The Field for Madison Square Garden is Set in NIT Season Tip-Off

Gregory Shamus

Three mid-majors and a Division II team had a chance to get to Madison Square Garden Tuesday night. Only one accomplished the feat. Given that we told you about that one, let's look at the other three contests.

So things didn't go exactly as planned Tuesday night for the mid-majors trying to make a push to Madison Square Garden.

We already let you know about the Delaware win. That was a major coup considering that when we asked the question of which mid-major could crack the Final Four, the Blue Hens were one of the least favorite to make the run. Heck, even I picked Lehigh, even though that was probably a lot of wishful thinking that the best story would get there rather than that there was enough talent to get there.

Wait, that isn't right. Lehigh had the talent to get there, and Pittsburgh was not the Pittsburgh we expected last year. Yes, we thought that Lehigh could do it.

Dr. Geeves will fill you in more, but it didn't look like the Mountain Hawks were that motivated to crack New York City. That is disappointing. Not so much because Lehigh lost, but because we lost out on a really great opportunity to watch two great mid-majors in the semifinals.

Yes, I will swallow my pride. And I will congratulate the Blue Hens on their win. I don't know exactly how it has happened two nights in a row, considering how poor the overall play has been, but it got done. Pure and simple.

Of course, one of the other two teams could have won to give us more to root for. Cleveland State and Alabama-Huntsville were just overmatched. The D-II team has at least some of an excuse. It is one thing to beat North Texas. It is another to try and take on Kansas State. That is just not going to happen. The Wildcats had no issue, winning 87-26.

So why were we that high on North Texas? Seriously, 87-26. That is like... wow... just wow. And North Texas couldn't beat them. Tony Mitchell took four shots!. Honestly feel like this deserves more than a little bit of a meltdown. North Texas lost to the team that lost to Kansas State by 61!

South Alabama, you are officially the favorites in the Sun Belt now (especially after Middle Tennessee State had trouble with Savannah State tonight). North Texas had best learn how to play before that changes back (Even tonight, Mitchell was 6-for-16. What is going on?).

Ok, putting in the carbon rods here. Meltdown averted.

Cleveland State was not up to the task tonight either, losing by 30 to Michigan. Unlike against Bowling Green, Anton Grady stayed out of foul trouble and was the only bright spot for the Vikings. The sophomore scored 15 points on 7 of 15 shooting. The rest of the team? They shot 24.4 percent.

Not sure that game needs much more explanation, other than it is was nice to see Grady get back on track this season.

So we are all set for the Final Four. The game we won't care about here will be Michigan and Pittsburgh, which I will guess will get the 7 p.m. eastern slot on Nov. 21.

The other game will feature Kansas State and Delaware, and a tip-off time of 9:30. Honestly there isn't a lot of hope here (and I am not allowed to root for the Blue Hens any longer, really, truly). Kansas State was underrated prior to the season, and given the early performances, the Wildcats have shown how strong they are. It actually makes you believe that the media has something against Bruce Weber.

So we will return to the NIT Season Tip-Off in a week, and I will sit here and not root for Delaware. Because that is what I do. And I will smile slightly if they win.

No. No, I won't.

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