NIT: Norfolk State vs Colorado Prediction
Norfolk State vs Colorado Preview
Colorado (22-12) will hit the CU Events Center floor one last time Monday night, when they play host to Norfolk State (22-13) in a second-round NIT matchup.
The Spartans knocked off No. 1 seed Alabama on Wednesday night in overtime, 80-79, seven years after pulling off one of the biggest upsets in the NCAA Tournament as a No. 15 seed against No. 2 seed Missouri.
“The fact that we’re a Power Five school or a Pac-12 school means nothing to Norfolk State,” Boyle said. “Those kids relish that opportunity and thrive on it — as they should. College basketball is about competing. Norfolk State competes.”
A win would send the Buffs to Austin, Texas, on Wednesday for a third-round game against the Longhorns. A loss would send the Buffs home for spring break.
Colorado’s players aren’t ready for a vacation.
“These are my brothers and I love playing with them,” CU sophomore point guard McKinley Wright IV said late last week. “I want to play with them as long as I can. Obviously it’s going to come to an end when everybody graduates, so you try to cherish every moment and be thankful to be on the court with them.”
The Buffs, earned the No. 4 seed in their bracket quadrant, and advanced via a 78-73 home win over Dayton last Tuesday.
The Spartans have the nation’s most accurate 3-point shooter this season in guard Derrik Jamerson. The 6-5 senior has hit 92 of his 179 attempts from beyond the arc this year (51.4 percent), including a 7-for-13 effort in a 25-point performance against Alabama.
Coach Rob Jones‘ team also rebounds well, despite not having a starter taller than 6-foot-8. The Spartans had 49 rebounds against Alabama, including 21 on the offensive glass, which they converted into 22 points.
“I don’t think they’re maybe as tall and athletic as some of the teams we’ve played, but certainly as physical and tough as the teams we’ve played — and that’s really what rebounding is,” Boyle said. “It’s physicality, it’s toughness, it’s boxing out, it’s going to get balls with two hands, going to get balls out of your areas, long rebounds. That’s going to be a challenge for us.”
The Buffs should be healthy for the game. Sophomore forward Tyler Bey had a scare against Dayton when he left the floor with a lower leg injury, but he returned later in the game and showed no ill effects in practice.
The key in the NIT, Wright said, isn’t a secret. Every team involved would rather be playing in the NCAA Tournament — but with a chance to keep playing and a trip to Madison Square Garden within each team’s grasp, there is plenty at stake.
At 74.1 points per game, NSU is on pace for its highest scoring average since the 1999-2000 season (76.0) and the third highest in the D-I era. Its +4.7 scoring margin is also on pace to top the previous D-I best of +3.9 set in 2014-15. In addition, the team’s 71.6 percent clip from the free throw line currently stands as the third-best in the D-I era behind the second-best mark of 72.0 in 2003-04.
LINE: -14.5 Colorado
Dan’s Bet: +14.5 Norfolk State
Score Prediction: Colorado 75 Norfolk State 68