Eleven. (Or twelve, if Nevada wins tomorrow.) That's how many games remain before we pack up the nets and the echoes of squeaking rubber subside for another long summer. Tonight, we crowned one post-season champion and set up two other finals.
Valparaiso rolled out to a 16-point lead in their NIT semifinal tilt with BYU, then managed to squander every bit of it. A David Skara three with 20 seconds left saved the Crusaders (30-6), who will advance to Thursday's final against George Washington. The Colonials (27-10) rolled over San Diego State in the second game, setting up an NIT final between two teams which have never won a national post-season tournament of any kind -- and although we were already assured of this when the night started, it's also worth pointing out that for the first time since Wichita State's 2011 title, the NIT will be won by a team outside the Power 5.
The other final which was set tonight was out in Vegas, where both games were brutal routs. Oakland, like their current archrivals and Horizon League partners Valparaiso, are getting their first crack at a national post-season title. Old Dominion, on the other hand, has been here before; the Monarchs won the NCAA Division II title way back in 1975, and won the initial CIT in 2009.
The big news on the night, however, was that other game in New York -- the one that wasn't played at Madison Square Garden. The last time a Division I school from New York City won a post-season title that still counts was in 1989, when Saint John's won the NIT. (They also won in 2003, but were forced to vacate the title due to CHEETIN'.) Last night, that streak was ended by an unlikely candidate. A 21-4 run by the Columbia Lions midway through the second half erased a five-point deficit, and the Ivies held on to win their league's second post-season title ever. (Princeton won the NIT in 1975.)
|NATIONAL INVITATION TOURNAMENT|
|NATL SF||(VAL 1) Valparaiso 72, (SBU 2) Brigham Young 70||Kyle Collinsworth (BYU), 20|
|NATL SF||(MON 4) George Washington 65, (SC 2) San Diego State 46||Tyler Cavanaugh (GWU), 20|
|CHAMPIONSHIP||Columbia 73, Cal-Irvine 67||Grant Mullins (COL), 20|
|SF||Old Dominion 64, Cal-Santa Barbara 49||Aaron Bacote (ODU), 26|
|SF||Oakland 104, East Tennessee State 81||Kay Felder (OAK), 29|
For the third day in a row, about one-third of the remaining games on the schedule flutter off the tree. One tournament conclusively ends (the Vegas 16), one might (the CBI), and on the women's side we get the first of the two WNIT semifinals. In keeping with the historical perspective we introduced today, we'll note that neither Morehead State nor Nevada has ever won a national title either.
|COLLEGE BASKETBALL INVITATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES|
|GAME 2||8:00pm||Morehead State||at||Nevada||Reno NV||ESPNU|
|CHAMPIONSHIP||9:00pm||Old Dominion||Oakland||Las Vegas NV||CBSSN|
|WOMEN'S NATIONAL INVITATION TOURNAMENT|
|SF||7:00pm||Oregon||South Dakota||Vermillion SD||ESPN3|