Last night two teams punched their tickets for a trip to New York next week and two more will do so tonight in the NIT. On Tuesday, both road underdogs covered the spread, with North Carolina winning outright. Is history due to repeat itself in Blacksburg and Champaign or will the home teams stand their ground and get ready to take a bite out of the Big Apple?
Rhode Island (25-9, 11-17-3 ATS) may have worn their road uniforms this month; however they haven’t visited enemy territory in awhile. The Rams haven’t played a true road game since Mar. 6 at Massachusetts, losing 69-67 as 7.5-point favorites. In fact, Rhode Island hasn’t won a road game period, last doing so on Ground Hogs Day at LaSalle. The Rams are 24-12 ATS in non-conference contests the last three years and could use another hot shooting night from Delroy James, who pumped in a career-high 34 points against Nevada two nights ago, to help Rhode Island advance in 85-83 thriller. They are only 2-9 ATS after scoring 80 or more points this season.
Virginia Tech (25-8, 14-12-1 ATS) also had a nail-biter Monday night, finding a way to knock off Connecticut 65-63. The Hokies won in spite of Malcolm Delaney scoring six points on 2-14 shooting. Delaney still found a way to contribute with nine assists.
DiamondSportsbook.com has Virginia Tech as six-point favorite with total of 143 and the Hokies are 13-4 ATS off a close home win by three points or less, while the Rams are 2-8 ATS versus teams outscoring their opponents by four or points after 15 or more games this season. This first NIT quarterfinal is on ESPN2 at 7 Eastern with Rhode Island 11-0 UNDER against defensive teams surrendering 42 percent or less shooting percentage past the midway point of the regular season.
Dayton (21-12, 15-15-1 ATS) had an undistinguished regular season, finishing eighth in the A-10 and being bounced in the quarterfinals of the league tourney by Xavier. The Flyers can earn team redemption by winning tonight and moving on to NIT semis with upset of Illinois (21-14, 14-17-2 ATS). Dayton has played extremely well in this tournament, with a 20-point win over Illinois State and taking it to in-state partner Cincinnati 81-66 on their floor. The Flyers have locked up opponents with stifling defense, holding last two to 33.3 percent from the field. However, they are 5-18 ATS playing their second road game in three days.
Illinois was thought to be a lock for the NCAA Tournament, but they lost five of their last six regular season games and had two chances to knock off Ohio State in Big Ten tourney and failed to do so. Coach Bruce Weber’s squad has put aside that disappointment and is 40 minutes from making trip to Madison Square Garden, winning three of last four and not losing against the spread in those contests (3-0-1 ATS). The Fighting Illini’s win against Kent State was impressive (75-58) and they are 29-13 ATS at home off a home win by 10 points or more.
Dayton is a three-point underdog for this 9:00 Eastern contest on “the deuce” and is 0-8 ATS off an upset win as an underdog over the last three seasons.