Looking at the Big 12 Non-Conference Tourney SlatePosted by Taylor Erickson on October 24th, 2013
As the 2013-14 season of college basketball rapidly approaches, along with it comes a plethora of non-conference tournaments in exotic locations all over the map. From Maui to New York, Anchorage to Puerto Rico, and everywhere in-between, the slate of early season match-ups provide an outstanding opportunity to usher in the new year in college basketball. Big 12 schools will be in on the act, supplying us with our first real glimpse of what we can expect throughout the season. Let’s take a look at these non-conference contests.
Baylor – Maui Invitational, Maui, Hawaii, November 25-27: Baylor will head to Maui for what is usually one of the higher profile and entertaining tournaments in the non-conference portion of college basketball. Scott Drew‘s team will square off with tournament host Chaminade on November 25 as the Bears will try to avoid being the second team from Texas in as many years to fall to the Silverswords (Chaminade knocked off Texas in 2012 by a score of 86-73). Provided Baylor can handle Chaminade, a match-up with a beatable Gonzaga team likely awaits with a showdown against preseason top 10 Syracuse looming. The battle of zone defenses between ‘Cuse and the Bears would be entertaining, as would Isaiah Austin showing off his range against any holes in Jim Boeheim’s defense.
Kansas State – Puerto Rico Tip-Off, Bayamon Puerto Rico, November 21, 22, 24: The Wildcats wet their feet in Puerto Rico against a deep tournament field with the likes of Michigan, Georgetown, Florida State, and VCU, to name a few. A quarterfinal match-up against Charlotte on November 21 sits ahead for Bruce Weber’s squad, and a win sets up a potential showdown with Georgetown. While Kansas State enters this season with slightly watered-down expectations after losing Rodney McGruder and Angel Rodriguez from a year ago, a win against the Hoyas could provide the ‘Cats up with a chance to make some noise against Michigan in the finals. Thomas Gipson and Mitch McGary battling down low will certainly not lack for physicality. Not only would a good showing in Puerto Rico boost K-State’s outlook on the season, but could help enhance the pipeline of Puerto Rican talent to Manhattan that Frank Martin developed during his time with the Wildcats.
Oklahoma – Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, Brooklyn, New York, November 22-23: Oklahoma kicks off the semifinal round of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic against Seton Hall at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on November 22. As we mentioned last week in our Big 12 preseason rankings breakdown, Oklahoma enters the 2013-14 season without 68.7 percent of their scoring from last season with the departure of standouts Romero Osby and Steven Pledger, among others. If Lon Kruger’s group can get by Seton Hall in the semifinal round, a match-up with heavyweight and consensus top five Michigan State awaits in the championship round. The combination of Gary Harris and Adreian Payne will be as good of an inside-out duo as Oklahoma will see for the remainder of the season.
Texas – CBE Hall of Fame Classic, Kansas City, Missouri, November 25-26: While nearly every other team in the Big 12 will be headed to a tropical or high-profile location for their respective non-conference tournament, Texas will make its way north to Kansas City for the CBE Classic. Although the November weather in KC will be far from exotic, Rick Barnes might be able to convince his team they’ll instead be visiting a barbeque paradise. The Longhorns will square off with BYU in the semifinal game of the CBE in hopes of exacting revenge after the Cougars ran roughshod over Mack Brown and the Texas football program earlier this year. As discussed earlier this week, a win against BYU would more than likely propel Texas to a match-up in the finals against Wichita State in what should be a very pro-Shocker crowd in Kansas City. Wichita State is a program with momentum coming off last year’s trip to the Final Four and would certainly be favored over the Longhorns. An upset win over Gregg Marshall’s squad might help cool the seat early in the season for the Texas head coach.
Texas Tech – Legends Classic, Brooklyn, New York, November 25-26: At one point in time, Tubby Smith may have been worthy of an appearance on the Mount Rushmore of college basketball coaches. After being fired from Minnesota last season, Smith landed in Lubbock and will take his team to Brooklyn for the Legends Classic to start this year. Texas Tech will take on Pittsburgh in a semifinal meeting with an encore performance the following evening against either Stanford or Houston. A surprising win against Pittsburgh would certainly help instill confidence in the Red Raider fan base that Smith can turn this team in the right direction. While Tubby Smith has proven his ability as a coach, the talent level in Lubbock will limit just how big of an impact his coaching influence can have this season. With Smith at 63 years of age, many question whether Texas Tech should have gone younger with their head coaching hire. Is there a bigger age gap between Smith and football coach Kliff Kingsbury (age 34) anywhere else in major college athletics?
West Virginia – Cancun Challenge, Cancun, Mexico, November 26-27: Bob Huggins’ team will head to Cancun in late November as the Mountaineers attempt to bury the disappointing 2012-13 season. West Virginia will battle Old Dominion on November 26 followed by a potential match-up against Bo Ryan’s preseason top 25 Wisconsin team in the finals. If we’ve come to know anything about these two coaches, we could certainly expect to see plenty of defense and physicality. One thing that is certain is we can anticipate that Huggins’ letter sweater he sported at Big 12 media days will not make the trip south.
TCU – Great Alaska Shootout, Anchorage, Alaska, November 27-30: The Horned Frogs will head north to Alaska for this year’s edition of the Great Alaska Shootout and will face off with host school Alaska-Anchorage, on November 27. Any TCU alumni on the east coast will burn the night oil as this game tips at 2:00 AM ET. While this tournament doesn’t feature a bevy of high profile programs, it does provide Trent Johnson’s squad with a chance to compete with lower-tiered schools with whom they could grab several wins against. With the explosion of warm weather non-conference tournaments over the past several years, we quickly forget just how high profile this tournament once was, attracting teams like Duke, Kansas, and Syracuse as recently as 2003. This should come as no surprise, though, as the idea of Mexico or the Bahamas in November surely sells better than Anchorage to prospective recruits.
Kansas – Battle 4 Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas, November 28-30: Bill Self and company will head to the Bahamas over the Thanksgiving holiday with a quarterfinal contest against Wake Forest looming on November 28. If the Jayhawks prevail against a lesser Demon Deacans squad, a match-up against Tennessee is likely in the semifinals before potentially squaring off against Villanova or Andy Enfield’s Southern California version of dunk city in USC in the championship round. Something tells us Jay Wright will still be well dressed even if he leaves the suit in Philadelphia. Kansas’ showdown in the Champions Classic on November 12 against Duke will certainly be one of the most anticipated events of the non-conference slate. Kansas and Duke will follow a Michigan State – Kentucky match-up earlier in the evening in a pair of games that feature four of the top six teams in college basketball, not to mention as many as nine lottery picks in next June’s NBA Draft. While these young teams will only bear a slight resemblance to how they’ll look come March, the talent on display at the United Center will be clearly evident.
Oklahoma State – Old Spice Classic, Lake Buena Vista, Florida, November 28, 29, December 1: Travis Ford and Marcus Smart will lead Oklahoma State to the land of Disney for the Old Spice Classic in late November. The Cowboys will see Purdue in the quarterfinals of the event and could meet a Brad Stevens-less Butler in the semifinals. A potential final round re-match against Memphis (the duo will square off just 12 days prior) would feature two of the top 15 teams in college basketball, and perhaps two of the better backcourts in the country. The possible Travis Ford – Josh Pastner chess match would be intriguing as these two coaches enter the 2013-14 season with perhaps two of their most talented teams since arriving at their current position.
Iowa State – Diamond Head Classic, Honolulu, Hawaii, December 22-25: Fred Hoiberg’s team will celebrate the Christmas holiday in Honolulu as part of the Diamond Head Classic. Iowa State opens with a tilt against George Mason before moving on to a game against Oregon State or Akron in the semifinals. This tournament’s field leaves a little to be desired as far as marquee games for the Cyclones and it would not be surprising to see Iowa State in finals with a potential match-up against Boise State. While the weather outside in December in Hawaii will certainly be warm, in standard Fred Hoiberg fashion Iowa State shouldn’t have a problem heating up inside with their three-point heavy system.