No matter whether Auburn should have made the NCAA Tournament or not is all out the window now. We did not make it. Period. Now let’s move on. The Tigers start their chances tonight at Beard Eaves, but can we make the Final Four of the NIT?
I really, really do not want to be one of these teams that is on the NCAA bubble and then lays an egg in the NIT. Don’t get me wrong the NIT will always be the bastard step child, but this year the NIT has some real talent in it. There are quite a few teams that in my opinion have a better case for the NCAAs than some of the teams that got in. Let’s look a bit closer at who could make the NIT Final Four.
Penn State (22-11) is the biggest one in my opinion. How Florida (23-10) got a number one seed over Penn State is beyond me. The Nittney Lions were left out when Minnesota and Michigan were allowed in. Both Minnesota and Michigan finished behind Penn State in the Big Ten (Eleven). Look for them to make it out of that bracket beating Providence (19-13) to reach the NIT Final Four.
St Mary’s (26-6) could win the NIT if Patty Mills plays like his pre-injured self. The Gales are for real. I see St Mary’s playing San Diego State (23-9) for the rights to the NIT Final Four in that bracket.
Creighton had 26 wins in the regular season. They should have made the NCAAs, the killer for them was the beating they took in the first round of the conference tournament. I have them matched up with Kentucky (20-13) in the second round and UAB (22-11) in the third round and Creighton winning both to make it to the final four.
Auburns bracket is rough. The entire bracket is rough for that matter.
Auburn (22-11) takes on UT Martin (22-9) and they have the player of the year in the conference, and can put up points. I see Auburn winning this one at home, although the crowd will be light due to spring break.
Northwestern (17-13) is a team that Auburn could face if both win their opening round game. This team reminds me of Auburn in the fact that they were left for dead, and fought back. They are a scrappy bunch that plays with heart. Sound familiar?
If Tulsa (24-10) beats Northwestern, that will be Auburns foe. Tulsa won 24 games in Conference Memphis, I mean Conference USA. They are very good. The Tigers will have to play their best to win this one.
Baylor (20-14) played to the finals in the Big XII tourney. They can shoot the three very well. I wonder if they have played too hard to keep advancing in any tourney, and they get the well rested Georgetown(16-14). The Hoyas have been a heard team to read this season. They started off like gang busters and finished terrible. I see the Hoyas pulling out a squeaker.
Virginia Tech (18-14) is another team that could have made the NCAAs. They beat some of the top ACC teams this season in Wake Forest and Clemson. The Hokies match up against Duquesne (21-12). The Dukes finished second in the A10 Tourney getting beat by Temple. I am taking the Hokies.
I am taking Auburn and Virginia Tech for the rights to the NIT Final Four. Auburn will have to battle with Tulsa to get there, but I have faith in our Tigers.
So the NIT Final Four is set in my bracket. Auburn, St Mary’s, Creighton and Penn State. Who pulls it out? We shall see.
War Damn Eagle