Monday, November 22, 2010

The 2010 NIT Tip-Off -- A Look at the Winston-Salem and DC Pods

A Tale of Two Consolation Pods
A coincidence perhaps, or an ingrained part of the New York City-centric history of the NIT, but two of the three consolation pods (and the Championship Bracket) will be played in states along the Atlantic seaboard. Consistent with the protocol for (real) tournaments, pod play will dominate the early part of Thanksgiving Week, Monday and Tuesday nights, yielding the late week spotlight to the games of the Championship Bracket. The Semi-final will be played Wednesday night, with the Final (and Third Place game) scheduled for Friday night.

The Washington DC Pod
The two "North" pod 1-1 finishers, Boston University (NEC) and George Washington University (A-10 -- the pod host) will square off against Nevada, a 21 game winner and NIT team last season, and the Pirates of Hampton University (MEAC). Asking GW to take the hosting responsibilities was a nice touch. Although the A-10 representative lost their primary scorer Lasan Kromah just before the tournament, they have a renovated facility in the nation's capital. Nothing says Thanksgiving like a holiday in the nation's capital. And the Colonials have a brand new Daktronics scoreboard in their renovated on campus arena.

Washington DC
TeamPaceAdj OffAdj DefPWP
George Washington67.4102.497.60.635
Boston University68.6103.9100.30.600

Breakdown of the Monday night games...

Boston University81.567.310+

Of Villanova's four opponents this season, Boston University has played the Wildcats tightest. Matt Griffen, Jake O'Brien and John Holland should have a good night at the Terriers take this by double digits. The overcard will feature GW and their WAC guests from Nevada

George Washington73.4@7?

Pomeroy's Pythagorean Winning Percentages are still heavily influenced by Pomeroy's preseason calibration, so Lasan Kromah's loss is still not reflected in the offensive/defensive efficiencies. Coach Karl Hobbs will look to veterans Tony Taylor, Joseph Katuka, Aaron Ware and red shirt Jabari Edwards to fill in the gaps left by Kromah. Hopefully the sophomore will recover soon.

The former North Pod teams will swap guests for their Tuesday night games...

Boston University70.5@5-6?

This promises to be the highest possession game of the pod, with both teams geared to shoot early in the possession. Nevada however is in danger of finishing this tournament 0-4, as neither of these games looks close.

George Washington83.610+?

Hampton, though sporting a 1-1 record out of the East Pod (they beat Winthrop in their second round game at Winston-Salem), Hampton brings the lowest PWP to this pod. Too bad they were not matched with Nevada, not possible because the other two teams played in the first round of pod play. It might be a bit ugly to watch, but it would be closer than any of the four scheduled games.

If the teams play to their PWPs, expect BU and GW to finish the tournament with 3-1 records, while Hampton can console itself with a single win over Winthrop, Nevada would go winless. Brutal for the cross country trip.

The Winston-Salem Pod
If the Pythagorean Winning Percentage is an accurate measure, this is the weakest of the three consolation pods. The irony is that it is simultaneously the most diverse in terms of team strength. The pairings also virtually two nights of near blowout basketball with as the least competitive potential match-ups were made. Rank has it's privileges apparently.

Winston-Salem, NC
TeamPaceAdj OffAdj DefPWP
Wake Forest (host)71.9101.299.60.545

Although Winthrop and Wake were grouped in the East Pod, they did not play. The organizers (and Wake as the pod host?) decided to match them this time around. Those two will trade off Belmont and Marist on Monday and Tuesday. Breakdown of the Monday night games...


Marist is the weakest team in the field, and the log5 projection shows they will lose again Monday night. Heavily. Hopefully Coach Martin can use this experience to mature his squad and get them ready for MAAC play.

Wake Forest71.9@8?

Though seeded #3 and given hosting responsibilities in the preliminary round, Wake struggled with Hampton in their first round game, and fell to Virginia Commonwealth in the second round. Given pod host responsibilities again, the tournament organizers appear to want the Demon Deacons to have the best opportunity to finish with a 3-1 record as well. The Eagles represented the Big South Conference in the NCAAs last March, but coach Randy Peele, entering his fourth season at Winthrop, faces a rebuilding year. The Eagles started slow last season and managed to make the Dance, maybe they can again this season.

Tuesday night games...

On paper this is a near-blowout of the Big South representative by a lower ranked conference opponent. Belmont is good and will probably finish this tournament with a 3-1 record that includes a good loss to Tennessee (by nine points on the Vols' home court), and three blowout wins over lesser opponents. This would have to be a confidence builder for the Atlantic Sun Conference representative. The Nashville, TN school has to be favored to take the conference championship this season.

Wake Forest85.0@10+?

This should be good entertainment for the Deacon faithful, as they will watch their team in an up tempo game blowing out a lesser opponent. Hopefully they can hold onto that memory, as it might be the high point of their season.

The most interesting match-up of the pod is the one that will not be played -- Wake vs Belmont. For giggles I ran the log5 numbers for that game and came up with Belmont favored, 74.8-25.2, in a very high tempo game (about 74 possessions), with the Bears mauling the Deacons by double digits. It is a shame, because low majors get very few opportunities outside of invitational tournaments like this one (where the organizers have some say in the match-ups) to take a good shot at a power conference team. Maybe Wake ran the log5 numbers too, before they decided on the pairings.

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