NIT Championship Predictions and Odds: Stanford vs Minnesota
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
by Mike Stewart
Stanford’s Chasson Randle leads his team in scoring while shooting 44 percent from the field, and Andre Hollins scored a team-high 20 points in the Gophers’ 68-67 overtime victory over Washington in the semifinals.
Minnesota is looking for its third NIT crown after winning in 1993 and 1998, although the latter was vacated due to an ineligible player. Stanford, which won the 1991 NIT title, improved to 11-4 in six NIT appearances with its 74-64 victory over Massachusetts on Tuesday.
Minnesota Golden Gophers (23-14): The Gophers were 6-12 in the Big Ten and lost seven of their final nine games before winning three straight road games to reach the NIT semifinals. Against Washington, Rodney Williams had 18 points and nine rebounds despite playing much of the second half in foul trouble. “It seems like when he gets off to a good start we play well,” said coach Tubby Smith. Williams needs 16 points to break Voshon Lenard’s school record for most points in a postseason tournament. Lenard had 99 points in the 1993 NIT. Hollins, who was once recruited by Stanford, is averaging 17.8 points in the NIT.
Stanford Cardinal (25-11): Josh Owens had 15 points and tied a career high with 12 rebounds against Massachusetts, and he’ll need another strong effort against the Gophers. Owens will likely be asked to neutralize Williams, who was called one of the top five athletes in college basketball by Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins. Guard Anthony Brown scored a season-high 18 points against the Minutemen, including a key 3-pointer late in the game. The backcourt trio of Randle, Brown and Aaron Bright scored 43 of the team’s 74 points in the win. The title game could be a defensive battle, with Stanford allowing an average of 63.5 points and Minnesota holding teams to an average of 64.5.
1. Minnesota center Ralph Sampson III has missed the last six games with a sprained right knee, and his status is doubtful for the NIT final.
2. Stanford is just the fourth team to play at New York’s Madison Square Garden in both the Preseason and Postseason NIT during the same season.
3. The teams share two common opponents, Southern California and Washington. Stanford was 2-0 against the Trojans, and the Gophers won 55-40. The Cardinal lost 76-63 at Washington, while Minnesota beat the Huskies on Tuesday.
NCAA BASKETBALL PREDICTION: Stanford 67, Minnesota 65.
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