Baylor Bears guard Pierre Jackson reacts near the end of the team's loss to the Kentucky Wildcats in their men's NCAA South Regional basketball game in Atlanta

It will be tough to pick a winner in the Charleston Classic

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The Charleston Classic announced its bracket pairings on Thursday afternoon, and a quick glance reveals a field that will be tough to predict come November.

Baylor lost some key contributors in the front court, but they add Isaiah Austin and Ricardo Gathers while guards Brady Heslip and Pierre Jackson return to Waco.

There’s also a Murray State team led by Isaiah Canaan and Ed Daniel to be reckoned with, and Colorado, Dayton and host College of Charleston will likely be heard from as well.

Here’s the schedule and a few thoughts on the Charleston Classic, which will be played on November 15, 16 and 18 (non-bracketed games on November 21 (Auburn/Boston College) and 24 (College of Charleston/Baylor) as well).

Charleston Classic schedule (all times Eastern)

November 15
12:30 PM Colorado vs. Dayton (ESPN3)
3 PM Baylor vs. Boston College (ESPNU)
5 PM St. John’s vs. College of Charleston (ESPNU)
8 PM Murray State vs. Auburn (ESPN3)

November 16
12:30 PM Semifinal #1 (ESPNU)
2:30 PM Consolation #1 (ESPNU)
5:30 PM Semifinal #2 (ESPN3)
7:30 PM Consolation #2 (ESPN3)

November 18
Noon 7th place game (ESPN3)
2 PM 5th place game (ESPN3)
6 PM 3rd place game (ESPNU)
8:30 PM Championship game (ESPN2)

Best quarterfinal: Colorado vs. Dayton
Tad Boyle’s Buffaloes took full advantage of their first season in the Pac-12, grabbing the league’s automatic bid and then beating UNLV in the round of 64. What can they do for an encore, especially with Carlon Brown, Austin Dufault and Nate Tomlinson graduating?

Well, they could be better, with Askia Booker, Spencer Dinwiddie and Andre Roberson all back in Boulder. Add in a good recruiting haul led by wing Xavier Johnson and big man Josh Scott, and Colorado could very well return to the NCAA tournament.

But their quarterfinal opponent has a chance to get to the Big Dance as well, with point guard Kevin Dillard leading the way in Archie Miller’s second season at the helm. Dayton will have to account for the graduation of four seniors, most notably Chris Johnson, but forwards Josh Benson and Matt Kavanaugh return as well.

Best individual match-up (that we know we’ll see): Andrew Lawrence (College of Charleston) vs. D’Angelo Harrison (St. John’s)
Lawrence is the floor general for the Cougars, and his experience this summer with Great Britain’s national team should serve Lawrence well once he returns to the States. Lawrence averaged 13.0 points and 5.5 assists per game for the Cougars last season, and he’ll be a key contributor in Doug Wojcik’s first season as head coach.

As for Harrison, he was right there with first round draft pick Maurice Harkless in what was a tough 2011-12 season for the undermanned Red Storm. Harrison averaged 17.0 points per game, and a large recruiting class should help him shoulder the load down the line. But they’re young, meaning that early on Harrison may still have to do the heavy lifting.

Best individual match-up (that we hope to see): Isaiah Canaan (Murray State) vs. Pierre Jackson (Baylor)
This needs to happen. Canaan remains one of the nation’s best point guards, and his ability to score as well as set up teammates makes him a tough match-up for anyone. And with Ivan Aska, Jewuan Long and Donte Poole graduating, Canaan may have to do a little more scoring to go along with Ed Daniel’s play inside.

But Jackson’s no slouch, as his arrival in Waco was one reason why Scott Drew’s team was able to reach the Elite 8. With Baylor losing four key contributors inside guards such as Jackson and Brady Heslip will likely have to do more in the way of scoring as the young bigs get used to college basketball.

Winner: Baylor
There are a number of teams that can win this tournament, but the pick here is Baylor due to the potential of guys such as Isaiah Austin and Ricardo Gathers. There’s also sophomore shooting guard Deuce Bello, an electrifying leaper who will need to show improvement offensively if the Bears are to have a shot at duplicating (or exceeding) last year’s success.

It would not be a surprise if Colorado or Murray State ended up winning the event, and College of Charleston is another team folks need to keep an eye on.

Raphielle is also the assistant editor at CollegeHoops.net and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

No. 22 Cincinnati’s loss to No. 16 Butler shines light on AAC’s struggles

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 10: Head coach Mick Cronin of the Cincinnati Bearcats reacts against the Butler Bulldogs in the first half of the game at Hinkle Fieldhouse on December 10, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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Kelan Martin scored 20 points and Andrew Chrabascz added 12 points, four boards and five assists as No. 16 Butler bounced back from a tough loss at Indiana State to beat No. 22 Cincinnati, 75-65.

The Bulldogs had been undefeated on the season prior to the loss to the Sycamores, but their ranking was built on the fact that they had beaten Arizona, who was No. 8 at the time, as well as a trio of high-major programs that look destined for the NIT.

Cincinnati probably isn’t destined for the NIT. Their top 25 ranking is justified, which is what makes this win valuable. Quality non-conference wins matter, and this is just one of a handful of good wins for what has proven to be one of the most top-heavy conferences in the country. Villanova, Creighton, Xavier and Butler all look capable of reaching the Sweet 16 this season.

The opposite is true for Cincinnati, who look like the flag-bearer in a conference that isn’t really all that good. They’re the best team in the AAC this season, but that’s a conference that has consistently disappointed this year. SMU, Temple and UConn have all struggled more than we expected them to. Tulsa and Memphis are in rebuilding mode. Houston was supposed to be good this season but they’ve yet to live up to the preseason hype.

Think about it like this: The only team in the AAC without multiple losses on the season is now UCF. That’s … not ideal, and it’s going to be interesting to see just how many bids the league is able to generate.

Think about it. Temple has beaten West Virginia and Florida State while losing to New Hampshire and UMass. SMU’s best win is either Pitt or TCU, both of whom are borderline tournament teams. UConn beat Syracuse but has some atrocious losses on their resume. Houston beat Rhode Island but lost to Arkansas and LSU. Memphis beat Iowa, but Iowa’s not all that good. UCF’s best win is … Mississippi State?

Cincinnati’s lone quality win is at Iowa State, who is about to drop out of the top 25.

POSTERIZED: Wichita State’s Daishon Smith dunks on Oklahoma big man

WICHITA, KS - NOVEMBER 13:  Guard Daishon Smith of the Wichita State Shockers drives up court past forward Roschon Prince #23 of the Long Beach State 49ers during the first half on November 13, 2016 at Charles Koch Arena in Wichita, Kansas.  (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)
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Daishon Smith is 6-foot-1.

Kristian Doolittle is 6-foot-7.

The lil guy won this battle:

Here’s another angle of the dunk, which sent Wichita State’s bench into hysterics:

POSTERIZED: Duke’s Grayson Allen with a Dunk of the Year candidate (VIDEO)

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It looks like Grayson Allen’s toe is healthy. I’d say his explosivness is back:

Whoa.

Yeah.

POSTERIZED: Five-star Class of 2017 guard Trevon Duval dunks on 6’8″ defender

CHARLOTTE, NC - JULY 9: Trevon Duval during the 2015  Under Armour All-America Basketball Camp on July 9, 2015 at Queens College in Charlotte, NC. (Photo by Ned Dishman/Under Armour)
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Class of 2017 point guard Trevon Duval put down a huge poster dunk on a 6’8″ defender on Saturday as the five-star prospect showed why many consider him the top lead guard in high school basketball.

The 6-foot-2 Duval is considered the No. 3 overall prospect in the Class of 2017 by Rivals.

Nigel Hayes shines against as No. 17 Wisconsin beats Marquette

MILWAUKEE, WI - DECEMBER 10:  Nigel Hayes #10 of the Wisconsin Badgers is fouled by Luke Fischer #40 of the Marquette Golden Eagles during the first half of a game at the BMO Harris Bradley Center on December 10, 2016 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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What a difference a year makes.

Last season at this time, Wisconsin dropped a home game to a Marquette team that was headed to the NIT.

This year?

The Badgers put six players in double-figures as they went into Milwaukee and knocked off Marquette, 93-84.

Bronson Koenig continued his hot shooting, finishing with 18 points and six assists while shooting 4-for-6 from beyond the arc. Vitto Brown chipped in with 15 points, Khalil Iverson had 16 and Ethan Happ chipped in with 11 despite battling foul trouble all afternoon.

But the really story here – hell, the story of Wisconsin’s season to date – has been the change in the way that Nigel Hayes plays.

Hayes was terrific again on Saturday. He had 17 points, nine boards, four assists and three steals. He shot 6-for-10 from the floor and attempted just a pair of threes, making one of them. He had the ball in his hands when Wisconsin was trying to kill off the game, and, more importantly, head coach Greg Gard has seem to start to take advantage of just how good Hayes can be as a facilitator.

There are a couple of points that need to be made here:

  1. When Hayes plays like this, he deserves to be in the all-american discussion. He’s averaging 18.0 points, 7.3 boards and 6.7 assists in the three games Wisconsin has played against high-major competition since the change, and the Badgers have won five straight games while playing easily their best basketball of the season.
  2. And it’s not just because of the numbers he puts up. When Hayes operates as Wisconsin’s de-facto point guard, it makes everyone else on the roster better. For starters, it allows Koenig to play off the ball, where he seems to be more effective. He’s at his best when he’s hunting shots and trying to create off the bounce, but his aggressiveness can be detrimental when he’s the only one touching the ball. It also means offense runs through Happ more often since Koenig isn’t dominating possession, and it lets guys like Brown space the floor because they’re actually able to get rhythm threes.

As of today, Wisconsin is the favorite to win the Big Ten, even if Indiana is far more likely to end up being a No. 1 seed in March.