2011 NIT Championship Betting Odds: Wichita State vs. Alabama

Written by:
Carrie Stroup
Published on:
Mar/31/2011
2011 NIT Championship Betting Odds

The 2011 NIT Championship betting odds for Wichita State vs. Alabama featured a line of -2 on the 4th-seeded Shockers.  The total in this game was set at 128.5.  All odds courtesy of Sportsbook.com.

It’s good, and interesting, to be Anthony Grant, wherever he’s coaching. On Thursday, the Alabama coach will lead his squad into Madison Square Garden to do battle against Wichita State in the championship game of the National Invitation Tournament Championship. On Saturday, the Alabama coach will be paying close attention to the adventures of his former team, Virginia Commonwealth, who just so happen to be in the NCAA Final Four for the first time ever. Grant has expressed happiness for his former team, and some of the stars of the Rams tournament run, players like Joey Rodriguez and Bradford Burgess, who Grant recruited, and Jamie Skeen, who transferred into the program before Grant left. Still, knowing that Alabama was right on the edge of making the big dance, and seeing that VCU was on the edge when it got an at-large bid that was surprising to many, has left a bittersweet taste in Grant throughout this month of March. The timeliness of Alabama’s NIT march has been as convenient a distraction as Grant could have hoped for. Now he will focus on Thursday night not on where he was, or where he could be, but rather, where he is and his institution is. The Crimson Tide has been to the NIT semifinals six times, yet they have never won the NIT championship. All that can be put to an end Thursday with a victory over the Shockers of Wichita State.

Like ‘Bama, Wichita State will be going for its first-ever NIT title. WSU enters the championship game off of an old-fashioned, country whooping they laid down on Washington State on Tuesday, de-fanging the Cougars 75-44. Garrett Stutz had a career-high 24 points with 11 rebounds, while Toure’ Murry added 13 points, as the Shockers won for the 28th time this season, setting a new school record, blazing a trail to the championship game. The victory also marked the first time Wichita State had won in Madison Square Garden in the NIT, having been winless in its previous four games. WSU held the Cougars to 29% shooting, while keeping all 13 Washington State players from scoring in double figures. Klay Thompson, who entered the game averaging 22.0 PPG, shot a forgettable 1-for-10 from the field and 0-for-5 from downtown, as his six points matched a season-worst scoring night. Wichita State did not allow a three-pointer all night, as the Shockers raced to a 17-point, halftime advantage and never looked back from there. Stutz, a 7-foot junior from Kansas City, only averages 7.1 PPG and just over 14 minutes per game, but broke out for his highest scoring and rebounding game of the year. It was Stutz’s first double-double of the season. Senior Gabe Blair also added 10. "That's about as well as we've played in a long time, and I'm just so happy these guys are continuing to play," Shockers head coach Gregg Marshall said. "They really showed a lot of resilience, and they're playing better, and that's what you want your team to do, play better at the end." Wichita State and Alabama have had common opponents. Both teams defeated Alabama A&M by more than 20 points, but against LSU, Wichita State had to squeeze out a one-point win on a Garrett Stutz (there’s that name again) three-point shot with 0:07 to play. The Tide, on the other hand, defeated the Tigers handily by double figures each time they met. Wichita State’s FG Pct. defense of 40.9% (34.3% from downtown) will likely need to be a little stingier than normal against Alabama, who at 38.3%, has the third-best FG Pct. defense in the country. The Shockers should expect to shoot poorer than normal when they face the Tide.

Alabama is in the championship game after proving it could win an NIT game away from its home court. The Tide also proved they could win a tight NIT game as well. After cruising through three uneventful contests to get to New York City, Grant’s squad needed the late-game heroics of freshman Trevor Releford whose driving basket along the baseline with 0:12 left gave the Tide the one-point advantage that would be the difference. "I'm glad that we have a chance to play for a championship," Releford said. "We're excited," Grant said. "Obviously we're disappointed when we didn't reach one of our goals, to go to the NCAA Tournament, but our guys turned the page quickly." Alabama got a clutch game just in the nick of time from leading scorer JaMychal Green, who had been slumping, averaging 9.6 PPG in his three previous NIT games. With his squad facing elimination, Green scored 22 points on 11-of-16 shooting, adding five rebounds, and keeping the Tide rolling throughout the night, setting the stage for Releford’s game-winning shot. Alabama shot 50% for the game, well above its 44.5% average on the season, while at the same time holding the high-scoring Buffaloes (79.6 PPG, 13th-best in Division I) to just 61 points on 40% shooting. The tenacious defense overall helped to make up for a pronounced three-point shooting disparity, where Colorado outscored the Tide 24-6 from beyond the arc. Alabama has won 20 of its past 25 games, while Wichita State has 19 victories in its past 25 contests.

The Shockers are 17-14 ATS (55%) this season, including a 16-11 ATS (59%) mark when favored and 3-2 ATS on a neutral court. Alabama is 18-13 ATS (58%), 4-8 ATS (33%) as an underdog and 1-5 ATS in neutral site games. But recently, the Tide have been the more favorable play at 13-5 ATS (72%) in their past 18 games, while WSU is just 9-9 in its past 18 contests. With two teams looking for its first NIT title, the winner of Thursday night’s game will view that championship as far from representing the old NIT acronym of a “Not Important Tournament.”

- Carrie Stroup, Gambling911.com Senior Reporter

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