Monday Night in CBB we will see the Massachusetts Minutemen travel south take on the Mississippi State Bulldogs in the first round of the NIT Tournament. The game is scheduled for a 7 pm tipoff and will be televised live on ESPN2. Currently Mississippi State is favored by 7 points with the total being set at 154 for the game. The first round of the 2012 National Invitation Tournament is set to tip off tonight in Starkville, as the fourth-seeded Mississippi State Bulldogs play host to the fifth-seeded Massachusetts Minutemen.
Free Analysis: A pair of teams whose bubble burst on Selection Sunday face off in Starkville, Miss., in the opening round of the NIT. At 22-11 overall, the Minutemen reached the 20-win plateau for the first time since the 2007-08 season. UMass finished fifth in the Atlantic 10 Conference and it had a solid run in the league tourney, knocking off Duquesne in the first round and upsetting top-seeded Temple in the quarterfinals before losing to eventual champion St. Bonaventure in the semis. The Minutemen hope to repeat their last appearance in the NIT, when they reached the 2008 championship game before falling to Ohio State. UMass had the A-10's most potent scoring attack with 76.8 ppg, and though it shoots a modest 43.3 percent from the field, it is aided by prolific three- point shooting, draining 265 long-range shots at a 35.5 percent clip. The Minutemen also bring positive contributions to both rebounding margin (+0.6) and turnover margin (+1.82), although what ultimately held them back from further success was their porous defense, which allowed 71.9 ppg, third-worst in the conference. The catalyst for the squad is Chaz Williams, who was one of the A-10's most dynamic players, ranking seventh in scoring (16.4 ppg), third in steals (2.3 spg) and first in assists (6.4 apg). Although he wasn't the most efficient shooter (.396 FG percentage), he got to the foul line nearly six times per game while shooting an impressive 79.6 from the stripe. Raphiael Putney (10.3 ppg) and Jesse Morgan (10.2 ppg) provide ample offensive support. Mississippi State's 21-11 record looks impressive on the surface, but it was a disappointing season for a team that had NCAA Tournament aspirations. At 19-5 and ranked in the Top 25 just one month ago, the Bulldogs looked like a lock to make the NCAAs. But the wheels fell off for Rick Stansbury’s club, and the coach could face some heat if the Bulldogs can’t put together at least a couple of victories in the NIT. Mississippi State had one of the best inside-outside tandems in the SEC in Arnett Moultrie and Dee Bost. The 6-11 Moultrie is a beast in the middle, ranking in the top-five in the conference in both scoring (15.8 ppg) and field goal percentage (.551), while ripping down a league-high 10.6 rpg. Bost falls just short of Moultrie's scoring pace with 15.6 ppg, and he also chips in 2.0 spg, 2.2 three-pointers per tilt, and hands out a conference-best 5.3 apg. The duo has been prone to turnovers however, combining for more than five per game, which is a big reason why the Bulldogs have a turnover margin of -1.22. Rodney Hood (10.3 ppg) and Renardo Sidney (9.9 ppg) do their part for an offense that generates 71.3 ppg on 45.5 percent shooting from the floor. Although MSU's scoring defense is much better than UMass's (66.7 ppg), it was not up to snuff in the SEC, ranking next-to-last. This tilt marks the first-ever meeting between these two programs, although both appeared in the 1996 NCAA Final Four. The winner plays Seton Hall or Stony Brook in the second round.
Free Pick: I like the Minutemen here. Both teams had aspirations of making the NCAA Tourney, but I feel the sting ids felt more on the side of the Bulldogs and several players have stated that this is not where they want to be. The Bulldogs have struggled down the stretch as they won just 2 of heir last 8 games, which includes 2 losses to Georgia. The last one was a 10 point loss inj the first round of the SEC tournament. If you can't get up for Georgia in that game then how will you get up for UMass in this one. The Minnutemen are disappointed about the snub as well, but this is still a team that would love to build some confidence for the future and what better way than vs an SEC school. These two teams have a lot in common, with strong offenses and suspect defenses fueled by star players, but the MInutemen want to be here, while Mississippi state is less than thrilled. This one should go down to the wire.
Betting Strategy - NCAA Perfect Bracket OddsPregame host RJ Bell and Pregame Pro Marco D'Angelo discuss the odds of having a PERFECT NCAA Bracket. This video should bring light to this topic for those of you thinking you can get a Perfect bracket.