Illinois State (20-13) at Ole Miss (20-13)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, March 14, 9:30 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Tad Smith Coliseum (14,545) -- Oxford, Mississippi. Television: ESPNU. NIT Record: Illinois State 8-11, Ole Miss 13-10. Series Record: Illinois State leads, 2-0.
GAME NOTES: Two teams very familiar with the National Invitational Tournament will meet up in the first round of this year's event, when the Illinois State Redbirds tangle with the Ole Miss Rebels at Tad Smith Coliseum.
Illinois State enters this game after making a run to the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament title game and pushing eventual champion Creighton to the brink before dropping the contest 83-79 in overtime.The Redbirds were a surprising team in the conference this year and finished third in the standings while posting a 20-win season for the fifth time during coach Tim Jankovich's tenure. The Redbirds have been to the postseason in four of the last five seasons. This is the 12th appearance in the NIT for ISU, which is 8-11 all-time in the event.
Ole Miss also finished the season with a 20-13 ledger after pushing itself all the way to the Southeastern Conference Tournament semifinals before falling to eventual champion Vanderbilt, 65-53. The Rebels had won five straight games entering that matchup, including the run through the tournament. This is the Rebels' 11th appearance in the NIT where they have a solid 13-10 record, including an 11-1 mark in home games during the tournament.
Illinois State has won both of the previous matchups between these squads and has never lost (5-0) to an SEC opponent.
The Redbirds were part of a wild last couple of minutes of regulation against Creighton in the MVC Title game. Trailing 64-62 with 22 seconds to play Tyler Brown took an outlet pass from Jackie Carmichael and took the ball the length of the floor for a layup to tie the game. Creighton then got a pair of free throws but Nic Moore stepped up and converted a layup to send the game into overtime, tied 66-66. The Redbirds ran out of gas in the extra period though, and were outscored 17-13.
Carmichael and Brown have been the leaders for Illinois State this season. Carmichael, a junior forward (13.8 ppg, 9.6 rpg) is the team's leading scorer and rebounder. Brown, a junior guard, (13.1 ppg) is right behind in the scoring column. Moore (9.1 ppg) is the next best option and is coming off a 20-point effort against Creighton which was the second most he has scored in a game this season. As a team, Illinois State is averaging a pedestrian 68.3 points per game.
Ole Miss did not have the luxury of playing in a tight game in its semifinal loss to Vanderbilt. Despite keeping the game close in the first half the Rebels were outscored by 10 in the second frame en route to the defeat. Ole Miss had only 17 field goals in the game and shot 40.5 percent from the floor.
The Rebels are a team that gets a great deal of production out of its front line. Senior forward Terrance Henry (12.2 ppg) is the squad's leading scorer. Murphy Holloway (11.1 ppg, 9.1 rpg) and Reginald Buckner (7.0 ppg, 8.1 rpg) are a terrific duo on the glass, ranking third and fourth respectively in the SEC in rebounding this season. Jarvis Summers (10.2 ppg, 3.2 apg) and Nick Williams (10.1 ppg) give the team backcourt balance.
If Ole Miss is going to get in the win column against Illinois State it will need its frontline to rebound from a poor performance against Vanderbilt. That shouldn't be too much of an issue against the Redbirds, who outside of Carmichael, are not particularly strong in the paint.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Ole Miss 69, Illinois State 62
03/14 10:34:52 ET