NIT-picking: Wednesday's late games
Looks like the schedule cut me a break today - there are only two games after 9. I'd include the 8:00 Green Bay-Illinois State game, but that'd be cutting it a bit close. Besides, I have a reputation to uphold. Wait, maybe I should include it, then? Nah. Let's get to the fun stuff.
Last time on NIT-picking
Home teams were 4-0; yours truly thought UC Irvine would be the lone road team to cover. I chose ... poorly.
#5 Vanderbilt (19-13, kenpom 45) at #4 Saint Mary's (21-9, kenpom 66), 9:00 on ESPN2
Common opponents: none that I saw, so I'll just mention that Vanderbilt lost to Rutgers on a neutral court and beat Purdue at home. ???
Drinking games: when Vanderbilt gets an offensive rebound (Saint Mary's allows 24.5%, 6th in DI), when Saint Mary's shoots with more than 20 seconds left on the clock (avg. possession length 20.3, 329th; Vanderbilt allows 19.1 avg, 289th)
For experts: when Vanderbilt gets an assist (64.7 A/FGM, 5th; Saint Mary's allows 55.8, 254th), when a Vanderbilt freshman hits a shot (5 of 9 players with 16% or more of possessions used are freshmen, Vanderbilt has 0.71 yrs experience, 347th)
kenpom spread: Saint Mary's -2
Who you should take: Vanderbilt, the team that lost at Kentucky by 8. (Saint Mary's lost by 21 at Gonzaga.) The Commodores went 8-2 in conference play to end the season after starting 1-7. They did lose twice to Tennessee, but rivalries. (Right, IU fans?) Meanwhile, Saint Mary's lost its last two games, to #188 Santa Clara and #126 Portland. Ugh. Also, they don't want me to abbreviate Saint, which is causing me all kind of extra work. And of course Lionel Richie got his start with the Commodores. So there you have it.
#8 South Dakota State (23-10, kenpom 105) at #1 Colorado State (27-6, kenpom 68), 10:00 on ESPNU
Common opponents: Denver (SDSU 69-76 (at Denver) and 69-39 (at SDSU), CSU 85-84 (at Denver))
Drinking games: when CSU turns it over (16.3%, 30th in DI; SDSU forces 18.3%, 226th), when SDSU gets an offensive rebound (28.8%, 255th; CSU allows 25.5%, 10th)
For experts: when the Jackrabbits hit a three (.377, 48th, with 38.9 3PA/FGA, 59th; CSU allows .359, 256th, and 35.1 3PA/FGA, 200th), when CSU draws a shooting foul (41.5 FTA/FGA, 66th; SDSU allows 39.9, 236th)
kenpom spread: Colorado State -7
Who you should take: Colorado State. Yes, as they pointed out, they are one of the 68 best teams in DI. Unfortunately for the Rams, that's not as important as being one of the 36 best at-large teams. There is a fairly long list of teams that have a better kenpom argument than CSU does, so perhaps next time they should do their homework? Anyway, the Jackrabbits had five bad in-conference losses (#222 Denver, #150 North Dakota State twice, #173 IPFW, #225 South Dakota), plus two bad non-conferences losses (#236 Idaho, #178 Florida Gulf Coast - yes, that team), and I think that's representative of their relative strength. Three of CSU's six losses came to #28 San Diego State (twice) and #41 Boise State (once) ... and they also beat each of those teams once. This 1-8 matchup will stay true to form.