NIT Season Tip-off 2014: Updated Schedule, TV Info, Live Stream and Predictions

After getting Thanksgiving Day off, the NIT Season Tip-Off will resume Friday with the championship rounds. 

Whether the players watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, spent time with their families, or just stayed in and watched football, they had better be rested, because the final day of action is certain to be intense.

Minnesota and Georgia want to be able to leave New York City with at least one win in two tries, while Gonzaga and St. John’s want to add a tournament title to their resumes early in the season.

With all four teams giving it their all, the atmosphere at Madison Square Garden is certain to be exciting. Here is everything you need to know about the remaining games.

 

Minnesota vs. Georgia

When: Nov. 28 at 4:30 p.m. ET

Where: Madison Square Garden, New York City

TV: ESPNU

Live Stream: Watch ESPN

Minnesota had to be disappointed in a missed opportunity already in this tournament, losing in the semifinals to St. John’s and being forced to settle for a chance at third place.

Marcus R. Fuller of the Pioneer Press discussed a key to victory coming into the week:

Unfortunately, Andre Hollins managed to go just 3-of-12 from the field, including 1-of-6 from behind the arc, to total nine points in the loss. The senior also had seven of the team’s 20 turnovers in what was simply an awful offensive day for Minnesota.

The good news is Georgia will not be as scary defensively when the teams play Friday. The Bulldogs like to push the tempo, but they don’t have the athletes St. John’s has up and down its roster. 

Look for a bounce-back performance from Hollins and DeAndre Mathieu as they figure out how to do a better job of holding on to the ball.

On the other end of the court, Charles Mann will be able to light up the scoreboard, but unless he gets more help from Marcus Thornton and others, this will be another high-scoring loss for Georgia.

Prediction: Minnesota 79, Georgia 76

 

St. John’s vs. Gonzaga

When: Nov. 28 at 7 p.m. ET

Where: Madison Square Garden, New York City

TV: ESPN2

Live Stream: Watch ESPN

It’s been a while since the crowd at Madison Square Garden had a lot to cheer for when it came to St. John’s. However, the current squad looks like it will once again be a force in the Big East (yes, it technically still plays in the Big East).

The Red Storm earned an impressive win over Minnesota, showcasing quality defense with everyone who stepped onto the court contributing in some way. Head coach Steve Lavin took to Twitter after the game to discuss his squad’s effort:

The performance was not perfect—the team had 18 turnovers and shot under 40 percent from the field—but it showed there is still room to grow.

Unfortunately, that growing is unlikely to take place by the end of the weekend, which means the squad could be in trouble against one of the top teams in the country in Gonzaga.

While it’s always fun to overlook the WCC team, the current roster is stacked full of players who know how to light up the scoreboard. Kyle Wiltjer leads a lineup of five players averaging double figures, and the group is brought together by point guard Kevin Pangos.

Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports notes how well the senior is playing this season:

This game will turn into a track meet, as both teams are willing to move quickly up and down the court. However, Gonzaga is more likely to hold on to the ball and make its shots, giving the Bulldogs an advantage throughout.

Prediction: Gonzaga 85, St. John’s 71

 

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Amick: Thunder’s season is already on the brink

The loss of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook has put this West power in must-win mode.

      
 

 

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10 Most Head-Turning Stats So Far in the 2014-15 NCAA Basketball Season

Most college basketball teams have only played about 15 percent of the games on their 2014-15 schedule, but that’s the perfect time to go searching for head-turning stats that put players on the national radar.

Few things about numbers are more fun than extrapolating small sample sizes. Using current college basketball stats to predict future events is roughly the equivalent of looking at an NFL quarterback’s stats after Week 2, multiplying by eight and calling it a season.

We all know it’s stupid, but we all do it anyway.

There won’t be any extrapolating here, though. We’re merely pointing out statistics that make you feel like you need to check the game log to make sure they’re accurate.

We found numbers like Indiana’s James Blackmon Jr. shooting 64.3 percent from three-point range and averaging better than 20 points per game—making him the highest-scoring freshman in the nation. Through the end of play on Monday, he was the only player in the country shooting at least 58 percent from behind the arc while attempting at least 25 triples.

And his start to the season isn’t anywhere near as ridiculous as some of the ones listed here.

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How have the Orlando Magic performed this season so far?

Nikola Vucevic and Tobias Harris are leading the young Orlando team to a 6-11 start.

The Orlando Magic entered this season with mlid expectations. The verdict was that they certainly have a plethora of young talent, but their players are still way too young and inexperienced to compete for a playoff spot. So far they’ve matched their expectations, for the most part anyways.
Days before the start of the season the Magic locked up their center Nikola Vucevic for the future by signing him to a 4-year deal worth $53 million. So far Vucevic has been worth every penny as he is averaging 18.8 points and 12.2 rebounds per game, both are good for the team lead.
Orlando’s other ace has been 22-year-old forward Tobias Harris. Harris really broke out when he was traded to the Magic in January of 2013 but he seems to be elevating his game to a new level this year. Harris is posting 18.6 points and 8.5 rebounds per game, and one of the most noticeable improvements in Harris’ game has been three point shooting. La

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Wizards vs. Cavaliers: Score and Twitter Reaction from 2014 Regular Season

The Cleveland Cavaliers needed a quality victory to truly get on course for a rise toward the top of the Eastern Conference. They achieved that in an impressive 113-87 win over the Washington Wizards at Quicken Loans Arena on Wednesday.

Washington entered the evening second in the East, while Cleveland, though coming off a blowout win over Orlando, hovered below .500.

Cavs superstar LeBron James led by example, stuffing the stat sheet with 29 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists and three steals. He sank 14 of 17 free throws and provided the stable, high level of play this young team’s nucleus needs to learn how to win.

Fox Sports Ohio’s Sam Amico felt Cleveland put together its best overall effort of the young 2014-15 NBA campaign:

Keith Britton of 92.3 The Fan had a similar take:

Anderson Varejao (10 points, seven rebounds) knows how to click with James thanks to their time together in James’ previous Cleveland stint. Conrad Kaczmarek of NBA.com observed this phenomenon as James fed Varejao for a ton of easy buckets in the first half:

James is trying to deliver a championship for his home team, and while he has two fellow All-Stars in Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving flanking him, they’ve never played in the postseason.

ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst documented James’ thoughts before the Cavs rattled off their two most recent wins:

I’m a winner, I want to win, and I want to win now. It’s not tomorrow, it’s not down the line, I want to win now. So it’s a fine line for me, but I understand what we’re enduring right now. …

… I have a low tolerance for things of this nature. So it’s something I’m working on, as well, which I knew from the beginning that that was going to be my biggest test to see how much patience I’ve got.

That killer instinct and mindset to get the job done are characteristics James exuded Wednesday, attacking the Wizards and getting to the free-throw line frequently.

Cleveland.com’s Chris Haynes noted how James set the tone from the start, sparking the Cavs to a 31-18 lead after the first quarter:

Zach Love of Grantland noticed how the Cavs made adjustments on defense to stymie the Wizards, whose dynamic backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal combined for 16 points on 16 shot attempts:

Cavs.com’s Joe Gabriele weighed in:

Rasual Butler led the Wizards with 23 points off the bench, but the Cavs did an admirable job shutting down most of Washington’s top offensive threats.

Love has had a rocky start to his time in Cleveland, yet he was far more proficient versus Washington and shot 7-of-10 from the field with 21 points.

Wizards star Paul Pierce started to go to the bucket often himself in the third quarter with Washington down 58-46 by halftime. Bob Finnan of The News-Herald noted how the veteran was rising to the challenge, while Irving was struggling in the big game:

But that dynamic didn’t hurt the Cavs overall. Irving turned it on in the fourth as a scorer to finish with 18 points and was still helping facilitate improved execution in the half-court offense before his late surge.

Passions were high, as the home crowd was in full support of the energized Cleveland squad—and even head coach David Blatt implored the fans, per the Akron Beacon Journal‘s Jason Lloyd:

Now the Cavs have some serious momentum to build on ahead of a favorable stretch of their schedule. Before a road trip to Toronto on December 5, Cleveland faces Indiana, Milwaukee and New York, with a golden opportunity to vault up the East standings.

Zac Jackson of Fox Sports Ohio brought up a relevant point regarding the Cavs’ ongoing search for synergy:

One alarming development is the volume of shots Dion Waiters takes off the bench.

Waiters, who missed 11 of a team-high 17 attempts from the field, has dubious shot selection and must be more of a complementary player given the superior talent on his team. The fact that Waiters had six assists is a good sign moving forward, though.

Bouncing back from Wednesday’s loss right away won’t be simple for the Wizards. They open a four-game homestand against New Orleans and Miami, then play the Los Angeles Lakers before taking on the streaking Denver Nuggets.

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What NBA player is having the best season so far?

NBA reporters Sam Amick and Jeff Zillgitt discuss who’s off to the best start

      
 

 

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The 76ers Sixers’ Season Summed Up in 1 Damian Lillard 3-Pointer

I’ve gone on at some length in regards to the frozen hellscape of contrived awfulness that is the 2014-15 Philadelphia 76ers.

We could spend a fortnight slamming nails in this team and its overwrought plans of self-sabotage. A dissertation could be written on the shame of eating Philadelphia’s half-off loser pizza

But nothing anyone can say or write would summarize the franchise’s current campaign of futility more than one particular play from Monday night’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers

The 76ers suffered a surprisingly close 114-104 loss to Portland thanks to some decent play from Michael Carter-Williams. LaMarcus Aldridge would pave the way for the Trail Blazers with 33 points, but it was a play involving Damian Lillard that demonstrated the depths of apathy permeating the 76ers roster. 

CJ Fogler crafted a GIF of the defining moment. Please watch. I will not spoil the surprise.

Three seconds, or two dry swallows—that’s how long Lillard had to consider his shot after a Wesley Matthews drive and dish to the perimeter. 

For three seconds the 76ers stood there, waiting and expectant of the damnation that always falls on their heads. The lack of reaction was so complete and bizarre that even Lillard seemed surprised.

The Trail Blazers guard paused in his gathering of the ball, as if to say, “What’s going on here? Was there a whistle?” Nope. No whistle, just a team of paid professionals waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Eventually, Nerlens Noel realized that something had to be done in order for the game to continue and offered a token lunge. In any other reality, Lillard would’ve missed the shot and the sequence would’ve come up just short of perfectly terrible.

But this is the reality of the 76ers. They are bad to the point of fiction, and they got the ending they deserved.

 

Follow Dan on Twitter for more sports and pop culture filigree.

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NIT Season Tip-off 2014: Teams, Schedule, Live Stream, Bracket, TV Info

If you want to be considered one of the top teams in the country, you have to prove yourself on a big stage. In the college basketball world, there are few bigger stages than Madison Square Garden.

Gonzaga, Minnesota, St. John’s and Georgia each have different goals for the season, but all of them will come into the NIT Season Tip-Off believing they have a chance to come away with a pair of wins that will impress the NCAA tournament committee at the end of the year.

It also wouldn’t be a terrible thing for the players to enjoy a trip to New York City in the meantime.

This tournament has as much intrigue as any around the nation, so make sure to tune in to this exciting event and follow along with this guide.

 

Games can be viewed online on ESPN3. A bracket is available courtesy of RealGM.com.

 

Top Player to Watch: Andre Hollins, Minnesota

It is becoming hard to find holes in Andre Hollins’ game.

The senior guard has the quickness and athleticism to drive to the basket and finish at the rim while also showcasing plenty of range to shoot when defenders give him space. On the other end of the court, he is a great on-ball defender who often takes on an opposing team’s best player.

Putting him on the floor next to DeAndre Mathieu gives the Gophers an experienced backcourt that will help the team throughout the year in the Big Ten. The key for Hollins is to be even more aggressive than he has been and take over games on the offensive end.

After winning the postseason NIT a year ago, this group believes it can come right back and win in MSG once again. If Minnesota does come through with a great performance this week, you can be certain Hollins will have a lot to do with it.

 

Most Intriguing Team: St. John’s

While Gonzaga is considered one of the top teams in the nation and Minnesota is expected to at least earn a spot in the NCAA tournament, not a lot is known about St. John’s. The Red Storm have started the year 3-0 while showcasing some excellent defense, but they have not faced any real competition so far.

Still, the team’s top players are really playing well to start the year. D’Angelo Harrison is especially turning heads while averaging 18.3 points and 10.3 rebounds per game. He is a versatile player who fills up the box score almost every game and does whatever it takes to help his team win.

On the defensive end, Chris Obekpa is becoming one of the top shot-blockers in the nation and makes it incredibly difficult for opponents to score in the paint.

Head coach Steve Lavin believes this squad can earn a spot in the NCAA tournament this season, via Roger Rubin of the New York Daily News:

It’s been an arduous yet rewarding climb up the mountain. We knocked on the door the past two years but came up short, and it’s clear this group is maturing. If we stay injury-free and continue to incrementally develop over the course of the season, we believe the next step for our program is a run into the NCAA Tournament.

 A win or two in this tournament would be a great way to start off the year.

 

Predicted Winners: Gonzaga

Mark Few has had a lot of talented teams achieve various levels of success at Gonzaga, but this team might be his best yet.

ESPN’s Jay Bilas is impressed with what he has seen so far:

Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports discussed the overall offense:

Kevin Pangos has gotten better every year of his career, and he is now one of the best point guards in the nation. Alongside of him is Gary Bell, creating an excellent backcourt that can beat just about any defenders off the ball.

With Kentucky transfer Kyle Wiltjer bringing in experience and the ability to stretch the defense with his outside range, the Bulldogs have everything you need in a Final Four contender.

Minnesota’s backcourt could cause problems in a potential final, but Gonzaga should be able to take home the preseason NIT crown.

 

Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.

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College Basketball Coaches Facing Most Pressure in 2014-15 Season

The bigger the job, the greater the pressure.

Some of college basketball’s most notable coaching names have a lot of expectations this season, but this isn’t simply a matter of being looked to for lots of wins, a deep tournament run or a national championship. The specific pressures each coach faces is different, based on the job and the situation.

You can’t really compare what one has to deal with to the other, but we can list those who have the most weight on their shoulders in 2014-15 and illustrate just what they have to deal with this season beyond just their opponents.

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Philadelphia 76ers Are Underdogs in Every Remaining Game of NBA Season

It’s been another ugly NBA season for the Philadelphia 76ers, who are currently 0-13 to start the year.

Because they have yet to win a game this season, the oddsmakers don’t exactly have a lot of confidence in the 76ers. ESPN’s Marc Stein tweeted that, according to numberFire, the 76ers are favored in exactly zero remaining games this year:

The Sixers are bound to get a win at some point, but odds like this aren’t going to inspire much confidence.

[Philly.com]

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