By Brennan Marks SZ Contributing Writer
Some of you might recognize me from my weekly college football columns. I love college football, but if there is any sport I love more than college football, it is college basketball. Therefore, I will periodically write columns about college basketball, and hopefully, they will appear on this blog.
Now, the college basketball season is quickly approaching, and I do not have enough time, or expertise to write a comprehensive preview of every possible facet of the season. Instead, this column ranks the preseason tournaments from worst to best as far as quality of teams goes. The basis in my selection for tournaments was ranking all of the tournaments on this web page: http://www.sportsline.com/collegebasketball/story/10932089 , and I am sorry if any other tournaments were left out. This article is strictly based on my opinions and assumptions on the teams, but that does not mean that some of the lower ranked tournaments will provide less exciting games. Anyway, here is the list.
10. Great Alaskan Shootout
The Great Alaskan Shootout has a name reputation, but that’s about all it has this year. When the headliners are Louisiana Tech and San Diego State, you know you’re in trouble. Maybe Sarah Palin will show up, though.
9. Cancun Challenge
From cold Alaska, we move to a more ideal climate in Cancun, and the Cancun Challenge itself is a bit more ideal than the Great Alaskan Shootout. Still, Cancun features a decent SEC team in Vanderbilt, last year’s regular season media darling in Drake, a solid C-USA team with UCF, a team with the hottest coach in America with VCU, and good New Mexico team. That may sound good but compared to some of the other tournaments, it’s nothing.
8. Legends Classic
The Legends Classic does not excite me very much, but it does have a lot of depth and good teams at the top. There are four teams from four different BCS conferences (Mississippi State- SEC, Washington State- Pac 10, Texas Tech- Big 12, and Pittsburgh-Big East), and assuming one of those teams wins the tournament (like I said, a lot of depth but not many quality teams), they could make a statement for their conference.
7. Anaheim Classic
This should be a good tournament. Arizona State features one of the best players in the nation in James Harden and will compete with UCLA and USC for the Pac-10. Baylor will compete for the Big 12. UTEP is in upper-tier of C-USA. St Mary’s has a more than legitimate shot to compete with Gonzaga in the WCC and make the NCAA tournament. Wake Forrest is on the rise in the ACC. Charlotte and Providence have decent programs as well. It’s a testament to rest of the tournaments that this tournament is ranked 7th.
6. Paradise Jam
This tournament features two highly ranked teams in Connecticut and Miami and features some other solid teams, like Wisconsin, Southern Miss, and San Diego. But the strength of the tournaments rests on the quality of UConn and the U.
5. Puerto Rico Tip Off
Many college basketball fans are wowed by the so-called “one-and-done” freshmen, or the players who would have gone to the NBA straight out of high school but were forced to go to college for one year because of an NBA rule. The Puerto Rico Tip Off features two of those freshmen with Demar Derozan of Pac 10 competitor USC and Tyreke Evans of national runner-up and perennial C-USA favorite, Memphis. Compound that with Xavier, Virginia Tech, Missouri, and Seton Hall, and you’ve got quite the formidable tournament.
4. Maui Invitational
Well, it features the # 1 ranked team in the land in North Carolina, but in case you haven’t heard, their star player and preseason national player of the year/All-America, Tyler Hansbrough might not play because of an injury. Not to worry, this features another preseason All-America in Notre Dame’s Luke Harangody. Not to mention Texas, Alabama, Oregon, St. Joe’s, a depleted Indiana, and of course, Chaminade.
3. Coaches vs. Cancer
Much like the Paradise Jam, this tournament features two highly ranked teams with Duke and UCLA. The difference is that this tournament has a lot more depth and features other solid teams such as Michigan, Houston, and Southern Illinois.
2. NIT Season Tip Off
This tournament is probably the most well-known preseason tournament, and unlike the Great Alaskan Shootout, it lives up to its name recognition. The favorites are Oklahoma, Purdue, Boston College, Arizona, Davidson, and UAB. It also features Georgia and St. John’s. Personally, I’m rooting for Davidson to make it to Madison Square Garden (they would likely have to beat Oklahoma, at Oklahoma) and play against UAB (they would likely have to beat Arizona, at Arizona) in the semi-finals. That game would present a match-up of two of the best, if not the two best, 3 point shooters in college basketball in Davidson’s Stephen Curry and UAB’s Robert Vaden. Even if that does not occur, the games will surely feature some name and quality teams.
1. Old Spice Classic
This is an amazing tournament, and every team has a legitimate shot to make the NCAA tournament (although it’s not likely that a couple of them will). There’s not really much to say about this; it just features great teams. How did they get a field with Georgetown, Maryland, Gonzaga, Michigan State, Siena, Tennessee, Oklahoma State, and Wichita State? It’s simply amazing.
By: Brennan Marks, SZ Contributing Writer