Early season tournaments continue to emerge and increase from a competition standpoint. Non-conference schedules continue to strengthen and college basketball fans are preparing for premier match-ups and upsets even in November.
Let’s take a look at the Anaheim Classic:
No. 5: Roster Hits to Hurt Rice- The Owls wouldn’t have been among the headline teams in this field even if their roster hadn’t taken the off-season hits that it has endured. Regardless, Rice has lost a number of its top contributors, including double-double machine, Arsalan Kazemi. Tamir Jackson returns as the team’s top scorer (10. 5 ppg), but outside of him, the drop off will present a difficult transition. While Kazemi is the biggest of their losses, the Owls have lost a total of six players, including Dylan Ennis who landed at Villanova this summer.
No. 4: Early Look at Uncertain Xavier- Tu Holloway graduated, Mark Lyons transferred to Arizona, and Dezmine Wells was expelled before finding a new home at Maryland. The uncertainties surrounding the Musketeers this season are aplenty and they follow a year that began with turmoil in their brawl against Cincinnati, but ended in the Sweet 16. Head coach Chris Mack will have his work cut out for him if Xavier hopes to keep intact their streak of seven consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances.
No. 3: West Coast Power- While Anaheim provides the host city for this early-season tournament, the potential of a west coast championship bout could play its course. California and Saint Mary’s have all the potential to duke it out to Anaheim for the tournament title, but their paths won’t be easy. Matthew Dellavedova leads the way in the back court for the Gaels, while the Golden Bears are looking to advance to their fourth NCAA Tournament in the past five seasons. Resume-boosting wins are on the docket in Anaheim for each of these schools.
No. 2: Don’t Sleep on Drexel- The Dragons and head coach Bruiser Flint were left on the outside of the NCAA Tournament bubble last season, but Drexel has all the potential to dance in 2012-13. The Dragons will be among the CAA’s top competitors this season, but could emerge as a sleeper on the national scene, not to mention this tournament. The Dragons can make an early statement in Anaheim, but they will have to get through the west coast powers of Saint Mary’s and California in order to do so.
No. 1: What to Expect From Georgia Tech?- Outside of California, the Yellow Jackets are the only other high-major squad in this tournament’s field. Georgia Tech has struggled in recent memory and expectations remain up in the air as 2012-13 approaches. Glen Rice Jr. was forced to transfer after issues within the program, but head coach Brian Gregory does get senior guard Mfon Udofia back. An incoming freshman class that includes Robert Carter, Julian Royal, and Chris Bolden will be heavily relied upon from the start. It will be interesting to see how the Yellow Jackets will fare, not only in Anaheim, but moving forward in the year.
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