The 2021 men’s NIT is nearly over, and only two teams remain. Mississippi State is set to take on Memphis in the finale. One team checked every box but one when it came to qualifying for the NCAA tournament, while the other didn’t come close to reaching March Madness. Let’s go over what you should know about each team.
Once the odds from DraftKings Sportsbook are made available for this game, we’ll add that information below. We’ll also add the game time and TV channel once it’s settled.
Game date: Sunday, March 28
Game time: 12 p.m. ET
TV channel: ESPN
Location: Fort Worth, Texas
No. 4 Mississippi State 17-14 (8-10)
First Round: Defeated No. 1 Saint Louis 74-68
Second Round: Defeated No. 2 Richmond 68-67
Third Round: Defeated No. 4 Louisiana Tech 84-62
KenPom rating: 75 Overall, 101 Offense, 52 Defense
Leading scorer: Iverson Molinar (16.8 ppg)
Mississippi State couldn't cut it in the tough SEC but managed to pull off a pair of narrow upsets against Saint Louis and Richmond in the opening two rounds before blowing out a fellow No. 4 seed in Louisiana Tech. DJ Stewart is on a tear and has scored more than 20 points in every round so far. He and Iverson Molinar will have to continue putting the ball in the basket at an elite level to lead the Bulldogs to a championship, as their next opponent doesn’t give up points easily.
No. 1 Memphis 19-8 (11-4)
First Round: Defeated No. 4 Dayton 71-60
Second Round: Defeated No. 2 Boise State 59-56
Third Round: Defeated No. Colorado State 90-67
KenPom rating: 33 Overall, 122 Offense, 2 Defense
Leading scorer: Landers Nolley II (12.7 ppg)
Memphis was 52nd in the NET and didn’t make the cut for March Madness because it didn’t manage to get a Quad 1 win. It lost to Houston by a narrow margin in the AAC Tournament semifinals and has made the most of its opportunity in the NIT. The Tigers have one of the best defenses in the nation. Only Loyola Chicago has a better defensive KenPom rating. Their ability to get stops makes up for their often lackluster offense. Landers Nolley leads the team with a modest 12.7 points per game but has eclipsed 20 points twice during NIT play to help lead Memphis to victory. His first and third-round performances highlighted his team’s wins over Dayton and Colorado State.