Examining ACC Teams in Early Season Tournaments: Part II

Posted by Brad Jenkins on October 28th, 2013

As part of our preseason coverage on the ACC microsite, we will be looking at ACC teams competing in early season tournaments in a three-part series . Today we present Part II, which includes a look at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, the Hall of Fame Tip-Off, the Paradise Jam, the Progressive Legends Classic and the EA Sports Maui Invitational.  To check out Part I of our series, click here.

These early season tournaments mean different things to different teams. For the traditional powers Duke and North Carolina, these events are just another part of the non-conference schedule, and not usually the most important part. With the national profile of those schools, building a quality non-conference slate is not all that difficult. But for others in the ACC, these tournaments are often the most challenging games those teams will face outside of league play. If you’re a potential NCAA Tournament team, a good performance in one of these events can considerably lessen the pressure to need a great league record to make the field.

Virginia's Early Loss to Delaware Last Season Badly Damaged Its RPI

Virginia’s Early Loss to Delaware Last Season Badly Damaged Its RPI

The opposite is also true, as Virginia found out last year. Losing to Delaware at home in the Preseason NIT gave Virginia a bad early loss and cost the Cavaliers a trip to New York, which would have improved their non-conference RPI and was a primary reason an 11-7 ACC team was left out of the field. Beyond just notching quality wins, the additional benefit is the RPI boost received from merely playing these games against other quality opponents. As Ken Pomeroy wrote in a March 2011 article, the RPI may not be a great metric but it is the main way NCAA Selection Committees sort teams. With 75% of a team’s RPI based on opponents’ RPI, poor performances in the non-conference schedule by multiple teams can damage an entire conference’s standing dramatically.



Location (Finals)


 Boston College  2K Sports Classic  New York, NY  Nov  14,17,21-22
 Clemson  Charleston Classic  Charleston, SC  Nov  21,22,24
 Duke  NIT Season Tip-Off  New York, NY  Nov  18-19,27,29

 Florida State

 Puerto Rico Tip-Off

 San Juan, PR

 Nov  21,22,24

 Georgia Tech  Barclays Center Classic  Brooklyn, NY  Nov  24,26,29-30


 Paradise Jam

 U.S. Virgin Islands

 Nov  22-25

 Miami  Wooden Legacy  Orange County, CA  Nov  18,28-29, Dec 1

 North Carolina

 Hall of Fame Tip-Off

 Uncasville, CT

 Nov 15,17,23-24

 North Carolina St. N/A – Global Sports Shootout-All Games Predetermined Matchups
 Notre Dame N/A – Gotham Classic-All Games Predetermined Matchups


 Legends Classic

 Brooklyn, NY

 Nov  17,20,25-26


 Maui Invitational

 Maui, HI

 Nov  25-27

 Virginia  Corpus Christi Challenge  Corpus Christi, TX  Nov  23,26,29-30
 Virginia Tech  Coaches vs. Cancer Classic  Brooklyn, NY  Nov  9,15,22-23
 Wake Forest  Battle 4 Atlantis  Nassau, Bahamas  Nov  28-30


Florida State – Puerto Rico Tip-Off

 Date       Time(ET)   TV          Location          Opponent          Conf       2012-13 W-L
Th-Nov 21   7:30 PM   ESPNU        San Juan          VCU               Atl 10        27-9
Fr-Nov 22    TBD      ESPN 2/3/U   San Juan          Long Beach St.    Big West      19-14
                                                  or Michigan          Big Ten       31-8
Su-Nov 24    TBD      ESPN 2/3/U   San Juan          Charlotte         ConfUSA       21-12
                                                  Or Georgetown        Big East      25-7
                                                  Or Kansas St.        Big 12        27-8
                                                  Or Northeastern      Colonial      20-13

And The Winner IsMichigan – This is almost a toss-up between Michigan and VCU, two teams that should meet in the semifinals. Both lost some talent from last year but return many key players too. Assuming Mitch McGary is over his back issues, the nod goes to the Wolverines based on the way they sliced through VCU’s havoc defense in the NCAAs last year, a 78-53 Michigan win. But the deep Rams should be a much tougher test in a compressed four-day tournament setting and the Wolverines are replacing the best point guard in the nation, Trey Burke.

Possible Surprise Team: Georgetown – If any team from the other half of the bracket can win this tournament it will probably be the Hoyas. They lost their star, Otto Porter, but return almost everyone else of note and have added transfer Josh Smith. Plus, John Thompson III’s recent Georgetown teams have a history of performing well in these early events, winning the 2011 Charleston Classic and losing in overtime to top-ranked Indiana in last season’s Legends Classic finals.

ACC Outlook: Florida State draws VCU in the opener, probably the worst match-up it could have. The Rams’ team strengths — forcing turnovers and hitting the offensive boards — will attack the two most glaring weak areas for the Seminoles, ball-handling and defensive rebounding. After that one, FSU should have two winnable games against decent competition.


North Carolina Hall of Fame Tip-Off

 Date       Time(ET)   TV          Location          Opponent          Conf       2012-13 W-L
Fr-Nov 15   8:00 PM   ESPNU        HOME              Holy Cross        Patriot       12-18
Su-Nov 17   4:00 PM   ESPNU        HOME              Belmont           OVC           26-7
Sa-Nov 23   12:00 PM  ESPN3        Uncasville,CT     Richmond          Atl 10        19-15
Su-Nov 24    TBD      ESPN         Uncasville,CT     Fairfield         MAAC          19-16
                                                  or Louisville        AAC           35-5

And The Winner IsLouisville – The defending national champs will be big favorites, especially if North Carolina is still without P.J. Hairston.

Possible Surprise Team: Richmond – This is another of those default choices. The Spiders return three of their top four scorers from a 19-win team a season ago, so they have a better chance to upset North Carolina than Fairfield does against Louisville.

ACC Outlook: As of this writing we still don’t know how many games Hairston will miss to start the season. If North Carolina meets Louisville in the finals as expected that would be the fifth game of the season for the Heels. Without their leading offensive player, beating the Cardinals, even without Chane Behanan, would seem a stretch. In fact, the Belmont game in Chapel Hill will be a big test if the Tar Heels are still without Hairston. If he is unavailable for the whole event and UNC comes out with only a loss to Louisville, that would still result in a successful tournament.



Maryland – Paradise Jam

 Date       Time(ET)   TV          Location          Opponent          Conf       2012-13 W-L
Fr-Nov 22   7:30 PM   CBSSports    Virgin Islands    Marist            MAAC          10-21
Su-Nov 24    TBD      CBSSports    Virgin Islands    Loy Marymount     WCC           11-23
                                                  Or Northern Iowa     MVC           21-15
Mo-Nov 25    TBD      CBSSports    Virgin Islands    La Salle          Atl 10        24-10
                                                  Or Morgan St.        MEAC          17-15
                                                  Or Providence        Big East      19-15
                                                  Or Vanderbilt        SEC           16-17

And The Winner IsMaryland – This event has no clear-cut favorite but the Terps may be the most balanced team in the field. Also, head coach Mark Turgeon has had past success in early season tournaments, winning two championships while at Texas A&M, the 2007 Preseason NIT and the 2010 Coaches vs. Cancer Classic.

Possible Surprise Team: Providence – The Friars may have the best backcourt in the field, led by senior Bryce Cotton, the reigning Big East scoring leader at 19.7 PPG in 2012-13. La Salle also is expected to contend for a return to the NCAA Tournament with a solid group of perimeter players.

ACC Outlook: As a going-away present to the ACC, Maryland has a good chance to win the Paradise Jam and give the conference some early credibility with regards to the depth of the league. But to do so they probably will have to beat a pretty good Northern Iowa squad, and then use strong frontcourt play to counter the backcourts they would face in either Providence or La Salle.



Pittsburgh Progressive Legends Classic

 Date       Time(ET)   TV          Location          Opponent          Conf       2012-13 W-L
Su-Nov 17   5:00 PM   ESPN3        HOME              Howard            MEAC          7-24
We-Nov 20   7:30 PM   ESPNU        HOME              Lehigh            Patriot       21-10
Mo-Nov 25   7:30 PM   ESPN2        Brooklyn          Texas Tech        Big 12        11-20
Tu-Nov 26    TBD      ESPN U/3     Brooklyn          Houston           AAC           20-13
                                                  or Stanford          Pac-12        19-15

And The Winner IsPittsburgh – Stanford will probably be the popular pick, returning almost all of their players from a 19-win team. But Pittsburgh returns three starters and is used to playing in New York while the Cardinal will be traveling 3,000 miles east. Plus, with a mostly weak non-conference schedule, look for this event to be a primary focus for Jamie Dixon’s team.

Possible Surprise Team: Houston – Coming off a good season in Conference USA and finishing with a 20-13 overall mark, the Cougars step up in competition this year by joining the newly formed American Athletic Conference. A strong and athletic frontcourt will give them a chance to knock off Stanford or Pitt, maybe even both.

ACC Outlook: Pittsburgh really needs a good showing here. As previously mentioned there just aren’t many chances for Pitt to get impressive wins in the non-conference schedule. If Pitt finishes in the middle of the ACC as some predict, then the Panthers almost need to sweep the non-conference games to be assured of making the NCAA Tournament field.



Syracuse – EA Sports Maui Invitational

 Date       Time(ET)   TV          Location          Opponent          Conf       2012-13 W-L
Mo-Nov 18   7:00 PM   ESPN3        HOME              St. Francis, NY   Northeast     12-18
Mo-Nov 25   5:30 PM   ESPNU        Maui, HI          Minnesota         Big Ten       21-13
Tu-Nov 26    TBD      ESPN /2      Maui, HI          Arkansas          SEC           19-13
                                                  Or California        Pac-12        21-12
We-Nov 27    TBD      ESPN /2      Maui, HI          Baylor            Big 12        23-12
                                                  Or Chaminade         (Div II)      19-11
                                                  Or Dayton            Atl 10        17-14
                                                  Or Gonzaga           WCC           32-3

And The Winner IsGonzaga – Syracuse will probably be ranked higher than the Zags, but the Bulldogs return veteran guards who can make shots while the Orange will be replacing their productive backcourt from last year and that may take some time.

Possible Surprise Team: Baylor – While hardly a long shot, there are four other teams in the field that played in the NCAA Tournament last year while Baylor did not. The Bears ended the year on a positive note by winning the NIT. They boast a very talented frontcourt but improvement this year will depend on how well JuCo transfer Kenny Cherry replaces Pierre Jackson at the point.

ACC Outlook: As part of the always loaded Maui field, Syracuse will get an RPI boost just by merely playing there. It’s not likely that the Orange will need that schedule impact as much as others in the ACC, but performing well in this event would solidify the opinion that Syracuse is a Final Four contender again.

Brad Jenkins (325 Posts)

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