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NIT Tournament Daily Overview - Second Round

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Northwestern 85, Boston College 67

While March Madness lays waste to NCAA Tournament bracket sheets across the country, it’s worth noting that many college basketball experts have likely seen their NIT bracket sheets reduced to nothing as well.

Yes, on a sleepy Saturday morning in New England, only the Northwestern Wildcats were bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. The Boston College Eagles never really woke up, and as a result, they were put to sleep in the second big upset of the NIT. Just two games into the second round of the tournament, two of the favorites to make the semifinals in New York have already been dismissed. Saint Mary’s got ushered out of the tournament last Monday in round one, and now the first top seed of the tournament has taken a tumble. Boston College, a No. 1 subregional seed, will not host a quarterfinal game later this week. That’s because Northwestern rode into Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts and ran roughshod over the home team at Silvio Conte Forum.

This was a comprehensive beatdown engineered by NU and head coach Bill Carmody. Northwestern played its best and most complete game of the year. The Wildcats hit 54 percent of their shots, but what’s more illuminating is that they did so while attempting 36 3-point shots. Northwestern hit 15 of those 36 tries, tying a Conte Forum record for made threes in a game. The added points stretched out BC’s defense and left the Eagles vulnerable to backdoor cuts, especially in the second half, when the Cats pulled away and led by at least 10 points for the final 13:36 of regulation.

Four of Northwestern’s five starters hit at least 50 percent of their shots. John Shurna hit 9 of 18 field goals en route to 20 points. Michael Thompson hit 6 of 12 threes on his way to 22 points. Big man Luka Mirkovic was a perfect 6-for-6, as Carmody’s Princeton offense was executed to perfection. Northwestern will visit the winner of the upcoming Oklahoma State-Washington State game on March 23, with a spot in the NIT semifinals on the line. 

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College of Charleston 64, Cleveland State 56

The College of Charleston defeated No. 2 seed Cleveland State at the Wolstein Center in Cleveland on Saturday afternoon in the second round of the 2011 NIT tournament. Coach Bobby Cremins’s Cougars didn’t hold the lead for good until less than eight minutes remained, but their 45.7 percent shooting from the field was enough to hold off the cold-shooting Vikings in the end. Cleveland only hit a third of its shots and made only one of its 25 attempts beyond the 3-point arc. The remarkably poor display of perimeter shooting led to this upset, which occurred on the same day that Horizon League Tournament champion Butler shocked the college basketball world by upending Pittsburgh in a classic NCAA Tournament contest.

Cleveland State figured to have the answers on Saturday afternoon, but that just didn’t turn out to be the case… not on a day when its main man just didn’t own any rhythm, touch or confidence. Horizon player of the year Norris Cole had 18 points for the Vikings, but in a quiet and ineffective manner. Cole was oh-for-six beyond the three-point line. Aaron Pogue had 13 points and 14 rebounds in the losing effort for CSU, which fell short in its quest to make the NIT semifinals, good for a trip to New York City in the final week of March.

Donovan Monroe led the Cougars with 16 points, followed by 13-point efforts from teammates Trent Wiedeman and Southern Conference player of the year Andrew Goudelock. It was instructive to note that in a game billed as a mano-a-mano duel between Goudelock and Cleveland State’s Mr. Cole, the C of C’s supporting cast is what made the difference. Goudelock, like Cole, didn’t hit a single shot from 3-point range. His companions picked him up, however, and that’s why Charleston will play the winner of Sunday’s Virginia Tech–Wichita State matchup in the NIT quarterfinals on Tuesday, March 22.

By Matt Zemek
DFN Sports Senior Staff Writer
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