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2013 NIT Tournament Championship Preview: Baylor Bears vs. Iowa Hawkeyes

Joe Camporeale-USA Today Sports

The 2013 NIT Tournament will wrap up on Thursday night and while the focus in college basketball remains on this Saturday’s NCAA Tournament Final Four contests, let’s not forget that one of these two teams in the NIT will end their season with a banner.

After advancing past BYU in the semifinal round, the Baylor Bears are looking to end their season on a positive note after a complete collapse late in conference play virtually took them out of the NCAA Tournament discussion. As for their opponent on Thursday night, well Baylor is currently preparing for the Iowa Hawkeyes, who advanced past Maryland on Tuesday night.

It’s a Big 12 vs. Big Ten showdown for all the marbles in the NIT, so college basketball fans can surely expect a hard-fought contest.

 

Watch to Watch For:

Baylor point guard Pierre Jackson continues to star even though he wishes his senior season was ending in the NCAA Tournament rather than the NIT. Fresh off a 24-point, ten assist performance in the team’s semifinal win over BYU, Jackson will clearly be the most talented player on the court on Thursday night. Iowa must find a way to slow down his attack, but the problem is not many teams have been able to do that this year.

Iowa built themselves a nice back court advantage in their victory over Maryland, getting 33 combined points from Roy Devyn Marble and Eric May, so the Hawkeyes do have the weapons to counter Jackson’s potential. With that being said however, the battle down low is going to be crucial. Cory Jefferson scored 21 points on Tuesday night for the Bears, while Isaiah Austin is a legit 7-footer who can spread the floor. Iowa needs to be ready to defend or Baylor will walk away with this one.

 

Prediction:

If Iowa can slow down Jackson, they will have a chance to win this ball game. Baylor is limited in terms of scorers, so they rely heavily on Jackson and the inside production of both Jefferson and Austin. Brady Heslip could be an x-factor due to his lights out shooting ability, so we will see how Iowa defends the back court with Marble and May.

 

Thursday Night’s Prediction- Baylor 72, Iowa 64

 

Follow Paul Seaver on Twitter: @PaulSeaverRS