If you are looking to have some kind of rooting interest Tuesday night in the NIT, then you have come to the right place. Who are the mid-major teams to watch, and which players are going to have the biggest impact on the opening night of games? We think we have an idea.
Mid-Major Teams to Watch
1. Indiana State - The Sycamores got a bad rap in the Missouri Valley conference because they were the team that everyone invested in to beat Wichita State, and they couldn’t do it. That doesn’t mean that they weren’t a very good team this season; after all, no one beat the Shockers. They have a highly electric scorer in Jake Odum, who even the Shocker players honored when he left the court for the final time in the Missouri Valley Tournament. This is a team that has a lot to prove against Arkansas, as so many people have discounted them. This isn’t the best matchup for them, and a lot might depend on the play of Jake Odum inside.
2. Georgia State - The Panthers were 17-1 in the Sun Belt, but that one loss came against Troy which had a lot of people scratching their heads. In the finals of the conference tournament, Georgia State fell to an electric Louisiana-Lafayette team. I really worry about this team getting worn down against a deeper Clemson team that plays excellent defense. They may not be able to score enough to overcome a less than scoreboard-breaking Tigers team.
Mid-Major Players to Watch:
1. John Brown, High Point - Here is the guy you need to watch inside the paint against Minnesota. He is a scorer with very good hands, and unlike a lot of bigs, won’t be pressured into turning the ball over a lot against the bigger Gophers. Teams with a lot of size have the ability to shut him down, and Minnesota has Elliott Eliason and Joey King. That might not let Brown do his thing, but if they relax on him, fans will be in for a treat.
2. De’Mon Brooks, Davidson - Brooks is another guy that is going to be discounted because of his size. He has the ability to make things happen with the ball though. His best talent? Getting to the free throw line. Brooks draws more than eight fouls per game and is a nightmare with his style of slashing to the basket. He is also has the bad luck of drawing a good number of fouls too though, so staying on the floor might be difficult against Missouri. Still, he is one of the most interesting players you will see on Tuesday night.
3. Jake Odum, Indiana State - I really hope this isn’t Odum’s final game because he has been a great player to watch over the last several years. He actually had some help scoring this season, which has tapered some but not all the way. That only helped his overall profile earlier in the year, and if he can get that assistance Tuesday, it will make it even harder to shut down the Indiana State guard. His ability to guide the offense and make things happen could make the difference between another game Thursday and the end of his season.