The NIT tips off today as Syracuse hosts UNC Greensboro from the Carrier Dome. Syracuse is the number one overall seed so it will have home court advantage all the way up to the (NIT) Final Four, so long as the Orange keep winning.
Tonight’s game tips off at 7pm EST and will air on ESPN. With that in mind, we brought our old friend Ellie Lieberman from Mid Major Madness to preview tonight’s game.
TNIAAM: What should Syracuse know about UNC Greensboro?
Ellie Lieberman: UNC Greensboro was the regular season top dog in the Southern conference (that is sending ETSU to the NCAAM Tournament). Their biggest strength is most definitely three point shooting and in fact, they are 34th in the nation with a 38.7% percentage of shots made from behind the arc. Luckily, Syracuse isn’t far behind at 41st in the nation. Their two leading scorers Francis Alonso and Diante Baldwin combine for 28 points each game, on average, and Alonso boasts a 47% 3-point percentage.
TNIAAM: The committee selecting this matchup is absolute trolling right?
EL: I think so for sure. Reggie Minton, the NIT chairman claims that the committee was purely “matching teams against teams and not story lines against storylines” in a phone interview with ESPN.
TNIAAM: Who should we watch out for against the zone?
EL: UNC Greensboro does have a strong defense and has held opponents under 60 points 11 times this year. However, I do think that that their defense relies largely on R.J. White and James Dickey. Together, the duo averages 14.1 rebounds and 2.4 blocks a game. These monsters in the paint have the ability to shut other teams down but I think that Syracuse bigs can handle them well.
TNIAAM: Any chance of an upset in this one?
EL: If three point shooting gets hot for the Spartans then yes, but otherwise I find an upset unlikely.
TNIAAM: Who wins and why?
EL: Syracuse because I think they’re stronger in every position. John Gillon and Tyler Lydon can match any perimeter shooting that UNCA might have. Lydon is also phenomenal defensively and couple that with Andrew White III and a plethora of Syracuse guards, well, that’s a clear W for the Orange.
There you have it. Should Syracuse win and face off against Monmouth in the second round, expect to hear more from Ellie.
Be sure to head on over to midmajormadness.com to catch (sigh) NCAA Tournament upsets from the underdogs in the field of 68.