an amazingly in-depth preview of these two teams.. check out Raphielle Johnson's Opening Round preview. He somehow knows more about these teams than I could ever know. But what I do know is that although Coppin State has won 12 of 13 games, the MEAC is awful (though not nearly as bad as the SWAC), and thus the Mount is the safe pick.
Prediction: Mount St. Mary's
Maryland (18-14) at Minnesota (20-13)
9:30 PM ESPN
Because NIT games are not on neutral courts, the spreads on most of the games are rather large. But this game has a relatively tight 3 point spread thanks to the perception that Maryland and the ACC are better than Minnesota and the Big Ten. Also helping Maryland's cause is that they've had some success away from College Park, beating UNC, BC, Wake Forest amongst others. But I think more important than records, is simply how much these teams want the win. Maryland collapsed late in the season (losing 5 of 6), while Minnesota showed some renewed heart in the Big Ten tournament.
Rhode Island (21-11) at Creighton (21-10)
10:00 PM ESPNU
These seem like the most evenly matched teams in the NIT's opening round, but of course home-court makes Creighton a healthy 7 point favorite. The Bluejays played two A10 teams earlier in the year, knocking off St. Joseph's at home and losing in Cincy to Xavier. Those games suggest that Creighton has enough talent to beat a URI team that blew their chance to make the Big Dance, losing 7 of 8 games.. many of which went down to the wire. Against the spread, I actually like URI who has better individual talent, but the Rams struggle to win close games.
Previous Game of the Night (Predictions, 100-59)
March 15th - Kansas vs Texas (2-1)
March 14th - St. Joseph's vs Temple (1-2)
March 13th - Ohio State vs Michigan State (2-1)
March 12th - Arizona State at USC (2-1)
March 12th - Syracuse vs Villanova (2-1)
March 11th - IUPUI at Oral Roberts (3-0)
March 10th - Gonzaga at San Diego (1-2)
March 9th - Florida at Kentucky (1-2)
March 8th - UNC at Duke (2-1)
March 5th - Tennessee at Florida (2-1)
March 4th - UNLV at New Mexico (3-0)
March 3rd - Texas Tech at Kansas (3-0)
March 2nd - Clemson at Maryland (1-2)