College Basketball NIT Semifinals: #2 BYU Cougars vs #1 Valparaiso Crusaders

2016 NIT Semifinals
#2 Brigham Young Cougars vs #1 Valparaiso Crusaders
Madison Square Garden – New York City, New York
Tuesday, March 29, 2016, 7:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: Valparaiso Pick
Current Line: Valparaiso -2
Opening Total: 147
Current Total: 147
Opening Money Line: Valpo -120 / BYU +100
Current Money Line: Valpo -135 / BYU +115


Valparaiso is a 2 point favorite against BYU in the NIT semifinals.
Valparaiso is a 2 point favorite against BYU in the NIT semifinals.

The 2016 NIT semifinals get underway Tuesday in Madison Square Garden. The 26-10 Brigham Young Cougars will take on the 29-6 Valparaiso Crusaders in the first semifinal. The winner will face either George Washington or San Diego State in Thursday’s championship game also in New York. BYU and Valparaiso have met twice before, but not since 1948. The series is tied 1-1 for what it’s worth.

BYU is coached by Dave Rose. The Cougars finished in third place in the West Coast Conference at 13-5. The Cougars lost to Gonzaga 88-84 in the WCC semifinals. BYU was given a #2 seed in the NIT. The Cougars beat #7 seed UAB 97-79 in the first round and #3 seed Virginia Tech 80-77 in the second round, both in Provo. In the quarterfinals, the Cougars beat #4 seed Creighton 88-82 in Provo last Tuesday.  BYU is making their 12th trip to the NIT and has won it twice but the last championship was in 1965. The Cougars made the semifinals in 2013.

BYU has a neutral site loss to Harvard in Hawaii, plus road losses at Long Beach State, Utah, Colorado, St, Mary’s, Portland, and Pepperdine. The Cougars have home losses to Pacific and Gonzaga. BYU has neutral site wins over Weber State in Salt Lake City, New Mexico and Northern Iowa in Hawaii, and Santa Clara in the WCC Tournament in Las Vegas. The Cougars have road wins at Pacific, Gonzaga, Loyola Marymount, San Francisco, Santa Clara, and San Diego. BYU has home wins over Belmont, Utah State, Central Michigan, Santa Clara, San Francisco, Loyola Marymount, Pepperdine, St. Mary’s, San Diego and Portland. The Cougars are 18-14-1 ATS and the total is 18-15 this season. BYU was a 4.5 point favorite against Creighton and the total was 165.5.

Valparaiso is coached by Bryce Drew. The Crusaders won the Horizon League regular season title with a 16-2 record, but were upset by Green Bay 99-92 in the semifinals of the Horizon tournament. Valparaiso wasn’t selected to the NCAA Tournament and was given a #1 seed in the NIT. The Crusaders beat #8 seed Texas Southern 84-73 in the first round and #4 seed Florida State 81-69 in the second round. Valparaiso beat #2 seed St. Mary’s 60-44 in the quarterfinals last Tuesday. All three games were at home for the Crusaders. Valpo is in their third NIT and has never made it past the first round before this season.

Valparaiso has road losses at Oregon, Ball State, Belmont, and to Wright State twice. The Crusaders have home wins over IPFW, Iona, Belmont, Missouri State, Milwaukee, Green Bay, and Oakland. Valpo has road wins at Rhode Island, Oregon State, Indiana State, Oakland, Green Bay and Milwaukee. Valparaiso is 17-14-1 ATS and the total is 16-16 this season. The Crusaders were 3.5 point favorites against St. Mary’s and the total was 134.5.

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BYU is outscoring teams 84-73 this season. The Cougars are #9 nationally in scoring. BYU is shooting 46.4% from the field and 38.4% from three point range. The Cougars make 68.9% of their free throws. Opponents are shooting 41.4% from the field and 33.1% from three point range. Brigham Young averages 40.9 rebounds per game and opponents average 31.4 per game. BYU is #13 nationally in rebounding. The Cougars average 16.8 assists, 12.5 turnovers, 6.7 steals and 4.3 blocks per game. Opponents average 13.6 assists, 13.2 turnovers, 5.5 steals and 3.6 blocks per game.

Chase Fischer averages 18.3 points, 2.7 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1 steal per game. Nick Emery averages 16.2 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.4 steals per game. Kyle Collinsworth averages 15.3 points, 8.4 rebounds, 7.6 assists and 1.9 steals per game. Kyle Davis averages 11.9 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.3 blocks per game. Six other players get time in the rotation.

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Valparaiso is outscoring teams 76-63 this season. The Crusaders are #9 in points allowed nationally. Valpo is shooting 44.4% from the field and 36.3% from three point range. The Crusaders make 72.7% of their free throws. Opponents are shooting 38.4% from the field and 32.9% from the field. The Crusaders are #3 nationally in field goal defense. Valpo averages 41.6 rebounds per game and opponents average 28.1 per game. The Crusaders are #14 or better in both categories. Valparaiso averages 14.1 assists, 12.7 turnovers, 6.8 steals and 4.6 blocks per game. Opponents averages 10.5 points, 13 turnovers, 5.6 steals and 3.5 blocks per game.

Alec Peters averages 18.5 points, 8.4 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game. Keith Carter averages 10.2 points, 3.3 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.6 steals per game. Tevonn Walker averages 9.3 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game. Shane Hammink averages 9 points, 3 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game. Darien Walker averages 8 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game. Four other players will get time in the rotation.

BYU is 4-1 ATS in non-conference games, 16-36 in neutral site games, 1-4 in Tuesday games and 2-8 after a cover.

Valparaiso is 6-1 ATS in Tuesday games, 5-1 in neutral site games, 3-7 after a straight up win, and against teams with winning records.

Both these teams have been impressive so far in the NIT. Valparaiso is a much better defensive team but BYU is a better offensive team. The team that can control the tempo will win this game. I think Valparaiso wins a close game in the 70’s.

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