It’s that time of year again for the early season tournament. This is the best time of the year besides March for college basketball. Check out some of my team previews and who I predict to win the tournament below.
Cincinnati over Iowa State
UNLV over Oregon
Cincinnati over UNLV
Season Team Previews
Coach: Dave Rice (1 season at UNLV 26-9)
2011-12: Record 26-9 overall, 9-5 in MWC (3rd)
Starters Returning (2) Mike Moser, Anthony Marshall
Preseason Tournament: Global Sports Classic
Top Non-Conference Games: at California, vs. Northern Iowa, at North Carolina
Transfer In : Khem Birch (Pitt eligible after fall semester), Roscoe Smith (UConn)
Sat Out: Bryce Dejean-Jones (USC)
First year head coach Dave Rice did a heck of a job last season getting the Rebels to a 26 win season. Now the future of UNLV looks very bright and thus there will be higher expectations. Now for this season the Rebels bring back 3 of their top 5 scorers from last season plus most of the reverses. Rice also brings in a very highly touted recruiting class and adds a couple talented transfers to the mix.
The leader for this team will no doubt be forward Mike Moser (14 ppg). Moser can do it all last season he averaged a double double. What makes it tough to stop Moser is he can score in a variety of ways whether it’s shooting the three or scoring inside the paint. He also led the team in steals and block shots last season. Also up front will be McDonalds’ All American Anthony Bennett. Bennett, who choose UNLV over Kentucky is the biggest recruit for the Rebels in years. Like Moser he is a very versatile scorer. At center for UNLV will be Carlos Sosa (5.4 ppg). He has battle injuries but he should produce with more playing time. When Pitt transfer Khem Birch becomes eligible in December look for him to start at center. Like Bennett Birch is a former McDonalds’ All American. He is a dominant rebounder and shot blocker. The Rebels have plenty of depth here. Quintrell Thomas (4.4 ppg) will likely be the top option off the bench. Talented freshman Demetris Morant and Savon Goodman will also push for playing time. This unit gets a boost next season when UConn transfer Roscoe Smith can play.
Leading the Rebels in the backcourt is point guard Anthony Marshall (12.2 ppg). Marshall did it all for the Rebels he ranked in the top 3 among points, rebounding, assists, and steals on the team. He is most effective passing and running this team. Joining him in the backcourt will be Justin Hawkins (7.9 ppg). Hawkins was the sixth man last season. However, look for USC transfer Dejean Jones to start when he returns from a broken hand. Jones is a scorer he averaged 7.6 points pg at USC as a freshman. Providing depth here are two very talented freshman in Katin Reinhardt and Daquan Cook. Reinhardt is another highly regarded recruit that can flat out shot the basketball.
Coach: Mick Cronin (6 seasons at Cincinnati 113-88), Overall 182-112, 9 seasons
2011-12: Record 26-11 overall, 12-6 in Big East (Tie 4th)
Starters Returning (3) Cashmere Wright, Sean Kilpatrick, JaQuon Parker
Preseason Tournament: Global Sports Classic
Top Non-Conference Games: vs. Alabama, vs. Xavier, at Marshall, vs. New Mexico
Transfer Out: Octavious Ellis
Sat Out: Shaquille Thomas (redshirt)
Last season started out ugly for Mick Cronin and the Bearcats they lost to Presbyterian then had the ugly brawl with Xavier. After that brawl Cronin did a heck of a coaching job as the Bearcats won 10 of their 11 next games. They made it to the sweet 16. While the Bearcats lose 2 out of their 3 top scores off last year’s team they also bring back about everyone else. They will feature the best backcourt in the Big East. This team is primed to make their 3 straight trips to the big dance.
There is no question that the Bearcats are guard heavy. Leading the way in the backcourt is Sean Kilpatrick (14.3 ppg). Kilpartick did a little bit of everything last season; he even played some minutes at power forward. His biggest strength is three point shooting in which he led the Big East with 2.49 made threes per game. Running the point guard duties will be Cashmere Wright (10.9ppg). Wright was one of the best point guards in the Big East last season with his versatile scoring ability and defense. He set the Cincinnati record with most steals in a season. At the other guard spot will be JaQuon Parker (9.4 ppg). He is the glue guy for this team. Although only 6’3” he averaged 5.6 rebounds pg. The Bearcats have solid depth here giving them a 5 man rotation. Those depth guys are Jeremiah Davis III (2.5 ppg) and Ge’Lawn Guyn (2.3 ppg).
How far this team can go will depend on how the frontcourt develops. Leading the way will be Justin Jackson (5.1 ppg). His biggest strength his is shot blocking; he got some starting experience last season. He will need become more of an scorer. Joining him in the backcourt is freshman Shaquille Thomas. Thomas a highly recruit a year ago sat out last season because of grades. He can score both inside and out. The Bearcats have solid depth here. Leading the way I s Kelvin Gaines (.8 ppg) and Cheikh Mbodj (1. 7ppg). Also providing depth will be JUCO transfer Titus Rubles and Jermaine Sanders (1.5 ppg).
Coach: Fred Hoiberg (2 seasons at Iowa State 39-27)
2011-12: Record 23-11 overall, 12-6 in Big 12(Tie/3rd)
Starters Returning (2) Chris Babb, Melvin Ejim
Preseason Tournament: Global Sports Classic in Vegas
Top Non-Conference Games: vs. BYU, at Iowa
Transfer Out: Tavon Sledge (Iona), Jordan Railey (Washington State)
Sat Out: Korie Lucious (Michigan State), Will Clyburn (Utah)
Early Departure: Royce White
Iowa State has become the place where transfers from other schools flock to. In 2010 the Cyclones brought in 4 transfers, most of those players help Iowa State get to the NCAA tournament last season. Now 2 of those transfers are got but head coach Fred Hoiberg brings in two more transfers that sat out last season. Hoiberg also brings in a solid recruiting class. While the Cyclones lose their top 3 scores they return everyone else.
Leading the Cyclones in the frontcourt will be power forward Melvin Ejim (9.3 ppg). Ejim is a very solid rebounder with 6.6 per game. Look for his number to really increase with being more focus of the offense. Starting for the center spot will be Percy Gibson (4.8 ppg) and senior Anthony Booker(3.5 ppg). Booker almost made 50 % of his three pointers last season. At small forward the Cyclones will receive a huge boost from Utah transfer Will Clyburn. In his last season at Utah he averaged 17.1 points and 7.8 rebounds. Depth could be a concern maybe not on talent but on experience. Two freshman Georges Niang and Nkereuwen Okoro will provide depth. Niang is a highly rated recruit.
Leading the way in the backcourt for Iowa State is Michigan State transfer Korie Lucious. In his last season he led Michigan State to the 2010 final four. He is a true point guard something this Iowa State team needs. Joining him the backcourt will be shooting guard and former Penn State transfer Chris Babb(7.8 ppg). Babb will be the team’s best three point shooter but he needs to make a higher percentage. He is also an excellent defender. Tyus McGee (7.7 ppg) will once again be the sixth man. Freshman freshmen Naz Long and Sherron Dorsey-Walker will also provide depth.
Coach: Dana Altman (2 seasons at Oregon 45-28) Overall 455-271, 23 years
2011-12: Record 24-10 overall, 13-5 in Pac 12 ( Tie 2nd)
Starters Returning (2) E.J. Singler, Tony Woods
Preseason Tournament: Global Sports Classic (Las Vegas)
Top Non-Conference Games: vs. Nebraska, vs. Vanderbilt
Transfer Out: Brett Kingma, Jabari Brown (Missouri)
Transfer In : Arslan Kazemi (Rice)
Sat Out: Austin Kuemper (redshirt)
Last year the Ducks hoped they could make the NCAA tournament but instead they made it to the quarterfinals of the NIT. Now, it looks like another rebuilding year in Eugene. The Ducks lose 3 of their top 4 scorers from last season and a couple of other players transferred out of the program. Oregon should have a pretty strong frontcourt but there will be questions in the backcourt.
The unquestioned leader of this team will be small forward E.J. Singler (13. 6 ppg). Singler is a very versatile scorer and he was actually the team’s leading rebounder last season. Joining Singer in the frontcourt is seniors Tony Woods (6.8 ppg) and Carlos Emory (6.8 ppg). Woods is a very physical player at center but he needs to become a better scorer. Emory like Singler is a very versatile scorer. Both should produce more with more playing time. Providing depth here will be a bunch of freshman in Austin Kuemper, Arik Armstead, and Ben Carter. Armstead is currently on the football team. This unit could receive a huge boost if the NCAA rules Rice transfer Arslan Kazemi eligible this season. He averaged a double double last season at Rice. Update Kazemi is playing this season for Oregon.
The questions for this team will be in the backcourt only Johnathan Loyd (3.3 ppg) saw playing time last season. Loyd, who has starting experience, will run the point. Backing him up will be talented freshman Dominic Artis, who was once committed to UCLA. Likely starting at shooting guard will be JUCO Transfer Devon Branch . He is a very good three point shooter. Battling for minutes off the bench will be three freshman Damyean Dotson, Fred Richardson, and Willie Moore.
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