Are you struggling to cope with the absence of March Madness? Are you getting the shakes just thinking about a week without postseason basketball?
Well, have no fear, because “the other” postseason basketball tournaments are here to save you.
While the NCAA tournament is on pause until the Final Four this weekend, there is still some quality college basketball being played this week. Sure, Minnesota vs. Washington won’t be as good as Kansas vs. North Carolina, but you need hoops, and the N.I.T., C.I.T. and C.B.I will fill your void this week.
No.3 Stanford vs. No.7 Massachusetts
Details: Tuesday 3/27, Madison Square Garden. 7:00PM on ESPN2
How They Got Here: No.3 Stanford
Defeated No.6 Cleveland State 76-65 in first round. Defeated No.7 Illinois State 92-88 in second round. Defeated No.5 Nevada 84-56 in quarterfinals.
How They Got Here: No.7 Massachusetts
Defeated No.4 Mississippi State 101-96 2OT in first round. Defeated No.1 Seton Hall 77-67 in second round. Defeated No.3 Drexel 72-70 in quarterfinals.
What to Watch For: UMass guard Chaz Williams is playing his best basketball of the season. Through three games, he is averaging 22.6ppg. He is shooting 53 percent (8-for-15) from beyond the arc. Williams will go up against the Stanford duo of freshman Chasson Randle and sophomore Aaron Bright. Randle is the team’s leading scorer, and Bright scored a career-high 29 points in Stanford’s second round win over Illinois State.
On the Line: Both teams weren’t even considered bubble teams on Selection Sunday, and both have young rosters and a bright future. A successful postseason run can provide wonders for a young team looking to improve the following season.
No.1 Washington vs. No.6 Minnesota
Details: Tuesday 3/27, Madison Square Garden. 9:00PM on ESPN2
How They Got Here: No.1 Washington
Defeated No.8 UT-Arlington 82-72 in first round. Defeated No.4 Northwestern 76-55 in second round. Defeated No.3 Oregon 90-86 in quarterfinals.
How They Got Here: No.6 Minnesota
Defeated No.3 LaSalle 70-61 in first round. Defeated No.2 Miami 78-60 in second round. Defeated No.4 Middle Tennessee 78-72 in quarterfinals
What to Watch For: This game has all the makings of a No.8-seed vs. No.9-seed first round NCAA tournament game. With a win, the Gophers would have eliminated the top four seeds in their region. But in order to do so, they will have to defeat a talented Washington team with superior size and athleticism. This game features two of the more electrifying players in the country, Minnesota’s Rodney Williams and Washington’s Terrence Ross. Expect to see a bevy of highlight reel plays in this one.
On the Line: Both of these teams have NCAA tournament potential but lacked quality resumes. A win would leave either team just one win away from redemption, and a N.I.T. title.
C.B.I. Finals (Best-of-3 Series)
Washington State vs. Pittsburgh
Details: Game 1 – Monday 3/26, at Washington State. 10:00PM. Game 2 – Wednesday 3/28, at Pittsburgh. 7:00PM.
How They Got Here: Washington State
Defeated San Francisco 89-75 in first round. Defeated Wyoming 61-41 in quarterfinals. Defeated Oregon State 72-55 in semifinals.
How They Got Here: Pittsburgh
Defeated Wofford 81-63 in first round. Defeated Princeton 82-61 in quarterfinals. Defeated Butler 68-62 OT in semifinals.
What to Watch For: Washington State’s Brock Motum could have arguably won the Pac-12 Player of the Year award. He is having a stellar season and has carried this team on his shoulders for much of this season. But he sustained an ankle injury against Oregon state and his status is questionable for the first game. If he is unable to play, Pittsburgh will have a significant advantage.
On the Line: For Washington State, a C.B.I title would be a great way to finish their woefully inconsistent season. For Pittsburgh, it would be a step in the right direction after a disappointing season. A guy like Ashton Gibbs deserves to finish his career with a championship, even if it isn’t the one being handed out in New Orleans.
Mercer vs. Utah State
Details: Wednesday 3/28, at Utah State. 10:00PM on Fox College Sports
How They Got Here: Mercer
Defeated Tennessee State 68-60 in first round. Defeated Georgia State 64-59 in second round. Defeated Old Dominion 79-73 in the quarterfinals. Defeated Fairfield 65-59 in the semifinals.
How They Got Here: Utah State
Defeated Cal State-Bakersfield 65-59 in first round. Defeated Idaho 76-56 in second round. Defeated Loyola-Marymount 77-69 in quarterfinals. Defeated Oakland 105-81 in semifinals.
What to Watch For: Only once this season did Mercer win consecutive road games. With a win at the hostile Spectrum in Logan, UT the Bears would have won three straight on the road. The Aggies have won seven of their last eight games, and guard Preston Medlin is averaging 23.3ppg in C.I.T.
On the Line: This was a down-ear for Utah State, and a C.I.T championship would give the Aggies and their fans something to remind them that the season wasn’t an entire bust.
Troy Machir is the managing editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @TroyMachir.