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2015 NIT Preview: UC Davis Aggies vs. Stanford Cardinal

After winning the regular season title in the Big West, but falling short in the Big West Conference Tournament, the Aggies look to make some noise in the NIT.

Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

For the third season in a row the Big West Conference regular season champion did not win the conference tournament, and will be headed to the NIT.

After a 14-2 regular season run through the Big West, the UC Davis Aggies came up short in the semifinal round of the Big West Tournament ending all hope of a trip to the NCAA tournament. Despite a 25-6 record, there was no hope for an at-large bid as UC Davis played one of the weakest nonconference schedules in the nation.

Sunday night it was announced that the Aggies would be a 7-seed in the 2015 NIT and visit the Stanford Cardinal in the first round.

The Cardinal finished Pac-12 play with a respectable 9-9 record, but did not string together enough quality wins to earn an at-large berth into the NCAA Tournament. The Cardinal are led by senior point guard Chasson Randle who averaged 18.9 points per game and helped Stanford to a Sweet 16 appearance last season.

Randle, along with UC Davis guard and Big West Conference Player of the Year, Corey Hawkins should make for a fun matchup to watch in the back court as the two certainly know how to score in bunches.

The key to this game will be focus. Often times when a team expects to go to the NCAA Tournament, but instead find themselves in the NIT, they aren't ready.

This season was a big let down for the Cardinal after impressive wins in the big dance a year ago. Tuesday's game will come down to whether or not Stanford is up for the challenge. Even if the Cardinal come out a bit lackadaisical in the game's opening minutes, it will take the best performance of the year from the Aggies to come out of Palo Alto with a victory.

If the Aggies can continue to shoot well from downtown, they have a chance to beat anyone in the NIT. Led by four 5th-year seniors playing in their first postseason game, the Aggies may just be this year's "NIT Cinderella."

Prediction: Stanford 72, UC Davis 67