The spotlight figures to be on two freshman point guards when sixth-seeded Minnesota faces third-seeded Stanford in the NIT championship game at Madison Square Garden today.
Stanford’s Chasson Randle leads his team in scoring while shooting 44 percent from the field, and Andre Hollins scored a team-high 20 points in the Gophers’ 68-67 overtime victory over Washington in the semifinals.
Minnesota is looking for its third NIT crown after winning in 1993 and 1998, although the latter was vacated due to an ineligible player.
Stanford, which won the 1991 NIT title, improved to 11-4 in six NIT appearances with its 74-64 victory over Massachusetts on Tuesday.
“We want to be champions,” Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said. “We want to be able to put a banner up in Maples.”
Josh Owens had 15 points and tied a career high with 12 rebounds against Massachusetts, and he’ll need another strong effort against the Gophers.
Owens will likely be asked to neutralize Minnesota’s Rodney Williams, who was called one of the top five athletes in college basketball by Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins. Guard Anthony Brown scored a season-high 18 points against the Minutemen, including a key 3-pointer late in the game.
The backcourt trio of Randle, Brown and Aaron Bright scored 43 of the team’s 74 points in the win. The title game could be a defensive battle, with Stanford allowing an average of 63.5 points and Minnesota holding teams to an average of 64.5.
Stanford (25-11) vs. Minnesota (23-14)
WHEN: Today, 4 p.m.
WHERE: Madison Square Garden, New York
RADIO: KTCT (1050 AM)