Scouting NIT Tournament First Round: Cleveland St vs. Xavier
By Andy Mac Williams, 3/14/2022

Scouting Xavier's 1st Round NIT Game vs Cleveland State at Cintas-Tuesday March 15th-9 PM EDT-TV ESPNU. Muskies are #2 Seed in their 8 team Region. X is 18-13 0verall and 13-5 at Cintas including 8-0 non-conference at home w/ wins over Ohio State, UC, Marquette, Creighton and UConn on Victory Parkway. Muskies posted a 40 NET-2nd highest in NIT field of 32(Oklahoma is 39 NET). Cleveland State is 20-10, winning Horizon League regular season title at 15-6 for automatic NIT bid.

CSU was upset by Wright State in Horizon League Tourney Semi-finals. WSU beat NKU for Horizon NCAA berth. CSU is 5-6 road-best away win at Wright State. Vikings NET is 182. They lost their only two NET Quad 1 games (at BYU and at Oklahoma State-98-93 in OT-XU won at Oklahoma State 77-71). CSU did most of their damage vs NET Quad 4 teams in the Horizon (17-2).

CSU won Horizon regular season last year then advanced to NCAA by winning the conference tourney. They lost NCAA 1st Round as a 15 Seed to Houston.

Dennis Gates is CSU's 3rd year coach (50-39). He was in the mix for the Georgia coaching job, but Bulldogs just hired Florida Gator coach Mike White last night. That might explain CSU's 1-3 record over the last 10 days? Gates is reportedly on the short list for the Boston College job?

Ironically, if XU beats CSU, they will play the winner of Iona vs Florida. That 2nd round game would be played Sunday at Cintas if Muskies beat the Vikings?

Travis Steele on NIT:

"Obviously, we were very disappointed in not making the NCAA field. It's a great life lesson for all of us-coaches-players-staff. We had tons of opportunities and just did not stake our claim. We are all in for this NIT experience. We can't be wishy washy or one foot in-one foot out or we'll get beat. All these NIT teams are too good. Our goal was NCAA. Now we need to get better and springboard us into next season."

Added exposure for young players is important. Unfortunately, Cesare Edwards may miss CSU w/ a foot infection. He could be ready Sunday for Game#2 if XU advances. Everybody else is available.

More Travis on Cleveland State:

"They had the 2nd most experience in returning talent when the season began. They start 5 Seniors who play hard-try to turn you over and bully you. They are a very good offensive rebounding team (21st NCAA)-sending all 5 to the glass. They're disruptive and handsy(27th in steals). Three of their guys made the All Defensive Team in their league. They play 4 guards and switch ball screens 1-5. Everybody is interchangeable offensively. You can even see their 5 man(6-9 Deante Johnson) running the point."

CSU's "go to" man is 6-5 195 5th year Senior Torrey Patton (14PPG-6 REBS-3.5 ASSISTS). 3 level scorer-draws a ton of fouls-from Trotwood Madison HS in Dayton. Top scorer is 6-4 180 Senior D' Moi Hodge from Virgin Islands and Florida Juco (15.5PPG-Horizon Def. POY).

Travis watched 18 hours of CSU tape before Monday's practice. He was very impressed by 6-4 Tre Gomillion (an efficient energizer bunny). CSU scores 77PPG and gives up 69. FT shooting is just 67%. They pile up points inside the arc 2x2 attacking the rim and on the fast break.

Ken Pom picks Xavier, 83-69. Muskies better bring their "A" game against a veteran connected ball sharing unselfish group.

A 2nd Round home game Sunday works for me. The region's #1 Seed Dayton could be waiting in NIT Round 3 (Quarterfinals). X-Dayton would be played at UD Arena.

Flyers have no picnic playing at MAC regular season champ Toledo. UD Arena is booked-hosting NCAA games Tuesday and Wednesday.

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