NIT Semifinals at MSG: Massachusetts Minutemen vs Stanford Cardinal

2012 National Invitation Tournament Semifinals
#5 Massachusetts Minutemen vs #3 Stanford Cardinal
Madison Square Garden – New York, New York
Tuesday, March 27, 2012, 7:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN2
Opening Line: Stanford -2 1/2
Current Line: Stanford -2 1/2
Opening Total: 147 1/2
Current Total: 149
Opening Money Line: Stanford -130 / UMass +110
Current Money Line: Stanford -145 / UMass +125

Stanford and UMass meet in The NIT semifinals Tuesday nihgt at Madison Square Garden for a trip to the Championship game Thursday. The Cardinal are 2.5 point favorites.

The 24-11 Stanford Cardinal of the Pac 12 will play the 25-11 UMass Minutemen of the Atlantic 10 in the semifinals of the NIT Tuesday night. The winner will play either Washington or Minnesota for the Championship Thursday.

Massachusetts, coached by Derek Kellogg, finished in a four way tie for fifth in the A-10. The Minutemen upset regular season champ Temple in the conference quarterfinals, but lost to St. Bonaventure in the semifinals. UMass won 3 straight road games in the NIT to get to the semifinals. The Minutemen won at Mississippi St 101-96 in double overtime, at Seton Hall 77-67, and 72-70 in the quarterfinals against Drexel. Against Drexel (and former UMass coach Bruiser Flint), the Minutemen overcame a 17 point deficit with 16 minutes to go to win. UMass shot an incredible 70% from the field in the second half, and held the Dragons to 17 points over the last 16 minutes of the game. Chaz Williams had 20 points for the Minutemen. UMass has never won the NIT but they were the runner up in 2008 to Ohio St.

UMass has wins over Northeastern, Boston College, Utah, East Carolina, Siena, Davidson, St. Joseph’s, Saint Louis, St. Bonaventure, Xavier, Rhode Island, and Duquesne. The Minutemen have losses to Florida St, College of Charleston, Miami (FL), LaSalle twice, Duquesne, Rhode Island, St. Joseph’s, Dayton, and Temple.

Stanford, coached by Johnny Dawkins, finished in seventh place in the Pac 12. The Cardinal lost to arch-rival Cal in the Pac 12 quarters. Stanford got to the NIT semifinals with three home games. The Cardinal beat Cleveland St 76-65, Illinois St 92-88 in overtime, and crushed Nevada 84-56 in the quarterfinals. Stanford was up 42-27 at halftime and never trailed against Nevada. Josh Owens and Chasson Randle each scored 15 points for the Cardinal in the rout. Stanford is only the fourth team to play in the semifinals of the pre-season and post-season NIT tournaments in the same season. Stanford lost to Syracuse in the championship of the Pre-season NIT

Stanford has wins over Fresno St, Colorado St, Oklahoma St, North Carolina St, San Diego, UCLA, USC twice, Oregon St twice, Utah, Colorado twice, Arizona St twice, and Cal. The Cardinal have losses to Butler, Oregon twice, Washington St, Washington, Cal twice, Arizona, UCLA, and Utah.

This is the 5th meeting between UMass and Stanford, and the fourth in the post-season. The series is tied 2-2. The Minutemen won the last meeting in the 1996 NCAA tournament second round, as the Minutemen went to the Final Four that year. Stanford beat UMass in the 1991 NIT semifinals as the Cardinal went on to win the tournament that year.

Massachusetts is outscoring opponents 77-72 this season. The Minutemen are #16 in scoring nationally. UMass is shooting 43.7% from the field and 35.2% from 3 point range. UMass makes 67.5% of their free throws. The Minutemen are #11 in the country in rebounding averaging 39.3 a game with a rebounding margin of +0.5. UMass averages 15.4 assists, 14.8 turnovers, 8.9 steals, and 4.7 blocks a game. Minutemen opponents are shooting 41% from the field and 30.7% from 3 point range. UMass forces 16.6 turnovers a game.

UMass guard Chaz Williams averages 16.9 points, 4.4 rebounds, 6.3 assists, and 2.3 steals a game. He leads the team in scoring, assists, and steals, and makes 42.5% of his 3 pointers. Raphiael Putney averages 10.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1 steal, and 1.4 blocks a game to lead the team. He is shooting 37.2% from 3 point range. Jesse Morgan averages 10.1 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.5 steals a game. He makes 36.8% from 3 point range. Terrell Vinson averages 10 points, 5 rebounds, and 1.1 assists a game. Sean Carter averages 8.1 points, and 6.5 rebounds a game to lead the team. Forwards Samson Carter (hip) and Cady Lalanne (foot) are both out for the season.

Stanford is outscoring opponents 72-64 this season. The Cardinal are shooting 44.6% from the field, and 37.9% from 3 point range. Stanford makes 66.4% from the free throw line. The Cardinal average 36.7 rebounds a game with a rebounding margin of +4.4. Stanford averages 12.7 assists, 13.7 turnovers, 6.4 steals and 3.3 blocks a game. Cardinal opponents are shooting 41.7% from the field and 34.1% from 3 point range. Stanford forces 14.9 turnovers a game.

Stanford  guard Chasson Randle averages 13.9 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1.1 steals a game. He is shooting 43.8% from 3 point range.  Forward-center Josh Owens averages 11.7 points, 5.7 rebounds a game to lead the team and 1.2 steals a game to lead the team. Aaron Bright averages 11.6 points, 1.6 rebounds, and 3.6 assists to lead the team. He makes 43.3% of his 3 point attempts. Anthony Brown averages 7.7 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 1 assist a game. Josh Huestis leads the team in blocks with 1.1 a game and also averages 4.7 rebounds a game. Reserve guard Gabriel Harris is out for the season with a knee injury.

Stanford is 17-15 ATS and the total is 18-14 this season. UMass is 19-13 ATS and the total is 18-13-1 this season. The Minutemen are 4-0 ATS in non-conference games, 6-1 against teams with winning records, 5-1 as an underdog, and overall, 4-1 after a straight up win, 16-5-1 in Tuesday games, 5-12 as a neutral site underdog, and 3-10 as an underdog of 6.5 points or less. The Cardinal are 4-1 ATS as a favorite of 6.5 points or less, 9-4 in non-conference games, 11-5 in Tuesday games, 5-11 after a straight up win, 4-9 after a win by 20 points or more, and 2-8 after a cover.

UMass is playing almost a home game as MSG is only 150 miles from the campus. The Minutemen are road tested anyway with 3 tough road wins just to get here. Stanford meanwhile has to travel across country after playing 3 home games. I like UMass to pull off the mild upset to advance to the championship.

Our college basketball handicappers are red hot in March and are releasing winners and key plays every day until they cut down the nets in New Orleans next month.


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