CBB: 10* Northern Kentucky +8 -110 (547)
Take Northern Kentucky (#547)
The first round of the NIT offers some unique opportunities. Season long power ratings ensure that a team like Louisville will be significant home favorites over a team like Northern Kentucky – there is a talent differential here. But from a motivational standpoint, this is not a spot where we can expect much from the home team, while this road underdog is primed to bring their ‘A' game.
Louisville has had less than 48 hours to shake off the disappointment from not getting a bid to the Big Dance. Their students are on Spring Break, leaving the Yum Center every bit as lethargic as the Cardinals team is. It's like not Louisville heads into this game feeling good about themselves --- they've lost five of their last seven overall; a crushing late season collapse. And Louisville certainly isn't playing shutdown defense these days, bad news in this pointspread range.
Northern Kentucky gets an easy travel situation compared to most NIT teams; needing only a 90 minute bus ride to get a chance to face a particularly motivating foe. Let's not forget that Northern Kentucky has a pair of starters from Louisville; one of whom transferred out after last year. The Norse have proven their mettle in hostile road environments all year; with a strong track record on the highway and a 100% perfect ATS mark as underdogs of +5 or higher; hanging tough at Texas A&M and Vermont while winning outright at Oakland. Live dog here! Take Northern Kentucky.