Preview of SEC Teams in 2011 NIT
After the NCAA Tournament brackets were announced The National Invitational Tournament announced the teams that will which teams will compete for the NIT Championship. Alabama and Mississippi will look to bring the NIT Championship back to the SEC for the first time since South Carolina won back to back titles in 2005 and 2006.
Alabama is a number one seed and will host every game they play in before the final four. They will open up play against Coastal Carolina out of the Big South. They were 28-5 on the year, but went south at the end of the year after reports that the NCAA were looking into the program. They went on to lose in the Big South Tournament and the automatic bid to UNC-Asheville in the conference tournament.
If they get by Coastal Carolina, they will host New Mexico or UTEP. New Mexico lost in the Mountain West Conference semi-finals to BYU and UTEP lost to Memphis in the Conference USA Tournament finals. If they get to the regional finals, they will likely host the Miami Hurricanes out of the ACC.
The key for Alabama will be defense. They were one of the best defensive teams in the country and the best overall in the SEC keeping teams to under 60 points a game during the regular season. Their main problem is scoring. That was on full display against Kentucky in the SEC tournament. With JaMychal Green in foul trouble and Tony Mitchell hurt in the first half, the Tide offense struggled and Kentucky pulled away.
Alabama will have benefit of the home crowd and have shown that they can make shots at home where they are undefeated this season. I like the Tide to make it to New York for the NIT Final Four.
The road to Madison Square Garden is a little tougher for Mississippi. They are a 5 seed in Colorado’s bracket and will have to play on the road. They will travel to the west coast and play California in the NIT first round.
The one area that Ole Miss has an advantage is in the back court. With senior All-SEC Chris Warren and fellow senior Zach Graham, the Rebels have experienced guards who have been through just about everything in the SEC. Unfortunately after those two, the Rebels do not have much else to offer offensively. This would be a great opportunity for an under classman to step up to show what they can do for next year. Some one like junior Terrence Henry or sophomore Reginald Buckner.
Even if the Rebels can get past California, they face another long travel if 1 seed Colorado wins. I think all the traveling will catch up to Mississippi before they have a chance to play in New York. I see them winning at California, but will probably not make it past Colorado in the next round.
So keep your eyes on the NIT Tournament SEC fans and we will see if Alabama or Ole Miss can make it to New York.
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