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2013 Postseason NIT Preview: Monday Slate Highlighted by Southern Mississippi and Louisiana Tech

The postseason NIT continues its second round Monday with a chance to see the regular season Atlantic Sun champions, the Kentucky killers, and next year's biggest CUSA battle.

Coach, do you think we can do it again?
Coach, do you think we can do it again?
Wesley Hitt

What more could you ask for after a night of amazing NCAA action? Why how about some of the best games to come in the postseason NIT. Between Robert Morris, aka the Kentucky killers, Mercer, that team that edged Florida Gulf Coast for the Atlantic Sun championship, and a battle between Southern Mississippi and Louisiana Tech, the evening should give viewers very few let downs.

Robert Morris at Providence - 7 p.m., ESPN3: Robert Morris was everyone's darling until the NCAA Tournament started. Then we got Harvard and later Florida Gulf Coast, and all but the most die-hard of Big Blue Nation have a hard time forgetting what occurred Tuesday. The Colonials face another top conference opponent Monday, and won't have the home court advantage to their benefit.

They will face a Providence team that has a story line very much like the Wildcat squad they dispatched a week ago: some very good wins during the season, but a number of head-scratching losses. The biggest question will be if Robert Morris can do what it did against Kentucky -- force turnovers and keep the game in a tempo range that more befits their style.

Velton Jones will have a more difficult time dealing with the better ball-handling skills of the Friars. Bryce Cotton is one of the superior ball handlers, although point guard Vincent Council -- even while distributing the ball well -- tends to still toss it away at a 20 percent clip. Robert Morris can also benefit from crashing the offensive glass and extending their possessions, something that haven't been exactly great at this season. But the Friars are not a good rebounding team, and so this is a matter of degree to which you rebound more than having to be the best at it.

The MRI computer favors Providence, with a 68.6 percent chance of winning.

Mercer at BYU - 9 p.m., ESPN3: With all the talk last night of Florida Gulf Coast and the questions about how they didn't manage to win the Atlantic Sun, here is everyone's chance to see the team that did. (Side note here: The A-Sun might have been one of the most competitive conferences during the regular season that no one paid any attention to, except maybe Mid-Major Madness. Between the Eagles, the Bears, USC Upstate and Stetson, there were four teams that could have walked away with that title. There is a big difference when you come prepared to face off against #DunkCity, and when you are not really expecting the fast-paced skill of the Eagles).

But this team will look nothing like what Florida Gulf Coast will do to teams. The Bears will slow the tempo and get the best shot they can. That is why they shoot at a pretty nice effective rate of 50.3 percent from the floor. Between Langston Hall, Travis Smith and Bud Thomas, they have the shooters -- and Smith's passing ability -- to play with anyone.

The problem is that they will be facing the uptempo BYU Cougars, who should have the frontcourt power in combination with Tyler Haws on the wing, to give Mercer fits. The Bears actually match up well in terms of overall height with the Cougars, but it will be the tempo and pace that should do them in.

The MRI Computer favors BYU, with an 82.6 percent chance of winning.

Louisiana Tech at Southern Mississippi - 10 p.m., ESPNU: Next season, this will be one of the marquee games in Conference USA. Let that sink in for a little while. Both of these squads, if they can get through this contest have a shot at winning this whole tournament, and this should be one the closest game of the night.

The biggest difference here will be the defense of both teams. The best chance that Louisiana Tech has is to force Southern Mississippi to make enough mistakes to derail its balanced, high-efficiency offense. There isn't a player that the Bulldogs can key on to hope to stop the Golden Eagles. All of the top eight players on the team can score, and contribute on the offensive end.

But at the same time, they all have issues with ball control. So it will be up to Southern Mississippi to do its best to overcome its singular weakness, the thing that probably kept it from winning at least a single game against Memphis this year (they controlled it fairly well in the conference championship game against the Tigers; that game just went too long).

The MRI computer favors Southern Mississippi, with a 67.7 percent chance of winning.