2013 NIT Tournament Championship Preview: Five Players to Watch

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2013 NIT Tournament Championship Preview

Joe Camporeale-USA Today Sports

We are just two days away from the Final Four, but on Thursday night the focus turns to New York City and Madison Square Garden.

Well, maybe.

We do know that Iowa fans and Baylor fans will surely be tuned in on Thursday night as the Hawkeyes and Bears square off from beautiful Madison Square Garden. The right to hang a banner in their respectful rafters is on the line as a champion will be crowned on Thursday night.

Iowa made a late push at a berth within the NCAA Tournament, but the Hawkeyes came up just short. Now, Iowa is looking to take home the NIT Tournament championship after advancing to the title game with a win over Maryland on Tuesday.

As for Baylor, well the Bears were considered to be bound for the Big Dance around mid-to-late January, then a late collapse within conference play put Baylor on the outside, looking in. Baylor advanced to the championship game of the NIT by knocking off BYU in the semifinal round.

From Pierre Jackson to Roy Devyn Marble, there's undoubtedly some talent to watch for in Thursday night's title game, but who will play a key in spurring victory?

Let's take a look at five players to watch for in Thursday night's NIT Tournament Championship:

For a full breakdown and preview of the championship game, click here.

Follow Paul Seaver on Twitter: @PaulSeaverRS

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No. 5- Isaiah Austin (Baylor)

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This 7-foot-1 freshman has been pretty solid for Baylor all season long and he is averaging 11.3 points per game in the NIT thus far. Isaiah Austin has size and can stretch the floor and actually shot from beyond the arc and that's not typical of your 7-foot freshmen. Austin has X-Factor written all over him in this one.

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No. 4- Aaron White (Iowa)

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Aaron White is the Hawkeyes' second leading scorer and top rebounder on the year, but 6-foot-8 forward has not been shooting the ball particularly well. White is 9-of-27 from the field in the NIT Tournament, which albeit is not horrible, it's also not that great. We will see if White can convert on a higher pace from the field in this one.

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No. 3- Cory Jefferson (Baylor)

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Cory Jefferson has had a terrific junior season and the 6-foot-9 forward has been terrific in the NIT Tournament. Jefferson is averaging 20.8 points per game through the postseason and Iowa better figure out a way to slow him down on Thursday night.

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No. 2- Roy Devyn Marble (Iowa)

Peter Casey-USA Today Sports

Roy Devyn Marble is the top play maker for the Iowa Hawkeyes, averaging 15.2 points per game this season. If the Hawkeyes are going to win a championship on Thursday night, Marble is going to be the main reason why. The 6-foot-6 wing is averaging 24.3 points per game in the NIT Tournament.

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No. 1- Pierre Jackson (Baylor)

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The 5-foot-10 Pierre Jackson is playing in his final game in a Baylor uniform on Thursday night, so big expectations can be expected. Jackson has recorded three straight double-doubles heading into the championship contest and the senior point guard is averaging 20.3 points and 11.3 assists per game.

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