Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Early-season tournament preview, part I: pre-Thanksgiving

Yep.  Here at this fine blog, we're going to cover each and every neutral-site tournament that will take place in the non-conference schedule in the next 2 months.  This post will deal with the upcoming tournament this week, before the Thanksgiving rush.

Puerto Rico Tip-Off
Nov 19, 20, 22
8 teams, your standard 8-team bracket format
Temple vs. Minnesota
Butler vs. Missouri St
Miami vs. Mississippi St
Utah vs. Texas Tech
The stakes:  We have teams of varying expectations, with most of them having small expectations.  I'm not expecting Mississippi St or Texas Tech to do much here, for example.  Utah and Butler are your two best teams, and if either lose before the finals, they'll absorb a bad loss.  Miami is the other team I'm looking at that needs a 2-1 week to avoid a partially damaging loss.  For everyone else, this tournament is an opportunity to announce they're actually a contender this year.

Charleston Classic
Nov 19, 20, 22
8 teams, your standard 8-team bracket format
Ole Miss vs. George Mason
Oklahoma St vs. Towson
Long Beach St vs. Seton Hall
Virginia vs. Bradley
The stakes:  Virginia just has to win this tournament.  No single team in here provides a signature win chance, so getting 3 neutral site wins of varying quality will be mandatory.  Oklahoma St is probably the 2nd best team in this field and should probably plan on handling Ole Miss to avoid any type of profile damage.  Also keep an eye on Long Beach St, who already handled BYU.  The losers bracket in this tournament will be poor; but if they beat Seton Hall, they get a free money chance at Virginia and probably Ole Miss too.

2K Classic
Nov 20, 22
4 teams, with another 4 weak teams in a consolation bracket
Wisconsin vs. Georgetown
Duke vs. VCU
The stakes:  Boy, this worked out well.   Wisky and GU both absorbed terribad losses, and now have a shot at redemption.  The winner of that game gets a house money chance at Duke.  The loser gets the sting of another loss, although VCU won't be that bad of a second opponent.  Of course, I expect Duke to handle all teams in this field easily.
As part of this tourney, there's a bunch of campus site games between the top 4 and the bottom 4 (Radford, Prairie View, Bryant, Siena).  Obviously we know how Radford/Georgetown went.  These bottom 4 play in their own mini-tournament, hosted by Bryant.

Paradise Jam
Nov 20-23
8 teams, your standard 8-team bracket with a bye day for the quarterfinal winners
Ohio vs. Tulsa
Indiana St vs. Norfolk St
Hofstra vs. Florida St
DePaul vs. South Carolina
The stakes;  What an odd grouping.  You have a AAC contender in the top half, and a CAA favorite lumped in with 3 middling power conference teams on the bottom half.  Hofstra is probably a bit too far away from thinking about an at-large bid, but if they can find 3 wins here, I'll give them a fighting chance.  I don't expect much out of DePaul and USC, so FSU really needs to handle their business.  On the top half, Tulsa is clearly the best team and reallllly needs to handle their end of the draw.

Hall of Fame Tip-Off
Nov 21, 22
4 teams, with another 4 weak teams in a consolation bracket
Old Dominion vs. Purdue
St Joseph's vs. Florida
The stakes:  Well, here's a big chance for ODU.  Purdue and Florida will get chances in conference play to pad an at-large resume.  ODU won't.  So much more important for them.  Beat Purdue and get a quality win and a house money chance at Florida.  Lose and get an irrelevant game with St Joe's.  Not to overplay it, but a huge swing game for ODU.
In the bottom 4 in the draw, Vermont and Buffalo are reasonably decent teams (and get Niagara and NC A&T).  If they can both win, Vermont/Buffalo might be a good game.

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