Writer: Andrew Martin
Before this new college basketball season started, everyone had their own idea of who would be good, and who wasn’t worth watching. However, when the season actually gets rolling, people start to get an actual idea of what the landscape looks like. Every season, one of the biggest indicators for who is legit is the early season tournaments that have just concluded. Some of the nation’s best teams travel all over the country competing in small sized tournaments such as, The Maui Invitational, The PK80, and The Battle for Atlantis. With that being said, it’s time to go through the results of these brackets and evaluate just how talented some of the pre-season heavily hyped teams are.
The Battle for Atlantis
The Battle for Atlantis tournament features high profile teams every year, this year’s being Villanova and Arizona, but the tournament did not shape up quite how most expected. In the first game of the tournament we saw a surprising upset as Tennessee pulled off the 78-75 OT win against #18 Purdue. However, by far the most shocking part of the day was NC State knocking off second ranked Arizona 90-84, showing some strength from the ACC. Day two was a similar story, we once again saw Purdue get upset, this time by Western Kentucky, and Arizona picked up their second straight loss at the hands of SMU 66-60. Finally, championship day came around, and Villanova handled business as expected going 3-0, and winning the championship 64-50 over Northern Iowa. On the other hand, we got to see an interesting matchup between Purdue and Arizona. Both teams winless in the tournament, despite Arizona coming in as the favorite, and with Purdue as one of the stronger teams there. We watched a very sloppy performance from the Wildcats, as Purdue handled them easily 89-64. That leaves us with the question, should Arizona fans be worried? After the three losses this past week, Zona has moved from #2 to falling out of the top 25. While these were in fact three awful losses in a row, we need to remember that we’re in November. Arizona is one of the most Veteran teams in the nation, led by Allonzo Trier, and they have plenty of time to fix their mistakes before March.
PK80 Invitational Victory Bracket
The PK80 tournament features two brackets stacked of great teams, the first of these brackets being the Victory Bracket. Without a doubt this was the featured tournament of the week with this bracket having teams like Oklahoma, Oregon, UNC, MSU, Arkansas, UConn, Portland, and DePaul. The bracket’s first day tipped off how e expected with UNC, Arkansas, MSU, and UConn advancing to day two. That gave us the defending champs, #9 UNC vs. Arkansas, where Luke Maye set a new career high 28 points with a double-double in the first half as UNC handled business 87-68. The other semi-final game featured #4 MSU vs. UConn, but unfortunately this was Men’s UConn and not Women’s, and Sparty whooped up on UConn 77-57. That left us with #9 UNC vs. #4 MSU in the Victory bracket championship. A sloppy game offensively where UNC had 16 turnovers, and MSU with 24, left us with a defensive battle. Ultimately a strong defensive and rebounding performance from Miles Bridges and the Spartans won the championship 63-45, as they out rebounded the Heels 52 to 36.
PK80 Invitational Motion Bracket
The second bracket in the PK80 invitational gave us even more great teams including, Portland State, Butler, Texas, Florida, Stanford, Ohio State, Gonzaga, and #1 ranked Duke. In day one, we saw all chalk, as Duke, Texas, Florida, and Gonzaga all advanced to the semi-finals. Day two gave us two fantastic matchups’, the first game featured some of the best big men in the game as Marvin Bagley and Duke took on Mo Bamba and Texas. Texas came out of the game ready to play and took an early 16-point lead in the first half. However, the second half was a different story, Alex O’Connell helped lead a Duke comeback and send the game to overtime. With Mo Bamba and Grayson Allen both fouled, Duke edged out Texas 85-78 in OT. How could Florida vs. Gonzaga compare to that thriller? Well, by being even more thrilling. A heavy guard play game, where Johnathan Williams had 39 points for Gonzaga, and Chris Chiozza had 26 for Florida took us to double OT. In the end, Florida’s perimeter offense was too much for the Zags to handle, as Florida advanced to the Motion bracket championship against Duke 111-105. In the championship, Duke once again started slow as we saw all tournament, while Florida on the other hand was hitting shots at will. Florida once led by 18 in the game, but Grayson Allen spurted a late 15-2 run for Duke to end the game. As Duke won the Motion bracket 87-84 behind Marvin Bagley’s 30, and 15 MVP performance.
The Maui Invitational featured two strong teams in #13 Notre Dame and #6 Wichita State, along with the rest of the field, Marquette, VCU, Chaminade, LSU, and Cal. Day one kicked off with Marquette beating Cal and moving on to the winner’s bracket which featured Wichita State, Notre Dame, and LSU. Wichita State came into the semi final matchup against Marquette after getting all Cal could give them in game one. In game two, we saw more of the same as Marquette fought hard against the shockers, and although the score doesn’t reflect it, gave them a serious scare in Wichita State’s 80-66 win. Notre Dame handled LSU with ease, and the championship was set for Wichita State vs. Notre Dame. We had already seen two slow starts out of the Shockers, and to have a chance in this one they needed to play near perfect basketball from start to finish. However, the Fighting Irish had a strong first two games, and carried their momentum in the championship as PG Matt Farrell hit two clutch free throws in the final seconds to outlast the Shockers 67-66.