Printed on: April 02, 2013

New York or bust

BYU will take on Baylor tonight in the NIT final four

By Rick Freeman
AP Sports Writer

NEW YORK -- One of the National Invitation Tournament semifinals set for tonight is a rematch. The other one is a preview -- of a future conference rivalry.

Maryland faces future Big Ten foe Iowa in the second semifinal tonight, after what should be an entertaining, up-tempo matchup between Baylor and BYU, two of the nation's better offenses.

The Cougars visited the Bears three months ago, and it didn't go very well for them. But this time the teams will meet on neutral hardwood at Madison Square Garden in the 76th NIT.

"We're not so excited to play Baylor," BYU coach Dave Rose said. "We played Baylor in December and they handled us pretty well."

The Cougars are hoping their second trip to New York this season goes better than the first one did. They had a pair of double-digit losses in November at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. In the NIT, they beat Washington and Mercer at home, then won at Southern Miss to get back to the big city.

Only to find the Bears waiting for them. Baylor leads the country with more than 93 points per game, while BYU is fourth with 86.

Baylor won three straight at home to get here, beating Long Beach State, Arizona State and Providence. What hurt them during the regular season was losing six of their last eight conference games, including an immediate dismissal from the Big 12 tournament.

But there's almost never an NIT team that hasn't been overmatched at least a couple times during the season, otherwise they'd have made the NCAA tournament. Even so, six weeks ago, Maryland coach Mark Turgeon would have considered making Manhattan to be a bridge too far.

"About mid-February, I didn't know if we were ever going to figure it out," Turgeon said. "Since then, our kids have been great."