One team will leave Madison Square Garden with its first National Invitation Tournament championship Thursday, and Baylor senior guard Pierre Jackson and Iowa junior guard Roy Devyn Marble will do their best to make sure it's their team holding the trophy. Jackson has recorded three straight double-doubles and is averaging 20.3 points and 11.3 assists at the tournament. Marble has led his team in scoring in all four NIT wins and is averaging 24.3 points, 4.8 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 2.5 steals.
Third-seeded Iowa, which has won 11 of its last 14 games, is playing in its first NIT championship. The second-seeded Bears are in the NIT title game for the second time in five years, losing to Penn State in 2009. "I think there's only two happy teams at the end of the year," Baylor coach Scott Drew said after his team beat Brigham Young in the semifinals. "The team that wins the NCAA and the team that wins the NIT. We want to be one of those happy teams."
TV: 9 p.m. ET, ESPN
ODDS: Iowa opened -1 with a total of 141BETTING TRENDS:
-Iowa has covered in 10 straight games
-Iowa is 9-0 ATS in its last 9 nonconference games
-Iowa is the No. 1 ATS team in the country at 24-9 ATS
-Baylor is 5-1 ATS in its last 6
-Over is 5-0 in Iowa's last 5 vs. the Big 12
ABOUT IOWA (25-12): Marble is averaging 22.9 points in six NIT games over the past two seasons. "It's postseason play," Marble told the Des Moines Register. "It's a fun time to be playing. Everybody is watching you. When you get opportunities to play in the Garden, and on national television, you just want to play your best and continue to win." Sophomore forward Aaron White adds 12.9 points and 6.2 rebounds but eyes were on 7-1 freshman center Adam Woodbury (5.1 points on 50 percent shooting) after the Maryland win. Woodbury finished with nine points and two blocks and frustrated Maryland's Alex Len with tight man-to-man defense.
ABOUT BAYLOR (22-14): Jackson is set to become the first player to lead a major conference in both scoring (19.9) and assists (7.0) since Arizona's Jason Terry in 1998-99. "Pierre is like a time bomb," Drew told the media Tuesday."You just wait for him to go off." Cory Jefferson, a 6-9 junior forward, and 7-1 freshman center Isaiah Austin each add 13 points and power the Bears' inside game. Senior guard A.J. Walton owns the school record for games played at 140 and is tied with Quincy Acy with 97 career victories.
1. Iowa won its only meeting with Baylor, beating the Bears 67-44 on Dec. 2, 1983, in the first round of the Hawkeye Invitational in Iowa City.
2. Iowa is 19-2 when scoring at least 70 points.
3. Baylor tied a school record with four postseason wins, including a 2009 NIT runner-up finish to Penn State and a 1948 NCAA runner-up finish to Kentucky.