Early season tournaments continue to emerge and increase from a competition standpoint. Non-conference schedules have gotten tougher and college basketball fans prepare for premier match-ups and upsets even in November.
Let’s take a look at the Puerto Rico Tip-off.
Tournament Date(s): November 15, 16, & 18, 2012.
Tournament Location(s): San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Tournament Summary: Probably one of the most underrated fields in all the early season tournaments, the Puerto Rico Tip-off has plenty of sleeper teams looking to get their season off to a fast start. After a strong NCAA Tournament run, N.C. State looks to have their program back onto the national stage. Providence could be very special if they get their star freshman, Ricardo Ledo to become eligible. Last year’s UNC-Asheville squad was a few minutes and a few questionable calls away from being the first sixteen seed to ever win an NCAA Tournament game. In addition, Akron, Oklahoma State, Massachusetts, and Tennessee are all programs on the rise that are looking to build off of late runs last season.
Player to Watch: Zeke Marshall, Akron: The senior 7-footer is a force to be reckoned with. Just check out his block against Kent State in the MAC championship game two years ago and tell me you don’t get chills. Yes, there are plenty of other top players on other teams (C.J. Leslie, N.C. State, for example), as well as young guns on the rise (Jarnell Stokes, Tennessee, for example), but Marshall is one that you must keep an eye on. He is a solid scorer and rebounder, but his 2.8 blocks per game are an indication that he will produce both highlight and game-changing plays in San Juan.