And when I’m talking about College Breakdowns, I’m talkin’ bout:
The National Invitational Tournament...aka the NI “frickin” T
Check in early tomorrow as I finish-up my Bracketology for the Big Dance!
UTAH STATE AGGIES (+8.5) @ ILLINOIS STATE REDBIRDS
The Redbirds (24-9) were the only team from IL to have a better than expected season and actually had a chance at an at-large bid...before they were blown-out by 30 against Drake in the MVC Championship. In my opinion, even if they had lost by two I still don’t think they would've been invited, but that doesn’t change the fact that their probably dealing with a major hangover from Selection Sunday. Outside of Drake, the MVC was horrible this season and ISU was not much different from the rest of the pack. Besides some impressive wins in a lousy conference, the Redbirds didn’t win a game against any teams currently in the field of 65, with their most impressive non-conf. win coming at home against (20-13) UNC-Wilmington. Outside of 6-3 So. Osiris Eldridge (16 ppg, 6 rpg, 40-3pt%), ISU doesn’t have anybody that will scare opponents, as seen in their last two contest as nobody scored in double figures except for Eldridge. As for the (24-10) Aggies...
As for the (24-10) Aggies, after a solid season they lost in the conference semi-finals to the eventual champion Boise St by 10. Led by possibly the best shooter in the nation that doesn’t play at Davidson, Sr. Jaycee Carroll was the heart and soul of an USU squad that beat three tourney teams (Oral Roberts, Austin Peay, & Boise St) and had winning streaks of 10 & 6 during the season. With Carroll a weapon from anywhere on the floor (23 ppg, 6 rpg, 53-fg%, 51-3pt%, 92-ft%), the Aggies surround him with three lunch-pale forwards ranging from 6-6 to 6-9 that average a combined 33 ppg, 17 rpg, & 2 bpg and a SR. PG that rarely looks to score and averages almost 7 assists per contest. In addition, USU has a 6th man looking to replace Mr. Carroll in freshman Tyler Newbold, who actually shot with a higher % than his mentor (55-fg% & 52-3pt%) and averaged 18 ppg during the WAC tourney knocking down 9-12 from behind the arc. Adding this all up, besides the cross-country trip, I struggle to find many reasons why the Redbirds will pull this one out…let alone cover 8 and half…Jaycee Carroll with a buzzer-beater
ATLANTA HAWKS (-1) @ NEW JERSEY NETS
The Hawks have quietly won 3-straight, including their last two on the road, and currently hold the final playoff spot in the dreadful East by a game. During Monday’s impressive 105-96 victory in D.C. with Caron Butler back in uniform, the Hawks continued to show maturity at the offensive end with their shot-selection (55-fg% & 53-3pt%) and overall decision-making by dishing out 25 assists to only 10 turnovers. With Mike Bibby finally looking more comfortable in red and yellow, ATL now has two legit long-range threats to space the floor (Joe Johnson) and give Josh Smith the ability to take his man to the hole or find the lanky Josh Childress & Marvin Williams for their dominate mid-range game. Throw-in Al Horford’s consistent hustle inside (10 ppg, 10 rpg, 1 bpg) and I expect the Hawks to continue to build confidence as the head towards the postseason. As for the Nets, while their actually the team only a game behind the Hawks, they were embarrassed in Chi-Town last night and lost their new spark-plug to an ankle injury (PG Devin Harris). While RJ and Vinsanity can still put-up some crazy highlights, they look extremely tired and actually somewhat annoyed to still be running with a plethora of inexperienced big-men. Tonight, I look for ATL to jump out early and continue to shoot the rock with confidence as the game progresses…Hawks by 4-8 points