Earlier today the bracket for the 2012 Charleston Classic was revealed and it features some of the most entertaining teams in the country.
The eight-team field looks like this: Auburn Tigers, Baylor Bears, Boston College Eagles, Charleston Cougars, Colorado Buffaloes, Dayton Flyers, Murray State Racers and St. John’s Red Storm.
When and Where: November 15-16, 18 at TD Arena in Charleston, SC
First Round Matchups:
Dayton vs. Colorado 12:30 pm ET
Baylor vs. Boston College 3 pm ET
St. John’s vs. College of Charleston 5 pm ET
Murray State vs. Auburn 8 pm ET
The rest of the tournament continues on November 16 with the semi-final and consolation games with the Championship game coming on November 18.
You can view the entire bracket here
First thoughts: This tournament can be one of the better preseason tournaments in the country with Baylor, Colorado and Murray State as the favorites to win. Baylor advanced to the Elite Eight last season and have plenty of talent to make a similar run this season with heralded freshmen Isiah Austin and Ricardo Gathers set to make their debuts. A team Baylor beat on the way to the Elite Eight was the upstart Colorado Buffaloes who, under head coach Tad Boyle, has made tremendous strides in the past two seasons to get to where they are now. They won their first ever conference title last season and upset UNLV in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Buffs will be young with only one senior and six freshmen but they will also be an entertaining team that only gets better as the year goes along. Murray State went 31-2 last year and they return the majority of those players and will once again be one of the top non-power conference teams this season. St. John’s will see head coach Steve Lavin return to the bench after dealing with prostate cancer for the majority of last season and it will be one of the feel good stories in the NCAA. Dayton won 20 games last season and they could be one of the surprise teams this season with three of their top five scorers returning from a year ago. It’s yet to be seen if Auburn can be a legitimate program again as they are considered one of the worst in the SEC. College of Charleston will be led by a new face this year as Doug Wojcik takes over for the retired Bobby Cremins.
Best first-round game: Baylor vs. Boston College could be interesting but I’m going to go with Dayton vs. Colorado. These two programs will likely vie for at-large bids for the NCAA Tournament come Selection Sunday and the both boast talented squads. Colorado has a stellar recruiting class coming in highlighted by two top 100 players, Josh Scott and Xavier Johnson. They also have a potential NBA lottery pick returning in the likes of Andre Roberson. He was fourth in the nation in rebounding last season and has immense potential to get even better. As for Dayton, they return one of their leading scorers from last season Josh Benson after he missed the second half with a knee injury. They won 20 games and could be one of the teams that surprise folks this season.
Best potential match-up: Baylor vs. Murray State simply because of their performances last season. This year’s teams are still led by tremendous point guards in Pierre Jackson (Baylor) and Isaiah Cannan (Murr. St.) and they have very good backcourts. However, Baylor has the better frontcourt and they would ultimately overpower the Racers with their size, strength and depth. This would be the game that most people would want for the championship but anything can happen.
Title game prediction: Colorado over Murray State. I think Colorado avenges their loss to Baylor in last year’s tournament and then out run the Racers in the title game. It’s early to make a prediction but it always stirs up a good debate.