In the first round of the NIT, the preseason NIT champions, the No. 1 seeded Alabama Crimson Tide, take on the No. 8 seeded Northeastern Huskies. The Crimson Tide have an opportunity to sweep both of the NIT tournaments this season.
Alabama just couldn’t beat Florida. The Crimson Tide’s record against the Gators is what really kept Anthony Grant’s team out of the NCAA tournament. Trevor Releford and Trevor Lacey will return next year, meaning that Alabama will return one of the best teams in the SEC. The Crimson Tide will feel like they deserved an NCAA tournament berth over some of the teams that made it and will fight hard to end the season with some sort of trophy.
Northeastern won the Colonial Athletic Association’s outright regular season title, but fell to James Madison in the conference championship. The loss meant that James Madison stole the automatic bid for the NCAA tournament and the Huskies went to the NIT. Northeastern is a great team and could pull off the biggest upset of the NIT (Alabama has had problems with mid-major conference teams all season).
Alabama will win this game, but not by much. Expect the Huskies to put up a good fight, but Releford and Lacey to be too much to handle. A late three will decide this game, and the team to advance will be whoever has the better three point percentage. Both of these teams deserved to make the NCAA tournament, so expect a hard fought game and the margin of victory to be two possessions or less.