Pac-12 Early Season Tournament Round-Up/PreviewPosted by AMurawa on November 22nd, 2011
It’s a great time to be a college hoops fan. This week in college basketball is arguably the fifth best week in the season, you know, right behind the three weeks of the NCAA Tournament and the week of the conference championships. We’ve got a chance to see teams, often for the first time, matched up with other schools from disparate corners of the country in tournament play, with the opportunities for teams to snag resume-boosting wins in rapid-fire fashion. Sure, we’ve already got a few tournaments wrapped up, and there are even a handful that come along later, but for the most part we’re right in the wheelhouse for the early season tournaments. So, we’ll take a quick look at all the Pac-12 teams and either preview or review the early season tournaments that each team is participating in.
- Arizona – The Wildcats got things started right off the bat with an appearance in the Coaches vs. Cancer tournament. After dispatching of Valparaiso and Duquesne in the first week of the season, they rallied from behind in the semifinal against St. John’s to advance to the championship game, but folded down the stretch there, losing to Mississippi State.
- Arizona State – The Sun Devils are in Orlando over the Thanksgiving weekend for the Old Spice Classic. They’ll get things started with Fairfield, expected to battle Iona for the MAAC title this year, before facing either Dayton or Wake Forest on Friday. Texas Tech, Indiana State, Minnesota and DePaul make up the other side of what looks to be a relatively weak bracket, but given ASU’s poor start to the season, expecting them to do much damage in Orlando seems to be a pipe dream.
- California – The Golden Bears are in the middle of the CBE Classic tournament in Kansas City this week, where they will play Missouri tonight in the championship game at 7 PM PST. They got to the final by demolishing Georgia last night 70-46, after handling George Washington and Austin Peay with ease in Berkeley last week.
- Colorado – A seventh place showing in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off wasn’t what Buffalo head coach Tad Boyle had in mind, but that’s exactly what he got last weekend, after dropping the first two games of the week to Wichita State and Maryland in relatively close games before taking care of Western Michigan to avoid a winless trip to the tropics.
- Oregon – The Ducks spend their tournament time in something called the Global Sports Hoops Showcase, December 20-22 in Eugene, with games against North Carolina Central, Prairie View A&M and Stephen F. Austin doing absolutely nothing to help their at-large chances.
- Oregon State – Jared Cunningham led the Beavers to the final of the Legends Classic in East Rutherford, New Jersey with a big 37-point performance in an overtime semifinal win over Texas, after previously having knocked off West Alabama and Hofstra in Corvallis. However, OSU couldn’t seal the deal on Monday night and came up a couple of points short in the championship, losing to Vanderbilt 64-62.
- Stanford – The Cardinal advanced to Madison Square Garden and the championship bracket of the NIT Season Tip-Off with home wins over Fresno State and Colorado State. They’ll kick off their NYC experience with a tough matchup with Oklahoma State on Wednesday night before facing either Syracuse or Virginia Tech on Friday. All of these matchups will be good tests for a Cardinal team that has looked impressive against less-than-stellar competition.
- UCLA – The Maui Invitational’s host team and designated underdog Chaminade gave the Bruins 20 minutes worth of a scare Monday night before UCLA was able to put them away in the second half, but now the hard part begins for UCLA. A semifinal matchup with Kansas comes tonight, then either Duke or Michigan on Wednesday. For a team that has struggled as mightily as the Bruins have, it is awful hard to see another win in paradise.
- USC – The Trojans dropped their opening game of the Las Vegas Invitational in ugly fashion, losing 42-36 to Cal Poly on Saturday night. Luckily for USC, the LVI is not a real tournament, in that those opening round games don’t really have an effect on who advances to the semifinals in Vegas this weekend. So, after playing Morgan State tonight at the Galen Center, the Trojans will face UNLV in the Orleans Arena Friday night before matching up with either North Carolina or South Carolina on Satuday.
- Utah – The first ever Battle 4 Atlantis kicks off on Thanksgiving day in the Bahamas, and the Utes will be among the first field in the tournament which promises $2 million to participating teams. That cold hard cash will certainly make the possibility of an 0-3 weekend for Larry Krystkowiak’s team go down a little easier. The Utes open with Harvard on Thanksgiving, then face either Massachusetts or Florida State on Friday, with Connecticut, UNC Asheville, Central Florida and College of Charleston on the other side of the bracket.
- Washington – The extent of the Huskies’ early season tournament play took place on the opening weekend of the year, when they hosted the BTI Tournament and swept through Georgia State, Florida Atlantic and Portland. Snoozefest.
- Washington State – The Cougars are off to Anaheim this weekend for a spot in the 76 Classic. They open with Oklahoma on Thanksgiving night, then face either New Mexico or Santa Clara on Friday. Possible Sunday opponents include Boston College, Villanova, UC Riverside or Saint Louis.