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 South Padre Invitational.
Tournament Date(s): November 23-24, 2012.
Tournament Location(s): South Padre Island Convention Center.
Tournament Summary: A tournament with smaller schools than most, the South Padre Invitational may have some hidden gems in it. Illinois St. is certainly a team of interest. They pushed Creighton to the brink in the Missouri Valley conference tournament last year, and they return the dynamic senior duo of Jackie Carmichael and Tyler Brown. TCU makes its debut in the Big 12, but it may be a rough first year with the losses of Hank Thorns and J. R. Cadot. The Blazers of UAB also took a heavy loss in Cameron Moore. With jumping ability like a pogo stick, Moore’s double-double averaged will be missed as well. Fairleigh Dickinson only won two conference games last season, but that number should go up with Melquan Bolding and Lonnie Hayes getting another year of experience under their belts. The transferring of J. J. Avila will likely lead to Navy finishing in the basement of the Patriot League again. Delaware St.’s Tahj Tate isn’t just a cool name, he’s also fierce scoring in the lane. With Casey Walker and Marques Oliver also on board, watch out for the Hornets. Prairie View A&M won’t get much national publicity aside from this tournament. Is this the year that Northwestern finally makes the NCAA tournament? The loss of John Shurna and suspension of JerShon Cobb don’t help, but if Drew Crawford can step up, they just might.
Player to Watch: Drew Crawford, Northwestern: The senior Wildcat has a goal that no one else in the program’s history could accomplish: get Northwestern to the big dance. He’ll be the man with Shurna gone, and will have to carry a heavier load, so expect his averages of 16.1 points and 4.7 rebounds to jump up. Crawford is a great scorer, but what’s most impressive is how efficient he does it. His numbers of 48% from the field and 41% from the arc are extremely impressive for a guard. Can he break the Wildcat curse? He’ll begin that journey at the South Padre Invitational.