They may have been snubbed by the selection committee, but the Clemson Tigers and Florida State Seminoles can get some satisfaction out of the college basketball season by winning the 2014 National Invitation Tournament. The Tigers and Seminoles have both reached the semifinals, and with a pair of victories on Tuesday, they can make it an all-ACC final at Madison Square Garden.
Clemson secured its spot in the NIT semis this past Tuesday with a 73-68 victory over the Belmont Bruins, although it was Belmont cashing in as a 7-point underdog. That leaves the Tigers at 2-3 against the spread in postseason play and 15-12-3 ATS for the full year. They’ll have to beat the spread this time if they want to survive; next up are the No. 1 overall seeds in the NIT, the Southern Methodist Mustangs, who are laying 2.5 points as we go to press.
The Mustangs, coached by none other than Larry Brown, were the No. 25 team in the AP rankings at the end of the regular season, but they lost in the first round of the inaugural American Athletic Conference tournament to the Houston Cougars (+9.5) and ended up on the wrong side of the NCAA Tournament bubble. Despite the disappointment, SMU has covered two of its three NIT victories thus far to improve to 19-12 ATS on the season and 15-7 ATS over the past 22 games.
Clemson and MSU will be tipping off at 7 p.m., followed by the nightcap between Florida State (18-14-1 ATS) and the Minnesota Golden Gophers (15-15-1 ATS). The Seminoles had the misfortune of running into the mighty Virginia Cavaliers at the ACC tourney, but they powered their way to the NIT semis with a 78-75 victory over the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (+3).
The early lines have this matchup as a pick ’em, but how competitive will it truly be? The ‘Noles check in at No. 38 (No. 42 offense, No. 59 defense) on Ken Pomeroy’s efficiency charts after playing one of the toughest schedules in Division I — courtesy of the stacked ACC. The No. 54 Gophers (No. 39 offense, No. 100 defense) weren’t tested quite as rigorously in the Big Ten, and they were crushed by the Wisconsin Badgers in the conference tourney.
Minnesota still can’t be taken lightly after three straight NIT wins at 2-1 ATS. The Gophers did pick up a pair of victories earlier this year over the Badgers and the Ohio State Buckeyes, winning both times as 3-point home dogs. It boils down to whether or not they can hit their threes. Andre Hollins (35.8 percent) and Austin Hollins (33.1 percent) both finished in the Big Ten’s top 10 this year for made 3-pointers, but as a team, Minnesota is just No. 145 in Division I at 34.5 percent from behind the arc. How do they do it? Volume, volume, volume.
Tip-off from the Garden is slated for 9:30 p.m.
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