NIT Opening Round Preview: No Time for a Selection Sunday Hangover

[USATSI]
Written by Kyle Cox

Oklahoma State is not in the Big Dance and while the reasons for that still elude common sense and logic, there is more basketball to be played.

The Cowboys play host to the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles for Round 1 of the NIT on Tuesday night 8 p.m. It will be the first ever meeting between the two schools.

Here’s how to tune in, if you aren’t making the trek to Stillwater.

• When: Tuesday, March 13 at 8 p.m.
• Where: Gallagher-Iba Arena, Stillwater, Okla.
• TV: ESPN2
• WebcastESPN3.com or ESPN app
• Radio: Cowboy Radio Network (Dave Hunziker and John Holcomb)

Florida Gulf Coast started its men’s basketball program in the 2002-03 season as an independent Division-II school and moved to the Division I for the start of the 2007-08 season before going on their crazy NCAA Tournament run in 2013. The Eagles have been to the NIT just once, losing to Florida State in the first round in 2014.

If they Eagles want to get close to pulling the upset, it will likely be because of Brandon Goodwin. The senior guard is averaging 18.6 points per game (second in the A-Sun) and has finished third in assists per game (4.8 this year) in his conference in consecutive seasons.

Schedule Crossover

These two teams faced two common foes this season — Wichita State and Oral Roberts. The Cowboys embarrassed assistant coach Scott Sutton’s former team 91-48, while Florida Gulf Coast lost by 19 to the Golden Eagles. Both teams lost to Wichita State, OSU at home 78-66 and Gulf Coast hung in to lose by 10 on the road to the Shockers.

Florida Gulf Coast went 12-2 in the Atlantic Sun Conference, winning its third conference title ever, and third since 2014. The Eagles lost in the A-Sun Tournament championship game to Lipscomb.

But this is not the same Eagle team that enjoyed a miraculous run to the Sweet 16 in 2013 behind Andy Enfield. These Eagles are ranked 132 by KenPom’s rankings and are given just a 17-percent chance to ruin everyone in Stillwater’s week.

The biggest challenge for Oklahoma State and Mike Boynton will be that of motivation. This was a proud group that felt like they were a lot closer to getting into the field of 68 than even we did. To find out how far that actually were from their goal, can be a hard thing to get over.

But during Boynton’s inaugural campaign, he and his team have proven to be nothing if not resilient. I’d expect a pretty dominant showing from the Cowboys on Tuesday night.

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