NIT Second Round: Missouri St at Miami-Florida

NIT Second Round
#3 Missouri St Bears at #2 Miami-(FL) Hurricanes
BankUnited Center, Coral Gables, FL
Monday, March 21, 2011, 7:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: Miami -4
Current Line: Miami -4 1/2
Opening Total: 131 1/2
Current Total: 135
Money Line: Miami -200 / Missouri St +170

Miami hosts Missouri St in the second round of the NIT. The Hurricanes are 4 1/2 point favorites.

Missouri St travels to Coral Gables to take on Miami with a trip to the NIT quarterfinals on the line. The winner of this game will take on the winner of Alabama and New Mexico in the next round. Missouri St won the Missouri Valley Conference regular season title with a 26-8 overall record and 15-3 conference record. The Bears lost the MVC title game to Indiana St 60-56 to fall into the NIT. Missouri St won at home versus Murray St 89-76 last week int he opening round. Five Bears scored in double figures led by guard Jermaine Mallett with 23 points and 6 rebounds. Miami is 20-14 overall and finished 9th in the ACC with a 6-10 record. Miami has gone 5-5 down the stretch alternating wins and losses. They almost pulled the upset over North Carolina in the ACC quarterfinals losing 61-59. The Hurricanes had a 19 point lead in the second half and North Carolina didn’t lead until a lay-up at the buzzer. Miami rebounded by crushing Florida Atlantic 85-62 in the NIT first round. Guard Malcolm Grant scored 23 for the Hurricanes and center Reggie   Johnson added 14 points and 20 rebounds in the rout.

Miami and Missouri St have never played before. Miami has gone 21-0 straight-up recently in non-conference home games and has won 36 of the last 39 in that situation. Miami is 13-4 ATS versus non-conference foes the last 2 seasons. The Hurricanes are 10-2 ATS in all tournament games the last 2 seasons. Missouri St is 18-9 in conference games the last two seasons, and 19-7 after a non-conference game in the same span.

Missouri St has no significant injuries right now. The Bears are outscoring opponents 70-63 on the season. The Bears shoot 45.6% from the field and 37.2% from 3-point range. MSU opponents are shooting 44.7% from the field. Missouri St shoots 73.2% from the free throw line.  The Bears average 33.1 rebounds a game and have a rebounding margin of +3.6. They average 13.2 assists a game and 10.4 turnovers a game. They force 11.1 turnovers a game on defense. MSU averages 4.8 steals and 3 blocks a game. The Bears are led by junior forward Kyle Weems, who leads the team or is tied for the team lead in every statistical category except assists. Weems averages 16 points, 6.9 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.4 steals, and 0.9 blocks a game. He is also shooting 39.7% from 3-point range. Guard Jermaine Mallett averages 11.9 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 2 assists.  Center Will Creekmore averages 11.4 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.1 assists, and 0.8 blocks a game.  Guard Adam Leonard averages 9.6 points, 1.9 rebounds, and 2 assists a game. Guard Nafis Ricks leads the team in assists with 3.9 a game.  He also averages 9.3 points and 4.4 rebounds a game.

Miami is healthy right now with no significant injuries. Miami is led by guard Malcolm Grant. He is averaging 15.2 points to lead the team, 1.8 rebounds, and 3.3 assists a game to lead the team. Grant is shooting 42.7% from 3-point range. Guard Durand Scott is averaging 13.3 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 1.2 steals a game to lead the team . Forward Reggie Johnson averages 12.5 points, 9.7 rebounds to lead the team and 1.3 blocks a game to also lead the team. Forward Adrian Thomas averages 9.2 points, and 3.8 assists a game.  Miami is outscoring opponents 72-67 on the year. Miami is shooting 44.6% from the field and 38.3% from 3-point range. Miami opponents are shooting 41.4% from the field. Miami is shooting 72.1% from the free throw line. The Hurricanes average 36.4 rebounds a game and have a  rebounding margin of +3.9. Miami averages 11.7 assists and 13.9 turnovers a game. Miami forces 12 turnovers a game on defense. They average 5.7 steals and 3.5 blocks a game.

This game really should be in Springfield, as Missouri St should be the two seed rather than Miami. The Bears won a tough conference outright while Miami finished 9th in the ACC. Miami is better at rebounding led center/forward Johnson. However, Miami does tend to live and die by the three pointer. Grant and Scott were 1-2 in the ACC in three point percentage. The Hurricanes attempt almost 21 three pointers a game. If the shots are falling then it could be a long night for the Bears. MSU opponents are shooting 34.7% from 3-point range, and make around 5 3-pointers a game. The Bears are a veteran team that won’t be intimidated playing on the road and have the talent to pull off the upset. It should be a great game that will be hard fought.

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