NIT Season Tip-Off Preview
Today begins the NIT Season Tip-Off, an exciting tournament with four teams who look to make it back to the NCAA Tournament and two teams who are legitimate contenders for a National Championship. Kansas is the headliner, they entered into the season as the preseason number one team, they will be looking to prove to the sport that they are the team to beat. Tennessee is a preseason Top-10 team, who looks to make a run a Final Four, while they could make a statement by winning this event. Marquette has the most exciting player in the field in Markus Howard, while Louisville has a new head coach in Chris Mack, who will want to make an early-season statement. Below I will give a power rankings with a preview and then I will give my predictions for each game.
1.Kansas: Kansas obviously comes into this game as the favorites to win the event as on paper they have the most talented team. The frontcourt duo of Dedric Lawson and Udoka Azubuike might be the best in the sport. Lagerald Vick enters into this event making 15 of his last 20 three-pointers, headlined by an 8-8 night against Vermont. They also have two five-star freshmen in Quentin Grimes and Devon Dotson, who have been good with the ball this season. This Kansas team should be considered the tournament favorites and they should win this tournament, however, you never know.
2.Tennessee: The Volunteers may not be the tournament favorites, however, they are a really good team, that could potentially win this event. The headline player is Grant Williams, who is the reigning SEC Player of the year and he has looked even better this year, as he is putting up gigantic numbers. Kyle Alexander and Admiral Schofield continue to be really good in the frontcourt, while Jordan’s Bone and Bowden continue to play well in the backcourt. This team should win game one, setting up a likely matchup against tournament favorite Kansas, if they win that game they will pick up a huge win.
3.Marquette: Marquette has maybe the best player in the tournament in Markus Howard. Howard is already putting up big numbers this year, while Sam Hauser is also playing well to start the season. Other than those two the Golden Eagles really have some concerns with the other players around them. They still should be able to get a win in this event but it would be hard to imagine them beating Kansas in the first round.
4.Louisville: The Cardinals come into this game with a good group of inexperienced pieces, so this tournament can only give them a chance to learn and get better. The best player has been Jordan Nwora, who has been great coming off the bench for Louisville, while Darius Perry, Steven Enoch, and VJ King have looked good thus far this year. I think this team should play it close in both their games but I think they likely go 0-2 in this event.
NIT Season Tip-Off Predictions:
Kansas 87 Marquette 78
Tennessee 71 Louisville 59
3rd Place Game: Marquette 79 Louisville 74
Championship Game: Kansas 76 Tennessee 70