ACC M5: Early Season Tournaments, Part II Edition

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on November 24th, 2014

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Note: To gauge relative team strength, we are using current Kenpom ratings.

  1. EA Sports Maui Invitational: It’s the beginning of what ESPN has traditionally called Feast Week, and a big part of that annual tradition is the EA Sports Maui Invitational which starts today. Each year, one of the schools visiting Hawaii opens with host Chaminade, and this time it’s Pittsburgh (#43) in Game 3 (9pm ET – ESPNU). A look at the bracket shows that should the Panthers advance tonight as expected, they will be guaranteed two games against good competition. On Tuesday, they will face either San Diego State (#23) or BYU (#49), and a trip to the finals (Wed – 10pm ET – ESPN) would probably mean a meeting with favorite Arizona (#5). These games are of great importance to Pittsburgh, who plays another relatively weak non-conference slate otherwise. The only other game outside the ACC against a top 50 opponent is at Indiana in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. Last season, it was the lack of quality wins that put the Panthers on the NCAA bubble until their ACC tournament win over North Carolina, so picking up at least one in Maui this week would be very helpful for Jaime Dixon‘s squad.
  2. Cancun Challenge: After a glance at the bracket, the field playing in Riviera Maya, Mexico is very weak compared to the other events this week. As luck would have it, Virginia Tech (#176) is the third highest rated team but they face the favorite, Northern Iowa (#64) in the Tuesday’s opening round (7pm ET – CBS Sports Network). Northwestern (#100) is the only other school in the field ranked in the top-245, so if the Hokies lose their first game they will likely have two games that won’t do much for Virginia Tech’s (or the ACC’s) RPI.
  3. Battle 4 Atlantis: In a few short years, this event has established itself as one of the best early season tournaments, annually loaded with elite programs. This year is no exception with six top-30 schools in the bracket. North Carolina (#15) takes on Butler (#53) in the opening game (Wed – Noon ET – ESPN2) and will face either UCLA (#18) or Oklahoma (#28) after that. If they get to the finals (Fri – 4:30 ET – ESPN), the Tar Heels could have the heavyweight matchup of the entire week, if Wisconsin (#4) makes it there as well. That would arguably give North Carolina the ACC’s “Best Non-conference Schedule” award by a mile. In December, the Tar Heels face Iowa at home (Dec. 3), take a trip to Lexington to take on top-ranked Kentucky (Dec. 13), and then have a neutral site game with Ohio State (Dec. 20).
  4. Orlando Classic: This one doesn’t start until Thanksgiving Day with Georgia Tech (#90) playing Marquette (#113) in the final game of the day (8:30 ET – ESPN2). A win in that one would probably send the Yellow Jackets to a Friday meeting with Michigan State (#13). Along with Kansas (#10), the Spartans are clear co-favorites in this event, with each of those teams trying to rebound from big losses in last week’s Champions Classic. A look at the bracket reveals a moderate field other than those two traditional programs. Of course, Marquette is an interesting opponent for Georgia Tech, now that long time Duke assistant Steve Wojciechowski is at the helm of the Golden Eagles. But to beat his old ACC rival, Wojo will need to coax a better performance out of his team than he got this past Saturday, losing at home to Omaha by eight points.
  5. Barclays Center Classic: Virginia (#6) will close out the ACC’s early season tournament participation with a trip to Brooklyn for the Barclays Center Classic. On Friday, the Cavaliers meet LaSalle (#99) in the second game of the night (9:30 ET – NBC Sports Network), with (#94) Vanderbilt playing Rutgers (#124) in the opening semifinal game. The winners will meet Saturday for the championship (9:30 ET – NBC Sports Network) with the Cavaliers being heavy favorites to bring home the title, one week after Duke won the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic on the same court. The Barclays Center has established itself as a busy destination spot for November college basketball tournaments. In between the two aforementioned weekend events, the Brooklyn arena will host a stacked Progressive Legends Classic, beginning tonight with semifinal match-ups (Villanova vs. VCU, and Michigan vs. Oregon).
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ACC M5: Early Season Tournaments Part I Edition

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on November 21st, 2014

morning5_ACC Note: To gauge relative team strength, we are using current Kenpom ratings.

  1. Charleston Classic: Fresh off Monday’s big upset over Florida, Jim Larrañaga‘s squad is looking to make some more noise in the Gildan Charleston Classic. On Thursday afternoon, Miami (#40) topped Drexel (#161), 66-46, with its defense, holding the Dragons to 31.4 percent shooting from the field. Next up for the Hurricanes will be this afternoon’s semifinal game (2:30 ET – ESPN2) with Akron (#181), a team that beat USC (#169) yesterday in a mild surprise. It looks like Miami’s only chance for a quality win here would be in Sunday night’s championship game (9:00 ET – ESPN2) against a team from the more competitive side of the bracket. The tourney’s pseudo-host, South Carolina (#81), will meet Charlotte (#87) in today’s other semifinal, so either way Miami will face its toughest opponent in the event on Sunday, with another pretty good opportunity for a resume-building win.
  2. Puerto Rico Tip-Off: Boston College (#147) rebounded from its first loss of the year with a somewhat surprising opening round win on Thursday over New Mexico (#55), 69-65, in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. Olivier Hanlan came up big down the stretch with 10 points in the last 7:03 to clinch the win. A look at the bracket shows a tough road ahead for the Eagles with today’s semifinal matchup (5:00 ET – ESPN2) against West Virginia (#47) followed by a game with either Dayton (#50) or defending national champion Connecticut (#18). If Boston College wins one or two more games here, it will be good news for the ACC. Last year, after a terrible non-conference performance, the Eagles became a drag on the entire ACC’s RPI, but this year they may actually be helpful in that regard.
  3. 2K Sports Classic: California (#63) shocked Syracuse (#12) by a score of 73-59 on Thursday night in Madison Square Garden to advance to tonight’s championship game of the 2K Sports Classic, where they will take on Texas (#15). Syracuse, who will face Iowa (#24) in the consolation game (5:00 ET – ESPN2) trailed by 12 at the half and never threatened the Bears the rest of the way. California got a measure of revenge, though, as the Orange beat the Bears in last year’s Maui Invitational on the way to that event’s championship. Jim Boeheim’s Orange saw their hot streak in these type of early tournaments come to a halt, after winning five such events in a row over a six-year period. The last time Syracuse came up short was back in the 2007 NIT Tipoff, also held at the same New York venue, where they settled for third place.
  4. Paradise Jam: This afternoon, Clemson (#91) will kick off the Paradise Jam in the U.S. Virgin Islands with a matchup (1:30 ET) against Gardner-Webb (#191). Here’s a look at the bracket for this event, and it’s clearly not full of top-notch programs compared to many of the other early tournaments. Still, if Clemson were to win this tournament — the championship game is Monday night (9:00 – CBS Sports Network) — beating Seton Hall (#75) and LSU (#77) along the way, it would be a slight boost to the Tigers’ resume and the ACC’s conference RPI. Of course, the opposite is true as well. With a bad home loss to Winthrop (#188) already on its ledger, Clemson can ill afford to drop another game to an opponent outside of the top 100.
  5. Coaches vs. Cancer Classic: Coming off its Champions Classic victory over Michigan State on Tuesday, Duke (#2) is in Brooklyn tonight (9:30 ET – TruTv) to take on Temple (#109) in the semifinals of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. Former Blue Devils player and assistant coach Johnny Dawkins leads Stanford (#52) against UNLV (#98) in the other semifinal game. As a player, Dawkins is widely regarded as the most important recruit in Mike Krzyzewski’s illustrious career in Durham, and later he spent 11 years as an assistant coach at his alma mater. If the two meet on Saturday night (Finals: 9:30 ET – TruTv), it would be the first time Dawkins would get to match coaching wits with his mentor. Now in his seventh year at Stanford, Dawkins needs another solid season to stay off the hot seat. He finally got his team to the NCAA Tournament last March, when the Cardinal upset Kansas before losing to Dayton in the Sweet Sixteen.
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Reviewing the Performance of ACC Teams in Feast Week: Part II

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on December 3rd, 2013

Today we will review the final six early season tournaments involving ACC teams. To see the recap we did covering the first seven such events, click here. The ACC completed a successful Feast Week with two more championships giving the conference a total of five titles in 13 tournaments. This performance should give the ACC some momentum going into this week’s ACC/Big Ten Challenge. With another good week, perhaps the conference will overcome the negative impact from some of those bad early non-conference losses.

Syracuse Wins EA Maui Invitational for the Third Time. (Photo: mauiinvitational.com)

Syracuse Wins the EA Maui Invitational for the Third Time.
(Photo: mauiinvitational.com)

Syracuse became the second ACC newcomer to win an early-season tournament by beating #18 Baylor 74-67 in the finals of the EA Sports Maui Invitational on Wednesday night. That followed wins over Minnesota, 75-67, and California, 92-81. Senior C.J. Fair was named the tournament MVP while averaging 18 points for the three games and tallying 24 in the finals. Also impressive was freshman point guard Tyler Ennis, who scored 28 in the semifinals over Cal, and had an outstanding 18 to two assist-to-turnover ratio for the tournament. With the Orange’s third Maui championship along with Pittsburgh’s title in the Progressive Legends Classic, the new ACC schools are serving notice that they are ready to compete at the top of their new conference.

Duke did not fare as well in the other marquee Feast Week event, the NIT Season Tip-Off in New York’s Madison Square Garden. After beating Alabama 74-64 in Wednesday’s semifinals, the Blue Devils fell to #4 Arizona, 72-66, in Friday’s championship game. Coming into the week Duke’s defense had been struggling mightily and was the focus for improvement by Mike Kzyzewski. The Devils did look much better on that end of the court against good competition, but another glaring issue has not been resolved. Duke is still searching for production from its primary big man position – Josh Hairston and Amile Jefferson combined for only two points in a total of 69 minutes over the two games.

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Reviewing the Performance of ACC Teams in Feast Week: Part I

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on November 27th, 2013

After a lackluster start in non-conference play, the ACC has somewhat rebounded with some impressive showings in the early season tournaments so far. In the seven events that have already completed, the ACC has a record of 12-5 (not counting designated home games related to the events, only the neutral court games). That record includes three championships, one runner-up, and two third place finishes. That’s a big improvement over recent years, considering that ACC schools have only won five such titles in the previous three seasons combined.

Marcus Paige leads North Carolina to Hall of Fame Tip-off Title (Photo: Getty Images)

Marcus Paige leads North Carolina to Hall of Fame Tip-off Title
(Photo: Getty Images)

Leading the way was North Carolina, which bounced back from a home loss to Belmont the weekend before to stun #3 Louisville 93-84 in the championship game of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off in Connecticut on Sunday. That followed a 82-72 Tar Heels win over Richmond the day before. Marcus Paige was sensational in his new role as North Carolina’s primary perimeter scorer, scoring 58 points in the two contests. He displayed a tremendous shooting touch going 9-of-14 on three-point attempts and 19-of-20 from the free throw line over the weekend.

Similarly, Maryland rebounded from a bad home loss last Sunday to Oregon State, winning the Paradise Jam Tournament title. The Terrapins got to the title game with wins over Marist, 68-43, and Northern Iowa, 80-66. They then beat Providence, 56-52, in Monday’s championship game. Dez Wells was selected as the tournament MVP while averaging 15 points and five rebounds over the three games. He was supported by transfer player Evan Smotrycz who scored 20 points against Northern Iowa and had a double-double (13/11) in the finals.

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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.

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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.

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Examining ACC Teams in Early Season Tournaments: Part I

Posted by Brad Jenkins on October 25th, 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 I, which includes an overview and a look at the 2KSports Classic, the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic and the Charleston Classic.

In these early season tournament previews we will present them in order of when the championship games will be played. To make it easier to find each team’s event we will include a table with all the teams in alphabetical order, with bold print to indicate the schools featured in that part of the series. All of these events are not constructed alike but there are two main types. The first type is the traditional eight-team tournament in which all teams play three games through winners’ and losers’ brackets. The second type is the newer popular model, usually with four well-known teams predetermined to play a semifinal and championship round at a neutral site after hosting two lower rated teams at home. The Preseason NIT is the lone tournament to stick with a traditional format with 16 teams competing in a winners’ bracket. Each preview will look at potential match-ups with links to the brackets, and a brief outlook on the ACC team’s chances. Note that N.C. State and Notre Dame will not be included in the analysis as they are playing in exempt events with all the match-ups predetermined.

School

Tournament

Location (Finals)

Dates

 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
 Maryland  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
 Pittsburgh  Progressive Legends Classic  Brooklyn, NY  Nov  17,20,25-26
 Syracuse  EA Sports 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

 

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Boston College2K Sports Classic

Date                     Time(ET) TV                         Location                  Opponent                Conf                  2012-13 W-L

Th-Nov 14               7:00 PM   ESPN3                      HOME                    Toledo                     MAC                        15-13
Su-Nov 17               8:00 PM   ESPNU                     HOME                    Florida Atlantic      ConfUSA                  14-18
Th-Nov 21               7:00 PM   ESPN2                     New York               Connecticut             AAC                         20-10
Fr-Nov 22                  TBD         ESPN 2/U               New York                Indiana                    Big Ten                    29-7
                                                                                                                or Washington            Pac 12                     18-16

And The Winner Is: Connecticut – With one of the finest backcourts in the nation and the motivation of being NCAA Tournament-eligible, look for the Huskies to come out on top in New York in a couple of close games.

Possible Surprise Team: Boston College – With all key players returning from last year, the Eagles will probably be ahead of rebuilding Indiana or Washington at this early stage of the season. They even have a decent shot at taking down UConn. Sophomore guards Olivier Hanlan and Joe Rahon won’t be easily overmatched, and Connecticut lacks an established inside scorer to punish the smallish frontcourt Boston College frequently uses.

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Breaking Down the Pac-12 Preseason Exempt Events: Part One

Posted by AMurawa on October 18th, 2012

Your average casual college basketball fan knows plenty about March Madness, the whole Final Four and Sweet Sixteen and whatnot. Peel that onion a little bit and the number of people that get really into the conference tournaments is a bit smaller. But it is the true college basketball junkies who get all excited by phrases like “Maui Invitational,” “Preseason NIT,” and, this year, “Battle 4 Atlantis.” We here at RTC know who our readers are, so get ready as we begin to dig through the early season college basketball tournaments and exempt events that will help keep us entertained while the rest of the sporting world is paying attention to silly stuff like college football and the NFL. Today we’ll take a look at where four of the conference’s schools will be playing their exempt events, with additional posts to come in the future on the rest of the teams.

Oregon State – 2K Sports Classic, November 15-16, Madison Square Garden, New York, NY

The Beavers kick off their season with a pair of “regional round” games at Gill Coliseum against Niagara (on November 9, the opening night of the season) and New Mexico State (November 11), a pair of games which, though they’ll count in OSU’s record, don’t have a lick of impact on which teams advance to NYC. Still, NMSU is a team coming off an NCAA appearance (despite losing three seniors from that team), while Niagara is a young team that played its best basketball at the end of last year; both games promise to give the Beavs a good workout. OSU will kick off its engagement at MSG with the matinee performance against a young and athletic Alabama team that was among the best defensive teams in the nation last year. However, Bama has to replace forwards Tony Mitchell and JaMychal Green, with freshmen Jimmie Taylor and Shannon Hale potentially getting the first crack. If OSU can get past a tough Crimson Tide defense (that’s a familiar phrase), they’ll advance to the championship game to face either Villanova or Purdue, two more teams in the midst of program transition. The Boilermakers are replacing Robbie Hummel and Lewis Jackson this season, while Villanova lost its backcourt duo of Maalik Wayns and Dominic Cheek to early departures (both went, predictably, unpicked in this year’s NBA Draft). Still, each team returns plenty of talent, and Purdue introduces four four-star freshmen, while the Wildcats break in a pair of four-star guys of their own. All told, regardless of how the semifinal round shakes out, OSU will get two winnable matchups against good, solid power conference teams. If they come away with two wins, they should be ecstatic, while a pair of early losses would put a damper on their plans, but not leave them completely dead. Still, post-New York, the only RPI boosting game on the Beavs’ non-conference schedule is a tough trip to Kansas City to face Kansas on an anything-but-neutral court.

Eric Moreland, Oregon State

Eric Moreland And The OSU Bigs Will Be Challenged By Alabama’s Young Front Line (AP Photo)

Oregon – Global Sports Classic, November 23-24, Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas, NV

Las Vegas continues to position itself as a college hoops destination with the newest generically-named early season tourney in Sin City. Like the 2K Sports Classic, it purports itself to be an eight-team tournament, but really, four teams are already ticketed to the semifinals regardless of the outcomes of the earlier games. And those four teams present a challenging field, as the Ducks are joined by Cincinnati, Iowa State and hometown favorite UNLV. Dana Altman’s squad will officially start play in this event on November 10 when they host Northern Arizona and they’ll wrap up the preliminaries with Jacksonville State on November 19, two games that should be relative breathers for UO. But once they get to Vegas, things get real serious real fast, with the Runnin’ Rebels their semifinal opponent. The Ducks dodge a bit of a bullet in that they get the Rebs prior to Khem Birch becoming eligible, but regardless, Mike Moser, Anthony Bennett and company will provide a stiff challenge for Oregon’s newcoming frontcourt players like Ben Carter and Waverly Austin. Depending on the outcome of the outcome of the semifinal, either the Cyclones or the Bearcats will still provide a good bit of competition in the Ducks’ second game of the weekend, with Cincy in particular expected to field a very talented backcourt. If it is ISU, however, the Ducks will get a first look at Fred Hoiberg’s newest class of transfers, including former Michigan State point guard Korie Lucious and former Utah double-double machine Will Clyburn. Again, like the Beavers before them, if UO gets out of this weekend 2-0, they should be very pleased with themselves.

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