Analyzing the Big 12 Early Season Tournaments: Oklahoma & West Virginia EditionPosted by Nate Kotisso on October 12th, 2012
Today is 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. Monday, we took a look at Texas and Kansas. On Tuesday, Kansas State and the NIT Preseason Tip-Off were previewed. On Wednesday, we analyzed how Iowa State and Oklahoma State will stack up in their preseason tournaments. Today, Oklahoma and West Virginia take the stage as we break down the Old Spice Classic.
Old Spice Classic
Date: November 22, 23 and 25
Location: The ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida
Teams: Clemson, Davidson, Gonzaga, Marist, Oklahoma, UTEP, Vanderbilt and West Virginia
This may be my favorite preseason tournament this year. Sure, this isn’t the Champions Classic or the Battle 4 Atlantis but I love it because of all the symmetry among some of these schools. Thanks to conference realignment, Oklahoma and West Virginia find themselves in the same field but ESPN cleverly placed them on opposite sides of the bracket, so there’d be a small chance for a Big 12 game in November (I’d love to see that come to life). Also, the Mountaineers have a unrelated non-conference game with Gonzaga to kick off the college hoops marathon in November, which then will be a rematch of a second-round game in the 2012 NCAA Tournament, which then could also be a possible Old Spice championship game matchup. SYMMETRY!
Last year was an awful one for Clemson, considering they went from a Tournament team in 2010-11 to 16-15 overall. And they have to play Gonzaga? It’s not happening, Tigers. As for Gonzaga, they’re getting more pub this season than any other. They’ve had the pieces to make deep runs in the Tournament some years but haven’t been to the Elite Eight since the 1999 team that gave eventual champion UConn a scare.
The ‘Eers have a brand new team — no Kevin Jones, Truck Bryant or Deniz Kilicli’s beard, but it won’t be a down year. Kilicli, the person, is still around and LaSalle transfer Aaric Murray will make a solid frontcourt better. They’ll play Marist, who icked their way to a 14-18 season. UTEP is coming off a bad year themselves but coach Tim Floyd has brought together an underrated recruiting class. They’re running into a much improved Sooners bunch who I believe will make the NCAA Tournament. Assuming OU wins this game, this will be the fifth Big 12 team Gonzaga will face on their non-conference schedule. Vanderbilt had a starting lineup that may have been the oldest in college basketball last season. Three draft picks and a slew of graduations later, 11 of 13 players on the 2012-13 roster are either freshmen or sophomores. The Commodores will face a Davidson team who ironically return five scorers of ten points or more.
I’m anticipating West Virginia-Davidson and Oklahoma-Gonzaga to make it to the semifinals. My heart wants an all Big 12 final but Davidson’s experience and Gonzaga’s balance will be enough for what should be a high scoring championship game.
Players to Watch
* De’Mon Brooks, forward, Davidson
* Aaric Murray, center, West Virginia
* Kevin Pangos, guard, Gonzaga
* Sam Grooms, guard, Oklahoma
Championship Prediction: Gonzaga 86, Davidson 81