I nailed the Big Ten records for the tournaments last week, even if I didn't get the outcome of each individual games or all of the champions correct. Hopefully my success continues on this week.
Battle 4 Atlantis
Imperial Arena November 28-30 AXS TV/NBC Sports Network Bracket
The Hawkeyes were originally slated to play in the Great Alaska Shootout but instead found a bid to play in the Bahamas which will be a huge boost to their non conference schedule strength. In the first round they face Xavier where the key will be stopping sophomore guard Semaj Christon who is the leading the team in scoring. The Musketeers are young but they are deep with ten players averaging more than 13 minutes per game so Iowa's deep bench might not be as much as an advantage as it normally would. I think the Hawkeyes take care of business in a tough game against the Musketeers and move on to face Tennessee in the second round. Jordan McRae is primary issue here as he is averaging 21.5 points per game and also leads the team in assists with three per game. Devyn Marble is going to get a work out in these first two contests as he is the most likely Hawkeye to be guarding the top players on both these teams. I think Iowa gets past the Volunteers and earns a game against Andrew Wiggins and Kansas in the title game. As much as I would love to see my favorite B1G basketball team knock off the basketball powerhouse I grew up 30 miles from, I think KU's depth and overall talent will be too much for Iowa in the final round and the Hawkeyes will settle for a second place finish.
Projected Winner: Kansas
Projected B1G record: 2-1
Lahaina Civic Center Nov. 25-27 ESPN/ESPN2/ESPNU Bracket
One of the most storied early season college basketball tournaments tips off in a few hours. Minnesota matches up against Syracuse this afternoon. ACC preseason player of the year C.J. Fair is the key to this one as I don't see anyone in the Gopher front court with the athleticism to contain the 6'8" forward. Minnesota ends up in the loser's bracket early where they face Arkansas (for the record I am making this prediction at 2:39pm CST so the Cal-Arkansas game hasn't tipped off yet). The Hogs are averaging 14 turnovers per game and I think Minnesota can take advantage of some Arkansas mistakes. Arkansas is a very veteran team but I like Austin and Andre Hollins to lead the Gophers to a win in the second round. That puts the Gophers against Dayton in their final game and that is a game which I think Minnesota should run away with. Dayton really isn't doing anything particularly well right now and they aren't a particularly deep team. Given the way Richard Pitino's team has played so far this season this looks like it should be a pretty easy win.
Projected Winner: Syracuse
Projected B1G Record: 2-1
Las Vegas Invitational
Orleans Arena Nov. 28-29 ESPN2/ESPNU Schedule
It isn't technically a tournament but I would be remiss if I didn't mention Northwestern's preseason travels. The Wildcats will take on Missouri on Thursday. The Tigers only have seven players averaging more than ten minutes a game and only three of those players (their three guards Jordan Clarkson, Jabari Brown, and Earnest Ross) are averaging double digits in points. Still, the Wildcats have not shown they are capable of scoring from the post enough to expose Tigers' issues there. Dave Sobolewski and Jershon Cobb will be matched up against Missouri's best players and I just don't believe that favors the the Cats. I think Northwestern loses their first game somewhat close, but since this is not a tournament they will still face UCLA on Friday. The Bruins have been absolutely destroying opponents this season, outscoring visiting teams by nearly 25 points per game. I don't see any scenario where Northwestern beats UCLA and they leave Las Vegas without a victory.
Projected B1G Record: 0-2
Barclays Center Classic
Barclays Center Nov. 29-30 No TV Listed Bracket
I still can't find any television information for this tournament so if you know where it will be on TV (no illegal streams) please let me know in the comments. Penn State opens the tournament against St. John's. The Red Storm have three players averaging double digit points (nobody else on the team scores more than 5.5 per game) in guard D'Angelo Harrison, forward Jakaar Sampson, and guard Phil Greene IV. I think the experience and big Nittany Lion guards can slow Harrison and Greene IV and I like Donovan Jack and Ross Travis to at least keep Sampson from turning this game into a one man show. I think Penn State grabs a win in the first round and advances to play Ole Miss. If you don't already know who Marshall Henderson is and his story at Ole Miss read this. The Rebels are led by their three guards Henderson, Derrick Millinghaus, and Jarvis Summers and they are averaging 46.7 rebounds per game. I think Penn State has a shot to win this one as well, but I think the interior depth for Ole Miss Anthony Perez and Demarco Cox control the paint and push the Rebels to a win.
Projected Winner: Ole Miss
Projected B1G record: 1-1
Old Spice Classic
HP Field House Nov. 28- Dec. 1 ESPN/ESPN2/ESPNU Bracket
Purdue starts off with Oklahoma State on Thursday. Frankly this is a game where the Boilermakers will be probably be focused on trying to avoid getting blown out as the Cowboys are a national title contender and have a legitimate national player of the year candidate in Marcus Smart. The Boilers head to the consolation bracket early where they face Washington State. The Cougars lost to TCU last night and rank pretty low in pretty much every relevant statistical category. Purdue should be the one providing the blowout in this game and I think the blast Wazzu. The Boilers then will take on Saint Joseph's and again I think this is a team Matt Painter's crew should have no problems with. Frankly this is a terrible bracket for Purdue because opening the tournament with a top five team seems is going to prevent them from playing in several more interesting games later in this tournament. Having a game against Memphis or LSU would have been a lot more entertaining for everyone involved and would have given us a much better idea of how good this Purdue squad really is.
Projected Winner: Oklahoma State
Projected B1G record: 2-1
Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya Nov. 26-27 CBS Sports Network Bracket
The Badgers have a similar issue to the Boilermakers in that their initial match up in Cancun is against probably the second best team in the field. Wisconsin opens against Saint Louis on Tuesday and this is not an easy game to predict. The tempo free stats have these teams ranked pretty close together and the Billikens have been a really strong defensive team this season, ranking sixth in the country in Adjusted D. I could see either team winning this game but I generally expect Wisconsin to loose one or two out of conference games a year so, despite how impressed I have been with the play of Bo Ryan's team thus far this season, I am going to pick Saint Louis. That puts the Badgers in the third place game against Old Dominion which should be a pretty straight forward win for Wisconsin.
Projected Winner: Saint Louis
Projected B1G record: 1-1