Examining ACC Teams in Early Season Tournaments: Part III

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on October 31st, 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 III, which includes a look at the NIT Season Tip-Off, the Battle 4 Atlantis, the Barclays Center Classic, the Corpus Christi Challenge and the Wooden Legacy. Here are links to the earlier two parts in the series – Part I and Part II.

In this final look at ACC teams in early season tournaments let’s examine just how important these events may be to the conference this year. The topic of “Greatest Conference Ever” has been a popular discussion point for the rebuilt ACC. There are many popular measures used to compare conferences, including National Championships, Final Four appearances, conference RPI, and non-conference winning percentage. But most folks judge conference strength by the number of NCAA Tourney bids that are earned. So is there a correlation between a conference’s performance in early season tournaments and the number of NCAA bids they get?

Duke Celebrates the 2012 Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament Championship  (Photo Credit: cbssports.com)

Duke Celebrates the 2012 Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament Championship (Photo Credit: cbssports.com)

Looking at the last three seasons provides an answer. Over that time, the two heavyweight conferences have been the old Big East and the Big Ten. From 2011 to 2013, the Big East received 28 NCAA bids out of a possible 47 (60%), and the Big Ten is right behind with 20 out of 35 (57%). The ACC has lagged way behind those two conferences with only 13 bids out of 36 (36%). Over those same three seasons, seven different Big Ten schools have combined to win nine early season tournament titles. The Big East has also claimed nine titles with eight different schools. Ironically, only new ACC member Syracuse won more than one of those. Meanwhile the ACC only claims five such titles, and even worse for overall conference strength, Duke has won three of those. By comparison, the Big Ten won five tournament titles last year alone. Furthermore, the record-setting 11 bid Big East in 2010-11 won six early season tournaments, which clearly established it as the dominant conference of that season well before conference play even started. If the ACC wants to get to that level again soon, they need to start by winning four or five of these events for a change.



Location (Finals)


 Boston College  2K Sports Classic  New York, NY  Nov  14,17,21-22
 Clemson  Charleston Classic  Charleston, SC  Nov  21,22,24


 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 Classic

 Brooklyn, NY

 Nov  24,26,29-30

 Maryland  Paradise Jam  U.S. Virgin Islands  Nov  22-25


 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
 Pittsburgh  Legends Classic  Brooklyn, NY  Nov  17,20,25-26
 Syracuse  Maui Invitational  Maui, HI  Nov  25-27


 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


(Note: Since the NIT is a true 16-team Tourney we only list Probable Opponents for the New York Games)

Duke – NIT Season Tip-Off

 Date       Time(ET)   TV          Location          Opponent          Conf       2012-13 W-L
Mo-Nov 18   7:00 PM   ESPNU        HOME              UNC Asheville     Big South     16-16
Tu-Nov 19    TBD      ESPNU        HOME              East Carolina     Conf USA      23-12
                                                  or Norfolk St.       MEAC          21-12
We-Nov 27    TBD      ESPN 2/U     New York          Alabama           SEC           23-12
Fr-Nov 29    TBD      ESPN /2      New York          Arizona           Pac-12        27-8
                                                  or Rutgers           AAC           15-1

And The Winner IsDuke – This one looks like a championship showdown between Duke and Arizona, both consensus preseason top 10 teams. We’ll give the slight edge to the Blue Devils for two reasons. First, there is that well-known theory that games in New York and New Jersey are like “home court” games for Duke. But maybe more important is their recent history in early season tournaments, having won six straight such events.

Possible Surprise Team: Drexel – This pick is more about Rutgers. Of the four teams hosting the regional rounds, Rutgers is clearly the best candidate to be upset before getting to NYC. With the program still reeling from the Mike Rice disaster, any of the three other teams in the regional — Canisius, Elon  or Drexel — could make it to Madison Square Garden. With an excellent group of guards on board, look for Drexel to have the best chance. The Dragons could even throw a scare into Arizona if they get that far.

ACC Outlook: It’s no secret that Duke is the only ACC team to have much recent success in these events and they need to keep that going for the ACC to meet its goal as this year’s top league. Along with the Maui Invitational, the NIT’s preseason tournament in New York has long been one of the marquee events that draws a lot of national attention. With Duke in New York and Syracuse in the Maui, the ACC needs both its predicted top two teams to come through.


Wake Forest Battle 4 Atlantis

 Date       Time(ET)   TV          Location          Opponent          Conf       2012-13 W-L
Th-Nov 28   3:30 PM   AXS          The Bahamas       Kansas            Big 12        31-6
Fr-Nov 29    TBD      AXS/NBCSN    The Bahamas       Southern Cal      Pac-12        14-18
                                                  Or Villanova         Big East      20-14
Sa-Nov 30    TBD      AXS/NBCSN    The Bahamas       Iowa              Big Ten       25-13
                                                  Or Tennessee         SEC           20-13
                                                  Or UTEP              Conf USA      18-14
                                                  Or Xavier            Big East      17-14

And The Winner IsKansas – With freshman phenom Andrew Wiggins and several other touted newcomers, the reloaded Jayhawks expect to be national title contenders again but they may be challenged by some of the more veteran teams in the field.

Possible Surprise Team: Villanova – The Wildcats return seven of their top nine and would not be awed at all by Kansas. Last year Villanova knocked off three teams that were ranked in the top five at the time of the game, including eventual national champion Louisville and another Final Four team in Syracuse.

ACC Outlook: It will be a tall order for Wake Forest to get to the winner’s bracket, with Kansas as the Deacons’ opener. But after that Wake should have winnable games against pretty good teams, which is always good for the overall conference RPI.


Georgia Tech – Barclays Center Classic

 Date       Time(ET)   TV          Location          Opponent          Conf       2012-13 W-L
Su-Nov 24   2:00 PM   ESPN3        HOME              NC A&T            MEAC          20-17
Tu-Nov 26   7:00 PM   ESPN3        HOME              Miss Valley St.   SWAC           5-23
Fr-Nov 29   4:30 PM   TBA          Brooklyn          Mississippi       SEC           27-9
Sa-Nov 30    TBD      TBA          Brooklyn          St. John's        Big East      17-16
                                                  or Penn St.          Big Ten       10-21

And The Winner IsSt. John’s – This event may have the most evenly matched foursome of all the early season tournaments. In Ken Pomeroy’s recently released preseason ratings, all four teams are ranked between #47 and #79. So we’ll go with the Red Storm strictly due to semi-home court advantage.

Possible Surprise Team: Penn State – While it’s true that all of these teams should be fairly evenly matched, only the Nittany Lions had a losing record last year, so it would be more of a surprise if they win this event. Despite the celebrity status of Ole Miss guard Marshall Henderson, Penn State will have the best player in Brooklyn in guard Tim Frazier, as long as he’s recovered fully from last November’s Achilles injury.

ACC Outlook: Georgia Tech has a great chance to establish itself as an NCAA Tournament-caliber team with a championship here in Brooklyn. They will face two pretty good opponents, but with their size up front and transfer Trae Golden running the point, the Jackets should be well-equipped for a good showing.


Virginia – Corpus Christi Challenge

 Date       Time(ET)   TV          Location          Opponent          Conf       2012-13 W-L
Sa-Nov 23   4:00 PM   ESPN3        HOME              Liberty           Big South     15-21
Tu-Nov 26   7:00 PM   ESPN3        HOME              Hampton           MEAC          14-17
Fr-Nov 29   7:30 PM   CBSSports    Corpus Christi    SMU               AAC           15-17
Sa-Nov 30    TBD      CBSSports    Corpus Christi    Missouri St.      MVC           11-22
                                                  or Texas A&M         SEC           18-15

And The Winner IsVirginia – This year’s early season has to go better than last year’s. With key injuries at the point guard spot, Virginia suffered two awful early losses that stained the team’s strength of schedule all the way to an NIT bid. Led by senior Joe Harris, this is a group that should be primed to excel right away.

Possible Surprise Team: SMU – Larry Brown is in his second year and has all five starters back in tow, but has said none may start this year. With seven newcomers including three transfers, the Mustangs have raised the talent level considerably and have a great teacher on board to put it all together.

ACC Outlook: This is almost a must-win for the ACC. Virginia is considered an upper-tier conference team this year and it would not be good for the league if the Cavaliers can’t take care of this field, even in Texas.


Miami – Wooden Legacy

 Date       Time(ET)   TV          Location          Opponent          Conf       2012-13 W-L
Mo-Nov 18   7:30 PM    TBA         AWAY              Charleston        Colonial      24-11
Th-Nov 28   2:00 PM   ESPNU        Anaheim, CA       Ge.Washington     Atl Ten       13-17
Fr-Nov 29    TBD      ESPN /2      Anaheim, CA       Cal St.Fullerton  Big West      14-18
                                                  Or Marquette         Big East      26-9
Su-Dec 1     TBD      ESPN /2      Anaheim, CA       Arizona St.       Pac-12        22-13
                                                  Or Charleston        Colonial      24-11
                                                  Or Creighton         Big East      28-8
                                                  Or San Diego St.     MtnWest       23-11

And The Winner IsCreighton – The championship may come down to an early season meeting of new Big East rivals Creighton and Marquette. Normally these tournaments don’t have two teams from the same conference, but the field was already set before the Big East reformation happened last year. At this point, we’ll give a slight edge to Creighton and All-American Doug McDermott as the Bluejays are the more experienced team.

Possible Surprise Team: Arizona State – The Sun Devils have a couple of things going for them. One is super quick point guard Jahii Carson. The other is a little revenge factor. Last season Creighton beat ASU  87-73 in the finals of the Las Vegas Invitational. Carson had 30 points in the loss but should have more help this year, so the Bluejays could get caught by a motivated Sun Devils team.

ACC Outlook: Miami really needs to beat GW in the opener in Anaheim. That would assure the Hurricanes will get to play two quality teams while on this trip. They probably won’t beat either one, but at least playing them will give the ACC some RPI scheduling power.

Brad Jenkins (368 Posts)

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