Analyzing the Big 12 Early Season Tournaments: Iowa State & Oklahoma State Edition

Posted by Nate Kotisso on October 10th, 2012

We’re just two days away from the official opening to the 2012-13 college basketball season as schools will be able to start officially practicing Friday night. Before then, though, we’re going to take a look at the various pre-conference tournaments that have become synonymous with the first month of college basketball. Nearly every Big 12 school is competing in one of those tournaments this season and we’ll take time each day this week to preview each bracket, from Hawaii to Puerto Rico to New York City. On Tuesday, we took a look at Texas and Kansas. On Wednesday, Kansas State and the NIT Preseason Tip-Off were previewed.  Today, we’ll analyze how Iowa State and Oklahoma State will stack up in their preseason tournaments. 

Puerto Rico Tip-Off

Dates: November 15, 16 and 18

Location: Coliseo Ruben Rodriquez in Bayamon, PR

Teams: Akron, Massachusetts, UNC Asheville, NC State, Oklahoma State, Penn State, Providence and Tennessee

A sports photographer’s dream (Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman)

If you look at these teams by name alone, you’d think this was a pillowy type of tournament. But look harder and you’ll see a preseason top 10 team, a #16 seed who nearly upset a #1 in last year’s NCAA Tournament, three teams that played in last year’s NIT, and a team with two five-star recruits (maybe) in the starting lineup. Not bad, eh?

The Akron Zips not only have an awesome nickname but return four of its five leading scorers from a team that barely lost to Sweet Sixteen-bound Ohio in the MAC Tournament championship. UMass head coach Derek Kellogg made it to NIT Semifinals in New York last year and his 5’9″ point guard Chaz Williams was voted to the all-conference first team. If that doesn’t say something about how good they are in a deeper A-10, I don’t know what will.

UNC Asheville lost its leading scorer Matt Dickey but is still predicted to contend in the Big South. This offseason, NC State tied the unofficial world record with UCLA for longest amount of time to wait for a recruit’s NCAA clearance. The Wolfpack may be arguably the best team on Tobacco Road this year and are the favorites to win this tournament. I’m still waiting for Travis Ford to makes his mark on the Oklahoma State program without Sean Sutton’s fingerprints; getting top flight prospects is a good start but if that doesn’t improve his win-loss record, this winter will be a warm one for Ford. Penn State senior Tim Frazier was invited to the LeBron James Skill Academy this summer and that is just about the only thing good about Nittany Lion hoops right now. Ed Cooley’s in a similar situation at Providence. Tennessee started last season like garbage and then Jarnell Stokes happened. They aren’t an easy W for anyone anymore.

The Cowboys could win their first game versus Akron but going beyond that seems unlikely. I think this is a tournament where we could see the mid-majors go crazy. I see the four semifinalists being Akron, Massachusetts, NC State and Tennessee with a NC State vs. Tennessee  tournament final.

Players to Watch:

  • Jarnell Stokes, power forward, Tennessee
  • Rodney Purvis, guard, NC State
  • Le’Bryan Nash, small forward, Oklahoma State
  • Chaz Williams, point guard, Massachusetts

Championship Prediction: NC State 69, Tennessee 61

Global Sports Classic 

Dates: November 10-20 and 23-24

Location: Campus sites and the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, NV

Teams: Cincinnati, UNLV, Iowa State, Oregon, North Carolina A&T, Northern Arizona, Campbell, Jacksonville State

These eyes (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

No you are not stuck in the 1990s but Cincinnati basketball is good again. They have three starters from their Sweet Sixteen team coming back in Cashmere Wright, Dion Dixon and leading scorer Sean Kilpatrick, but they may not even the favorite to win the Global Sports Classic. Why? Because the Runnin’ Rebels of UNLV seem to have a ridiculous, almost unfair, amount of talent on their roster. Plus the thing’s in Vegas, so yeah. Iowa State made its triumphant return to college basketball relevance last season and while he’s known for raking in the transfers, Fred Hoiberg has a nice freshmen class coming in. Admittedly, it’s hard to gauge where Oregon is as a program under third-year coach Dana Altman. Sure they finished third in a weak Pac-12 last season, but they also lost a lot from that team.

The UNLV-Oregon is an easy pick to make but Iowa State-Cincinnati will be more or less evenly matched basketball game with a slight edge to the Bearcats.

Players to Watch: 

  • Will Clyburn, guard, Iowa State
  • Sean Kilpatrick, guard, Cincinnati
  • E.J. Singler, guard, Oregon
  • Khem Birch, center, UNLV

Championship Prediction: UNLV 84, Cincinnati 72

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