Featured Video from Scott Reichel
The Norfolk State Spartans make a rare second visit to Tuscaloosa, Alabama to take on the Crimson Tide in NIT action this Wednesday evening, this being a 1 vs. 8 seed matchup in the second bracket of four that make up the 32-team field.
Alabama had their NCAA Tournament hopes dashed when their program didn’t see their bubble burst on CBS when the 68-team field was announced for the big dance, so the Tide will have to settle for a 1-seed in the 2nd bracket instead with an 18 – 15 record.
The Spartans got handed one of the newly placed slots that all teams receive as conference winners from the regular season that didn’t end up winning their conference tournaments. Norfolk State took the MEAC regular season title and lost their conference tourney final to N.C. Central.
Some could say, that N.C. Central’s automatic berth to the big show might have cost the Tide their at=large opportunity, making this an interesting matchup between SEC and MEAC foes.
The last time these two teams met came in January of 2016, as the Tide rolled on to 68 – 49 win here in Tuscaloosa in a regular season affair and this time around Alabama arrives as 17-point favorites take advance and face the winner of the 4 – 5 Colorado – Dayton meeting from Tuesday night’s opening NIT round.
Spartans Looking For Another Big First Round Upset At Big Dance
Let’s take you back to 2012, shall we?
The little-known Norfolk State Spartans were making their first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance as head coach Anthony Evans was finishing up his 5th of a 6-year stint in Norfolk, VA. Evans led the Spartans to a 15 / 2 upset of Missouri who had a 2-seed and was expected to make their own run further than opening day.
It was the 4th time in the history of the NCAA Tournament that a 15-seed upset a 2-seed and that list only contains 8 teams that have pulled it off, and Evans was booted from town and found a home in the sunshine at Florida International.
Robert Jones took over in 2013 after Evans scooted for the Sunshine State, the two being native New Yorkers, thank you very much. Jones was born in Queens, NY, and Evans was born in Brooklyn, and I was born in New Rochelle.. just sayin’.
— Keith Spence (@kj_ali_spence) March 19, 2019
Anyway, Jones has yet to navigate his way to the big show in this his sixth campaign in Norfolk, but an NIT appearance is better than the four previous CIT experiences from his first four seasons, especially after missing out on the post-season entirely a year ago at 14 – 19 — Jones’ worst ever finish and only under .500.
The last time and only other time the Spartans made an NIT appearance came in Evans’ 6th and final year, as they bowed out to Virginia in the opening round, 67 – 56.
Before losing their final regular season game to Howard, the Spartans had reeled off a run of 13 wins over a 14-game span, and after 2 wins at the MEAC Tourney, a 50 – 47 loss to N.C Central took their NCAA Tourney dreams away.
Junior Nic Thomas leads a foursome of guards that take up the top-4 spots in scoring for the Spartans, as he brings in 14.4 PPG but his 0 points in the MEAC Tourney title game sure came as a surprise, especially after dumping 30 on S.C State to open the event in the QFs.
Senior guard Derrik Jamerson Jr. is the only other player that averaged double-digits for the campaign, as he dragged in 10.3 PPG, and shot 51.2% from behind the arc and 50.5% from the floor.
Wait a second, this could go on forever, because coach Jones plays everyone, every night, in every game, all the damn time! Look at the bench production and how he distributes minutes to 13 guys who have all played in at least 27 games and 10 who have appeared in 30 games or more!
Tide Out To Prove They Were An NCAA Tourney Program
Well, we all know that Alabama was among the snubbed that fell short of a bid for the big dance, but now they, at least, have landed the top-seed in their bracket with an opening round tilt against a deep Norfolk State squad.
The line setters are pointing to a more-than easy home win for the Tide, as they arrive to tonight’s game as 16-point favorites, although they did only go 10 – 5 here in Tuscaloosa this campaign.
New Opportunity ➡️ NIT Opener Starts Tomorrow
— Alabama Men’s Basketball (@AlabamaMBB) March 19, 2019
Head Coach Avery Johnson found this kid right, and his name his Kira Lewis Jr. okay, work with me now.
Uh, GOOD CALL AVERY! I mean dude can ball, and that covers that.
The freshman guard came into this season as a 5* recruit according to Scout.com, and I am thinking they nailed it too, as he put up a team-leading 13.6 PPG, dished out about 3 assists a night, and easily led the team in minutes on the court with 31.6 per game.
Petty brought in 10.2 PPG for his sophomore campaign, which is exactly what he took in last year as a freshman, although he brought in 4.2 boards this year, nearly all of his stats are almost identical to last year’s numbers.
• Crimson Tide are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 home games.
• Crimson Tide are 2-8 ATS in their last 10 games overall.
• Over is 8-2 in Crimson Tide last 10 non-conference games.
• Spartans are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games after scoring less than 50 points in their previous game.
• Over is 5-1 in Spartans last 6 road games.
• Over is 5-2 in Spartans last 7 road games vs. a team with a winning home record.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Norfolk State and their depth should easily keep this game closer than the line setters expect, as 16 points is simply too many to leave on the board.
Grab the Spartans, and enjoy all these points.
Norfolk State +16
Prediction: Spartans +16
Full-Game Total Pick
I expect Norfolk State to hang, and I am calling for a 80 – 70 home win for the Tide.
That will cash our doggie tickets with all those points on the Spartans in our pockets, and the total will find its way to the Over as well.
Prediction: Over 143