The tradition of the NIT Semifinals and title game being played at Madison Square Garden will end this season, but the competitive basketball will continue on Tuesday as the North Texas Mean Green take on the Wisconsin Badgers in Las Vegas with a spot in the NIT Finals on the line.
Wisconsin Badgers and North Texas Mean Green (-1.5, 115.5)
Both teams play at slow paces with North Texas playing at a rate of more than full possession slower than any other team in the nation while Wisconsin ranks 343rd in possessions per game.
Playing slow does not always equate to efficient defense, but North Texas excels in both areas, ranking ninth in the nation in points allowed per possession with Wisconsin ranking 74th.
Despite Wisconsin leading the nation in fewest turnovers per possession on offense, it ranks just 231st in points scored on a per-possession basis on the road while shooting 65.9% from the free throw line, good for 323rd.
The Badgers’ lack of offensive production is also due to their issues on the glass, grabbing a rebound on just 20.3% of their possessions, good for 332nd in the nation in percentage of misses that result in a rebound.
The Badgers also rank 302nd in total rebound rate while the Mean Green rank 39th among the 363 Division I teams in road rebound rate. As a squad, they are grabbing rebounds 33% of the time when on the road, good for the 15th-highest percentage in the nation.
North Texas’ top rebounder, Abou Ousmane, missed its last two games, averaging 11.1 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game. Though Moulaye Sissoko’s averaging just 2.2 points and 2.1 rebounds per game this season, he filled Ousmane’s shoes well in the team’s most recent game against Oklahoma State with 12 points and 15 rebounds.
Despite clearly being the slower team, North Texas has the best scorer on the floor in Tylor Perry, who’s averaging 17.3 points and 2.1 assists per game on 41.9% from the beyond the arc. As a squad, North Texas ranks 57th in the nation in road 3-point shooting percentage at 35.7%.
With the Mean Green having the advantage on the boards and being the more efficient defense against a Badgers team that has scored 70 points or fewer in regulation of 19 of their 22 games since the new year, they will advance to the NIT Final.
The Play: North Texas -1.5
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