For those who can’t wait until Saturday for the Final Four, we give you tonight’s NIT semifinals at Madison Square Garden. Remarkably, one of the games includes last year’s NCAA champion North Carolina who will face Rhode Island in the late game. Tonight’s basketballpalooza (all times Eastern) also include a pair of women’s Elite Eight games.
-NIT semifinals: Dayton vs. Mississippi (7:00 pm, ESPN)
The Flyers have turned around a disappointing season (they were preseason favorites to win the Atlantic 10) with a nice run in the NIT, which they last won in 1968. Ole Miss squeaked by Texas Tech in two overtimes and are led by junior guard Chris Warren.
-Women's basketball: No. 1 Connecticut vs. No. 3 Florida State (7:03 pm, ESPN)
The Huskies have won 75 straight games and crushed opponents in their first three tournament games by a combined 148 points. But Florida State, winners of 29 games this season, has one major advantage that most teams in this spot would not: They played UConn during the season and held their own in the first half, trailing only 41-35 at the break. The Seminoles ultimately fell 79-59 on Dec. 28 in Tallahassee.
-NIT semifinals: North Carolina vs. Rhode Island (9:00 pm, ESPN)
The Tar Heels defeated William & Mary, Mississippi State and Alabama-Birmingham on the road to New York City and they’ll face a Rhode Island team that had the highest RPI of any team to miss the NCAA tournament. It’s the Rams first NIT semifinal since 1945.
-Women's basketball: No. 4 Kentucky vs. No. 3 Oklahoma (9:20 pm, ESPN)
These are heady times for the Wildcats, who are playing in their first regional semifinal since 1982 after defeating top-seeded Nebraska Sunday. Kentucky plays an up-tempo style and pressing defense, led by SEC Player of the Year Victoria Dunlap. Oklahoma knocked off Notre Dame thanks to a dominant game on the boards (44-33) and are one game away from returning to the Final Four despite losing All-America center Courtney Paris to graduation and star sophomore Whitney Hand to injury earlier this year.
BY THE NUMBERS
Straight games Warren has scored a 3-point basket for Ole Miss - the third-longest streak in SEC history.
teams (including North Carolina this year) since the NCAA tournament expanded in 1975 that failed to make Big Dance after winning the NCAA tournament the previous year.
Spring training record of Indians starter Fausto Carmona, who SI.com Jon Heyman says appears to have regained his near-Cy Young form in Indians camp.