The NIT tip-off features teams that will most likely be on the bubble this year. All four schools rank between 30-55 in the Kenpom ratings, which is prime bubble territory. This will be a great opportunity for these teams to build their resume for March.
Dates: November 27-29,2019
Location: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York
Ole Miss vs. Penn State
Oklahoma State vs. Syracuse
The Nittany Lions are off to a 5-0 start including a win over Georgetown. This might be the best chance for Penn State to make the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2011. Their defense ranks in the top-25 in efficiency, according to Kenpom. They’re led by senior forward Lamar Stevens who averages 16.8 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. Penn State is a slight favorite to win this tournament.
Good luck going up against the Syracuse zone defense. Since their opening-season loss to Virginia, they’ve rattles off four straight wins, and have held opponents to 53.6 points per game this season. Elijah Hughes has been their go-to scorer this season as he’s averaged 17.2 points per game. Their zone defense should get them past Oklahoma State in the first-round.
Oklahoma State starts the season 5-0. However, their best win has been against Yale, so this tournament should be a good litmus test to see how good they are. Their defense has been winning games, as they struggle on the offensive end. They rank 213th in effective field-goal percentage according to Kenpom. Also, the Cowboys are below average in three-point shooting, which could hurt them against Syracuse.
Ole Miss is another team that has a tough defense to score on.The Rebels are holding teams to 59 points per game this season. However, their schedule has been fairly weak. In their four wins, none of the teams ranked above 200, and they lost to Memphis without James Wiseman in their one tough game. They also turn the ball over quite a bit on offense, which could be a problem against Penn State.
Penn State and Syracuse should win their games. The Syracuse defense is hard to get around unless their opponent can hit shots. Oklahoma State hasn’t been able to do that this year, so Syracuse should get passed them. The Nittany Lions ability to force turnovers will be how they beat Ole Miss. The Rebels rank 216th in turnover percentage, and Penn State ranks 40th in forcing turnovers.
Potential final matchup
If Syracuse and Penn State do matchup in the finals, don’t expect many points from either side. Both teams rely on their defense to win games, so this should be a low-scoring event. Penn State may have the slight advantage, as they rely heavier on turnovers. If they can force Syracuse to turn the ball over, that could be the difference in this game.