Two weeks ago, I presented a grid that showed how BCS teams would be using their early season tournament exemption. Obviously the great match-ups, like those in the Maui Invitational, are the main reason to tune into these exempt events. But often, there are more subtle reasons to care about these tournaments. Here are 12 under-the-radar reasons to watch these neutral site events.
1) Can Northwestern finally get a jump start on an NCAA at-large bid, or will they start the Big Ten season in the hole as always?
2) Shaka Smart stuck around at VCU and the student body is paying much higher fees to pay his salary. But will everyone’s favorite NCAA team continue to knock off BCS teams?
3) And what about Phil Martelli’s St. Joseph’s team? Martelli looked like he might be fired last season after an 11th place A10 finish, but his young team came together during the A10 tournament. Was that a fluke or a sign of things to come? The four-time A10 coach of the year might still have a trick or two up his sleeve.
4) How are the Maryland players going to adapt to Mark Turgeon’s careful, slower paced-offense, after being used to Gary Williams fast-paced attack?
5) Will we finally get to see a healthy Robbie Hummel play for Purdue?
6) Is TCU anywhere near ready to play in a BCS conference? After all, the team is one year away from joining the Big East.
Battle 4 Atlantis:
7) A year after Harvard nearly made the NCAA tournament, can they earn a few quality non-conference victories?
8) Will UTEP be able to beat its former coach at Auburn?
Coaches vs Cancer:
9) What can we expect from a completely re-built St. John’s team?
South Padre Invitational:
10) Is this the Iowa invitational? It features Iowa St. and Northern Iowa this year. Too bad Providence fired Keno Davis because the other Iowa schools would have loved to have faced Tom Davis’ son one more time.
11) Boston College features almost an entirely new roster. But someone has to score right? What surprise players should we get excited about?
Old Spice Classic:
12) With so many weak BCS teams, could the winner of this tournament still miss the NCAA tournament? Will the MAAC host finally makes a run?
Indeed every early season tournament offers a number of intriguing plotlines, in addition to who is playing Duke and North Carolina.