Steve Merril’s Full College Report (March 14)

The NIT and NCAA Tournament kick off tonight as 14 teams begin play in the National Invitation Tournament, while Hampton and Monmouth officially kick off the NCAA Tournament by participating in the gatehouse game.

Below is a look at the two college basketball games on ESPN national television for Tuesday night.

NCAA Tournament

HAMPTON vs. MONTH (-4, 124) (at Dayton, OH) (ESPN)

It comes as no surprise that Hampton faces Monmouth in the gate game as these two clubs have the two weakest RPIs in this year’s tournament. Hampton is the worst team in the Field of 65 with an RPI of 284 and the Pirates needed to win four games in four days last week in the Middle East Conference tournament. The Pirates won outright in the final, 60-56, as a 5-point underdog against the best team in the conference, Delaware State, which had a solid 123 RPI.

Hampton started the season just 1-7 SU as they were missing some key players in November and December; however, the Pirates went on a solid 15-8 SU run in their last twenty-three games. Hampton played an incredibly weak schedule as they faced only seven teams ranked in the RPI top 200 and they only went 2-5 SU in those seven games.

Monmouth also upset their conference tournament, beating the top two teams, Central Connecticut State and Fairleigh Dickinson, to clinch a bid. Monmouth has the second worst RPI in the Field of 65 this year. Monmouth’s RPI is 144 and they were 7-8 SU against the top 200 opponents they faced.

Both teams have solid defenses as each club leads their conferences in field goal percentage allowed. Hampton allowed just 39.1 percent and Monmouth allowed just 40.8 percent in conference play this season.

TIN

VIRGINIA at STANFORD (-4 ½, 129 ½) (ESPN)

Both Virginia and Stanford have struggled down the stretch, as the Cavaliers were 1-4 SU (1-3-1 ATS) in the last five games, while Stanford was 2-4 SU (1-5 ATS) in their last six games.

There have been no recent head-to-head encounters between these squads; however, they had three common opponents this season (Gonzaga, Virginia Tech, and Arizona). Virginia lost both games against Arizona and Gonzaga and was 3-0 SU/ATS in three meetings against in-state rival Virginia Tech, including a recent victory in the ACC Tournament last Thursday.

Stanford lost both games against Gonzaga and Virginia Tech and also went 0-3 SU (1-2 ATS) in three meetings against conference rival Arizona, including a loss last Thursday in the PAC 10 Tournament.

Overall, Virginia was 3-2 SU (4-1 ATS) against common opponents this season, while Stanford was 0-5 SU (2-3 ATS) in those same games. Virginia was outscored by an average score of 63-69 per game and outshot from the field by 43-45 percent, while Stanford lost by an average score of 70-76 but outshot their opponents by 46. -45 percent overall.

Stanford has home court advantage in this game, where the Cardinals were 10-3 SU this season. Virginia was just 4-11 SU on the road, but the Cavaliers have a slightly higher RPI of 80, while Stanford finished with an RPI of 86. Virginia also did better against quality teams, going 5-12 SU on the road. compared to the RPI Top 100., while Stanford was just 2-9 SU against that same level of competition.

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