Early season tournaments continue to emerge and increase from a competition standpoint. Non-conference schedules are getting tougher as college basketball fans prepare for premier match-ups and upsets even in November.
Let’s take a look at the 2K Sports Classic:
No. 5: Wounded Warrior Project- After benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer for a number of years, the 2K Sports Classic begins its work with the Wounded Warrior Project in 2012. Coaches vs. Cancer begins their own tournament field this upcoming season, allowing this field’s organizers to switch gears. The Gazelle Group, the organization that runs the 2K Sports Classic, has continued to make tremendous strides in helping others since its inception. Last season, Mississippi State became the first non-ranked to take the crown since 2006.
No. 4: Non-Division I Extension- The 2012 2K Sports Classic will feature three schools that are not currently at the Division I level. West Alabama, Northern New Mexico and the University of the District of Columbia will all participate in this year’s field. The three schools, in addition to the remainder of the field with the exception of the four automatic regional hosts, will all participate in the tournament’s early rounds that begin on Nov. 9. Purdue, Alabama, Villanova and Oregon State will all automatically qualify for the semifinal round at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
No. 3: Is Alabama the Team to Beat?- The Crimson Tide lost both J’Mychal Green and Tony Mitchell from last season’s squad, but head coach Anthony Grant still has plenty of talent to work with. Trevor Releford paces the squad in the back court alongside sophomore Trevor Lacey, while high expectations could arise for Levi Randolph in 2012-13. Villanova is looking to replace both Maalik Wayns and Dominic Cheek, while Purdue (Robbie Hummel) and Oregon State (Jared Cunningham) are in search of new go-to-performers.
No. 2: Another East Coast Showcase for Oregon State- The Beavers took to the east coast in 2011, traveling to East Rutherford, N.J. as part of last season’s TicketCity Legends Classic. Oregon State upset Texas before falling by two points to Vanderbilt in the field’s championship game. The 2K Sports Classic has a similar format to that of the Legends Classic and the Beavers will once again be heading to the tri-state area this November. There is no Jared Cunningham for Oregon State in 2012-13, but the Beavers will be looking for some early magic again, only this year they travel across the Hudson River and into New York City.
No. 1: Sub-Regional Drama?- The four semifinalists will all qualify for a trip to New York City in mid-November, regardless of the sub-regional round. However, that doesn’t mean an early upset can’t occur. Alabama will host South Dakota State on Friday, Nov. 9 in a game that marks the first test for each squad this season. Led by senior guard Nate Wolters, the Jackrabbits are fresh off an appearance in the 2012 NCAA Tournament with aspirations of another Summit League crown. Alabama is certainly the more talented team, but this will be no cake walk for the Crimson Tide.
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