It’s rare for the NIT to ‘steal’ the NCAA tournament headlines, but that may be the case tonight when Hall of Fame head coach John Chaney announced his retirement last night, while the big news of the NCAA is your entry game. Chaney has been a coach for 34 years (24 at Temple) winning 741 games (516-252 at Temple). Only four active coaches have more career wins than Chaney and he has led Temple to the NCAA tournament 17 times.

My free game Tuesday is at Fairleigh Dickinson over Manhattan at 7:00 ET. Join me tonight for another 15 * games in the NBA (now 7-3 from Feb 3) and in college basketball, for my 20 * NIT GOY Opening Round (4-2 last week with my 20 * Tournament Games of the Year).

Unfortunately, he will also be remembered for the fact that he owns the most NCAA tournament wins by any coach who has not made it to the Final Four (23). Chaney led Temple to five regional finals (the last of which was in 2001), losing all five times!

His 40 NCAA career games rank him third behind Guy Lewis (44) and Eddie Sutton (65) in most games of the tournament without a trip to Final 4. Temple’s appearance tonight at the NIT (the Owls introduce Akron), marks the school’s fifth consecutive appearance on the NIT, which isn’t good news for a school that was once an NCAA regular.

The NIT (now owned and managed by the NCAA) begins tonight with a 16-team, eight-game opening round. Once the most prestigious tournament in college basketball, the NIT is now the only event where no team wants to return as defending champions. That distinction goes to South Carolina this year.

The Gamecocks won this title last year and came close to losing 49-47 to Florida in the SEC title game Sunday, not returning as the defending champions. South Carolina begins its “unwanted defense” tomorrow against Western Ky.

In a change this year, schools that won their regular season titles but lost in their respective conference tournaments had guaranteed offers for this year’s NIT. The State of Delaware (MEAC), Fairleigh Dickinson (NEC), Ga Southern (south), Manhattan (MAAC), Northern Arizona (Big Sky) and Western Ky (SBC) were the six schools that benefited this year.

As mentioned above, Western Ky opens tomorrow against South Carolina, but the other five regular season champions play tonight. Fairleigh Dickinson is in Manhattan, Delaware St in northern Arizona, and Ga Southern is in NC-Charlotte. ESPNU brings Rutgers to Penn St (8:00 ET) and ESPN has Virginia to Stanford (9:30 ET)

The NIT has four No. 1 seeds this year and they are Cincinnati, Maryland, Michigan and Louisville. Hofstra (24-6) has the most wins of any NIT entrant, which also gives them the distinction of having the most wins of any team not in the NCAA tournament. Pride will host Nebraska on Thursday.

Missouri St, with an RPI of 21, holds the distinction of having the highest rating of any team in this year’s NIT, which also means the Bears have the highest RPI of any non-NCAA school. The Bears don’t play their first game until Friday.

For the first time in five years, the NCAA game does not include a school with a losing record. Interestingly, those sub-.500 teams made a perfect 4-0 SU and ATS the last four years in the opening game. Tonight, it’s Monmouth 18-14 against Hampton 16-15 (7:30 ET on ESPN).

Monmouth is a deep team (nine players average double digits in minutes) but only two players average double digits in scoring. Hampton had lost six of seven games to end the regular season, but then beat MEAC’s No. 3 and No. 1 seeds to win the conference tournament. Monmouth is favored by four points with a total of 124 1/2.

In Monday’s NBA, the Pacers beat the Magic 97-83. Orlando has now lost 19 of its last 23 games. Keeping pace with the Magic are the Knicks, who lost for the 24th time in their last 28 games last night (108-96 to the Nuggets). The Nets won 90-77 in Houston, while the Rockets fell to 1-15 without Tracy McGrady. To add insult to injury, David Wesley, the only Rocket to have played in every game this season, missed his first game of the season last night after hurting himself against the Spurs on Sunday.

The T-wolves may not be in the Magic and Knicks class, but they lost their fifth straight game last night to the Clippers (95-87), giving them their 19th loss in their last 22 road games.

Tonight’s NBA features a nine-game schedule. The Mavs and Spurs (tied 49-14) are at home tonight, with Dallas hosting Cleveland at 8:35 ET (Mavs are favorites by 7 1/2 points with 187 total) and San Antonio hosting the Hornets also at 8:35 ET (Spurs are favored by 10 1/2 points with a total of 179 1/2).

The Lakers eliminated the Kings in the playoffs in each of their three championship years (2000-02), but these days, these two former Western Conference powerhouses are fighting at the bottom of the playoff ‘picture’ . The Lakers (seventh) lead the Kings (eighth) by half a game and the Kings are just half a game ahead of the Ninth-seeded Hornets. However, Sacramento is on a 12-game winning streak at home (9-0 SU and ATS with Artest) in their game with the Lakers tonight at Arco (10:05 ET). The Kings are favored by seven points with a total of 204.

In Seattle, the Sonics host the Suns at 10:05 ET. The last time these teams met was on January 22 in Phoenix and in that game, the Sonics beat the Suns in double overtime, 152-149. The 301 points scored marked the highest-scoring NBA game since 1995. The two teams also combined for a single NBA game record by making 32 triples. The Suns have won eight of their last 10 road games, while the Sonics are playing much better since halftime, at 5-5 SU and 7-3 ATS. Phoenix is ​​favored by 5 1/2 points and the total is 226!

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