UNT Faces Wisconsin in NIT Semifinals

Tyler Perry of UNT speaks at NIT Semifinal media day | Image by University of North Texas/Twitter

The North Texas Mean Green plays the Wisconsin Badgers in one of Tuesday’s NIT semifinal games in Las Vegas.

The Mean Green finished in second place in Conference USA this season and continues to add to a program-record 29 wins.

A win on Tuesday would be the 11th postseason win for UNT under coach Grant McCasland and cement the program’s first 30-win season.

“This is a program that’s really experienced a lot of firsts thanks to these guys,” McCasland said in a press conference on Monday.

“First NCAA Tournament, first NIT appearance and we got to win some games and then now, able to be here in Vegas is really a huge blessing and [I’m] proud of our university. It’s taken a lot of people to get to this position, so our administration and our university in Denton, just a lot of people supporting and thankful and excited to be here.”

The Mean Green enter Tuesday’s game as 1.5-point underdogs against the Badgers.

Wisconsin (20-14) is on its longest winning streak since early December and early January after struggling to a 12th-place finish in the Big Ten. The Badgers defeated Bradley, Liberty, and Oregon to reach the semifinals.

UNT and Wisconsin have similar playing styles involving great defense and intentionally slow-paced offenses.

North Texas leads the nation in scoring defense, allowing 55.7 points per game, while Wisconsin is 30th at 63.8 points per game. Offensively, both rank near the bottom of the 352 teams across the country, averaging in the mid-60s in scoring, mainly due to their play pace.

Tylor Perry has been the leader for the Mena Green all season, averaging 17.3 points. Meanwhile, Steven Crowl and Chucky Hepburn lead the Badgers with around 12 points per game.

Wisconsin and North Texas will square off at Orleans Arena at 6 p.m. CT Tuesday.

The winner plays either Utah Valley (28-8) or UAB (28-9), which ended UNT’s hopes of making the NCAA Tournament in the Conference USA semifinals, in the NIT Championship at 8:40 p.m. CT Thursday.

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