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Thursday, April 4, 2013
W2W4: Baylor vs. Iowa

By Kieran Darcy

Here are three things to watch for when Baylor (22-14, 9-9 Big 12) plays Iowa (25-12, 9-9 Big Ten) on Thursday at Madison Square Garden, in the NIT championship game.

Tipoff is at 9 p.m., and you can watch the game on ESPN.

UNCHARTED TERRITORY: Both teams are attempting to win the NIT for the first time in school history. In fact, Baylor would be the first Big 12 team ever to win the NIT. The Bears were also in the title game back in 2009, losing to Penn State.

Both the Bears and the Hawkeyes hoped to be in the NCAA tournament this season, but things didn't go as planned. Baylor, picked to finish second in the Big 12, ended up in sixth place. Iowa finished sixth in the Big Ten, a game better than Illinois and Minnesota, but those two schools went dancing while the Hawkeyes were left out.

Baylor (a No. 2 seed) and Iowa (a No. 3 seed) have won four games apiece to advance to the NIT final, and both teams sounded fired up after their semifinal victories on Tuesday. This will be only the second meeting ever between the two schools -- Iowa defeated Baylor 67-44 back on Dec. 2, 1983.

STAR POWER: Both teams feature an electrifying scorer capable of putting on a show.

For Baylor, point guard Pierre Jackson is averaging 19.9 points and seven assists per game this season. He leads all Big 12 players in both categories, and is about to become the first player to lead a major conference in both categories in a season since Arizona's Jason Terry in 1998-99. The 5-foot-10 senior has scored at least 20 points and dished out at least 10 assists in each of the team's past three games.

For Iowa, swingman Roy Devyn Marble is averaging 15.2 points per game on the season, but has boosted his scoring average to 24.3 points per game in the NIT. The 6-foot-6 junior can put the ball on the floor, or fill it up from the perimeter. He's the son of Roy Marble, a three-time All-Big Ten player for Iowa and the leading scorer in school history.

COMPARE AND CONTRAST: This is a matchup pitting one of the best offensive teams in the country versus one of the best defensive teams.

Baylor is ranked 21st in Division I in scoring offense, averaging 76 points per game. Iowa is ranked 19th in Division I in defensive field-goal percentage, holding teams to just 38.9 percent shooting.