BYU Cougars vs. Baylor Bears (-3, 153)
The first of the two National Invitation Tournament semifinal games at Madison Square Garden figures to be a high-scoring and entertaining one. Baylor comes in averaging 93.3 in its three previous NIT wins while Brigham Young is averaging 86.3 and scored 90 points in victories over Washington and Mercer.
BYU, which won NIT titles in 1951 and 1966, leads the all-time series with Baylor, 5-4. The two teams already met once this season with Baylor claiming a 79-64 win on Dec. 21 in Waco. The Bears also defeated the Cougars a year earlier in Provo, 86-83. This marks just the second time in school history that BYU has played a game in April. The Cougars lost to Colorado, 16-10, on April 2, 1903 in Provo. "I encouraged the guys today to score a couple more points than maybe that team did," Cougar coach Dave Rose joked to the Salt Lake Tribune.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, ESPN2
ABOUT BRIGHAM YOUNG (24-11, 16-17-1 ATS): The Cougars looked at the NIT as a chance for redemption and have made the most of it following a 72-69 loss to San Diego in the quarterfinals of the West Coast Conference tournament which snuffed out any chance for an NCAA at-large berth. BYU, which struggled with its 3-point shooting much of the season, connected for a season-best 11 treys in its 79-62 quarterfinal win at Southern Miss on Wednesday and has been hitting on all cylinders offensively in the NIT. BYU finished with 24 assists on its 26 field goals against the Golden Eagles. "We went to six straight NCAA Tournaments before this year, and I don't remember being any more excited than we are right now," Rose told the Salt Lake Tribune. "I mean, this is really good for our team. It is really good for our program." Sophomore guard Tyler Haws leads the Cougars in scoring (21.6) and is shooting 38.4 percent from 3-point range while lanky 6-9 senior forward Brandon Davies (17.8) is an NBA prospect who has 24 career double-doubles.
ABOUT BAYLOR (21-14, 15-15-0 ATS): Like BYU, the Bears come in on a roll offensively. Baylor shot a school-record 69.6 percent (16-of-23) from 3-point range in its 112-66 win over Long Beach State in its NIT opener and finished with 31 assists. The Bears had five turnovers in their 79-68 quarterfinal win over Providence, tying for the fewest in the 10-year Scott Drew coaching era. Senior point guard Pierre Jackson, who leads the Big 12 in scoring (19.7) and assists (6.9), set an NIT record with 16 assists in the Bears' 89-86 second round victory over Arizona State and has scored in double figures in 41 of his last 42 games. Junior forward Cory Jefferson (12.8) leads the Big 12 in field goal percentage (60.3) while 7-1 freshman center Isaiah Austin has 10 double-doubles and ranks third in the Big 12 in rebounding (8.3).
* Cougars are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 vs. Big 12.
* Bears are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 non-conference games.
* Over is 6-2 in Cougars' last eight vs. Big 12.
* Over is 9-4 in Bears' last 13 non-conference games.
1. Haws, the WCC scoring leader (21.6), has scored 20 or more points in 24 games this season.
2. Baylor G Brady Heslip is shooting 58 percent (30-of-52) from 3-point range in seven career postseason games for Baylor.
3. PG Matt Carlino is averaging 17.7 points, nine assists and 6.3 rebounds in three NIT games for BYU while also connecting on 13-of-29 3-pointers (44.8 percent).
Iowa Hawkeyes vs. Maryland Terrapins (+2.5, 136)
Maryland, which upset No. 1 seed Alabama, 58-57, in the quarterfinals, makes its third appearance in the National Invitation Tournament semifinals. The Terrapins, who captured the 1972 title with wins over Jacksonville and Niagara, fell in the 2005 semis to South Carolina. Maryland has won five of its last six games with the lone loss to North Carolina, 79-76, in the semifinals of the ACC tournament.
Iowa advanced to the NIT semifinals for the first time in school history with a 75-64 victory at Virginia on Wednesday, snapping the Cavaliers' 19-game home win streak. The Hawkeyes have won 10 of their last 13 games and have done so by an average of 13.2 points per game. It's the third meeting between the two schools. Maryland has won both including a 83-65 victory in 1999 in the last meeting.
TV: 9 p.m. ET, ESPN2
ABOUT IOWA (24-12, 23-9-0 ATS): The Hawkeyes, who start just one senior in guard Eric May, are a team to keep an eye on in 2013-14. Since Feb. 6, only Ohio State (11) has more victories than Iowa (10) in the Big Ten. Six of the Hawkeyes' nine losses in Big Ten play were by margins of four points or less including two in overtime and one in double overtime. Junior guard Roy Devyn Marble leads the team in scoring (15.1) and is averaging 25.3 points, 5.3 assists and three steals in three NIT games. Alex Woodbury, a 7-1 freshman center, had 10 points and eight rebounds in the quarterfinal upset of Virginia and figures to play a key role defensively against Maryland 7-1 sophomore center Alex Len, a probable high NBA lottery pick in June. "It's a great challenge for him," Iowa coach Fran McCaffery told Hawkcentral.com. "He's gone against other lottery picks this year. We'll see how it goes. He'll be ready for the challenge."
ABOUT MARYLAND (25-12, 17-12-1 ATS): Maryland hit the 25-win mark for the ninth time in school history and did it with a 10-man rotation that features seven underclassmen. All eyes will be on Len who is coming in off a Alabama game in which he finished with 15 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks. Another sophomore, swingman Dez Wells, leads the team in scoring (13.2) and is averaging 18.3 points in the postseason. Maryland leads the ACC and ranks 10th nationally in field goal percentage defense (38.4) and has held 21 of its 37 opponents to under 40 percent shooting.
* Hawkeyes are 22-6 ATS in their last 28 games overall.
* Terrapins are 8-3-1 ATS in their last 12 vs. Big Ten.
* Over is 4-1 in Hawkeyes' last five vs. Atlantic Coast.
* Over is 7-1 in Terrapins' last eight vs. Big Ten.
1. Maryland tops the ACC and ranks fourth nationally in rebounding margin at plus-8.7 per game.
2. Iowa has blocked a school-record 178 shots this season.
3. Freshman G Seth Allen, who averaged 7.8 points and 2.3 assists for the Terps, is out for the season after fracturing his hand in practice on March 24.