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2013 Holiday Tournaments (Part 1)

In 2013, college basketball practices were allowed to start earlier which means Midnight Madness is now spread over four weekends. That has taken some of the flair out of the tipoff to the season.

And that’s a bad thing because the real season tips off is usually a bit of a yawn. Friday, November 8th features a few intriguing games (such as Maryland vs Connecticut) but most people probably won’t get too excited until the 24-hour marathon On November 12th. But the 24-hour marathon isn’t quite must-see TV either. West Virginia vs Virginia Tech might be an intriguing matchup again in a few years, but after how those teams fared last year, I can’t quite recommend that people skip work to watch it in the afternoon. Any many of the AM games are only draws to the true college basketball die-hards.

Luckily ESPN has built one true must-see TV event. On the night of November 12th we get the Champions Classic pairing Duke vs Kansas and Michigan St. vs Kentucky. I will talk more about that event as it approaches. But assuming your team isn’t one of those four blue-bloods, the true tipoff is probably the string of holiday tournaments. Today, I will start breaking down these tournaments down in a three part series.

2K Sports Nov 21-22

While my preseason rankings won’t be revealed until closer to the start of the season, I thought I would use my rankings to project some of the early season tournaments. Each of the tables lists the odds of each team advancing through each round. Teams are ordered as they appear in the bracket meaning Boston College plays Connecticut in the first round of the first event.

 

Final

Champ

Boston College

30%

10%

Connecticut

70%

38%

Indiana

57%

31%

Washington

43%

20% 

Connecticut has been reluctant to play Boston College since BC left for the ACC, but the regional rivals will square off in the first tournament of the season. And the guard play in this tournament should be outstanding. Connecticut is the favorite thanks to Ryan Boatright and Shabazz Napier. But everyone wants to see BC rising sophomore Olivier Hanlan after he exploded for 41 points in the first round of the ACC tournament last year. Meanwhile Indiana PG Yogi Ferrell will try to lead a young but talented Hoosier team. And Washington adds elite PG recruit Nigel Williams-Goss.

Puerto Rico Tip Off, Nov 21-24

 

Semis

Final

Champ

Charlotte

16%

2%

0%

Kansas St.

84%

36%

11%

Northeastern

11%

2%

0%

Georgetown

89%

59%

25%

Long Beach St.

7%

1%

0%

Michigan

93%

62%

43%

Florida St.

23%

5%

1%

VCU

77%

33%

19%

Michigan and VCU are the best two teams, but because they are on the same half of the bracket, VCU’s title odds are only third best.

VCU added Florida St. transfer Terrance Shannon this off-season which adds some intrigue to the first round game between the two schools. But Leonard Hamilton’s Florida St. teams almost always struggle with turnovers, and that is a bad sign against VCU’s HAVOC.

Kansas St. loses half its roster to graduation or transfer, and now no one on the Kansas St. roster was ranked out of the Top 100 out of high school. Kansas St. could be primed for an upset, but Charlotte also must replace substantial production, and they aren’t the ideal sleeper team.

Georgetown and Northeastern both lose their most important player from last year (Otto Porter and Joel Smith respectively). Despite a CAA title last year, I don’t view Northeastern as a likely upset possibility. That’s because Northeastern was very fortunate in close games last year and their overall margin-of-victory numbers were not that strong.

Charleston Classic, Nov 21-24

 

Semis

Final

Champ

Nebraska

35%

7%

3%

Massachusetts

65%

21%

12%

UAB

23%

12%

6%

New Mexico

77%

60%

48%

Georgia

44%

21%

6%

Davidson

56%

31%

10%

Temple

39%

16%

4%

Clemson

61%

32%

10% 

With four starters back from last year’s MWC championship team, New Mexico is the heavy favorite. But the rest of this field is extremely balanced. UMass might be the next best team thanks to elite PG Chaz Williams, but as their 9-7 record in the A10 last year showed, they were an inconsistent team too. A lot of people will lean towards Temple here based on their recent history, but this is by far the weakest returning roster head coach Fran Dunphy has had in his career at Temple.

Coaches vs Cancer, Nov 22 and 23

 

Final

Champ

Oklahoma

39%

5%

Seton Hall

61%

11%

Virginia Tech

6%

2%

Michigan St.

94%

83%

Oklahoma, Seton Hall and Virginia Tech are not in Michigan St.’s league. It would be better to watch the Spartans in the Champions Classic when they take on Kentucky. Or it would be more fun to take the trip to Madison Square Garden to see the Spartans play Georgetown in a February non-conference matchup before the Super Bowl. This tournament is not worth the trip.

Hall of Fame Tipoff, Nov 23 and 24

 

Final

Champ

North Carolina

78%

31%

Richmond

22%

4%

Louisville

93%

64%

Fairfield

7%

1%

This tournament on the other hand, is extremely intriguing. Everyone knows about defending champion Louisville. I would like to see which elite PG recruit Chris Jones or Terry Rozier plays better in their attempt to replace Peyton Siva. And I would like to see how the team defends the paint without Gorgui Dieng. But we know the Louisville juggernaut well. Russ Smith and Luke Hancock are household names at this point and if Montrezl Harrell isn’t a household name now, he will be in March.

So this tournament is really a litmus test for the Tar Heels. How far has Roy Williams team come? I know a lot of people don’t give Roy Williams credit for his coaching ability. They think he only wins with talent. But what Williams really does is throw his freshmen into the fire early. They often struggle, but by the time they are sophomores they are usually substantially improved. I would expect Marcus Paige and Brice Johnson in particular, to make big strides from last season. And with a few more reinforcements like Isaiah Hicks and Kennedy Meeks in the front court, this team will not lack explosive offensive players.

The only thing that would stop me from ranking the Tar Heels in the Top 10 at this point is the PJ Hairston situation. Hairston has had numerous off-court incidents this offseason, and while it seems like North Carolina is going to take the public relations hit and start playing Hairston pretty early in the season, that distraction is disconcerting.

Paradise Jam, Nov 22-25

 

Semis

Final

Champ

Northern Iowa

70%

31%

13%

Loyola Marymount

30%

8%

2%

Marist

9%

2%

0%

Maryland

91%

60%

32%

Providence

65%

35%

19%

Vanderbilt

35%

14%

5%

Morgan St.

12%

2%

0%

La Salle

88%

50%

28% 

Maryland will probably finish near .500 in the ACC this year due to the strength of the top of the league. Thus winning a tournament like this would really help their overall perception on selection Sunday. And even with Alex Len departing, I think they can do it. Elite recruit Roddy Peters and returning backup Seth Allen should provide a substantial upgrade over the enigmatic Pe’Shon Howard at PG. Dez Wells is a star. Nick Faust and Jake Layman are former elite recruits who continue to have great upside. The team adds Michigan transfer Even Smotrycz and his outstanding outside shooting. And Shaquille Cleare, Charles Mitchell, and Damonte Dodd provided plenty of muscle in the paint.

My only concern is that if Jon Graham doesn’t get a waiver, the team really only has 9 scholarship players. That is risky because if someone doesn’t play well, there are not any other options. Moreover, even a minor injury (like Shaquille Cleare’s ongoing back problems) can make it hard to practice and can substantially weaken the rotation. The lack of depth probably won’t be a concern in November, but it will be something to watch as the year rolls on.

La Salle, fresh off a Sweet Sixteen run, is the other favorite in this event. Ramon Galloway is gone, but just about everyone else is back from last year’s team.

But don’t sleep on Providence. Bryce Cotton, LaDontae Henton, and Kadeem Batts have all been efficient high volume scorers, and Kris Dunn’s recruiting ranking out of high school suggests he should be able to take over and dominate at PG. The team also adds a couple of former Top 100 recruits in transfer Carson Desrosiers and freshman Brandon Austin. This could be the kind of event where Providence upsets a couple of teams on their way to a surprise NCAA tournament bid.

 

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