Bruiser Flint

Quarterfinal worthy of a title game headlines the Anaheim Classic

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The Anaheim Classic was one of many in-season tournaments to announce its pairings on Thursday, and the event has provided a quarterfinal match-up that’s worthy of a final.

That would be Drexel, who returns the majority of last year’s CAA regular season champion squad, taking on reigning WCC champion Saint Mary’s.

Here’s the slate of games and a quick breakdown of the bracket.

Anaheim Classic schedule (all times Eastern)

November 22
2 PM Pacific vs. Xavier (ESPNU)
4:30 PM Drexel vs. Saint Mary’s (ESPN2)
9 PM Rice vs. Georgia Tech (ESPNU)
11:30 PM Drake vs. California (ESPN2)

November 23
3:30 PM Semifinal #1 (ESPN2)
6 PM Consolation #1 (ESPNU)
9:30 PM Consolation #2 (ESPNU)
Midnight Semifinal #2 (ESPN2)

November 25
1:30 PM 5th place game (ESPNU)
4 PM 7th place game (ESPN3)
6:30 pm 3rd place game (ESPNU)
9 PM Championship game (ESPN2)

Best quarterfinal: Drexel vs. Saint Mary’s
Rob Jones is the biggest off-season loss for the Gaels, but Randy Bennett’s back court should rank among the best out west with Matthew Dellavedova, Jorden Page and Stephen Holt all returning to Moraga.

As for Drexel their lone personnel loss from last season’s team was forward Samme Givens, and in guards Chris Fouch, Damion Lee and Frantz Massenat they have one of the best perimeter rotations around.

How well the front court players, such as Saint Mary’s Brad Waldow and Drexel’s Darryl McCoy, play could ultimately determine the outcome but the guard play makes for must-see TV.

Best individual match-up (that we know we’ll see): Dellavedova vs. Massenat
Dellavedova had the higher scoring average last season but Massenat is more than capable of putting up points. The only shame about this match-up (and the game) is that it has to happen in a quarterfinal.

Dellavedova’s field goal percentage (44.6%) was slightly higher than Massenat’s (42.9%) and he did average more than six assists per game, but the Drexel floor general had the higher three-point percentage (45%) of the two.

Best individual match-up (that we hope to see): Allen Crabbe (California) vs. Damion Lee (Drexel)
Crabbe is one of the nation’s best perimeter shooters, but in Lee he would go up against a player with the talent needed to one day win CAA Player of the Year honors.

Half of Crabbe’s shots last season were three-pointers, and while his versatility may be a bit underrated (5.7 rpg, 2.1 apg) this is the year in which Crabbe will need to be even more assertive offensively.

Lee was essentially a “jack of all trades” guy as a freshman, averaging 12.0 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game. And even with the presence of Fouch and Massenat, Lee is capable of doing even more for Bruiser Flint’s team this season.

Winner: Drexel
Really think the winner of the Drexel/Saint Mary’s tilt goes on to win the title, but they won’t lack for challengers either. Xavier, now led by Dezmine Wells, adds a highly touted recruiting class led by point guard Semaj Christion and Cal has the tandem of Crabbe and Justin Cobbs to contend with.

Georgia Tech will have Kentucky transfer Stacey Poole after he sat out last season, but keep an eye on Rice. Seniors Arsalan Kazemi and Tamir Jackson are experienced leaders, and in Kazemi they’ve got one of the better front court players who wasn’t on the major networks every week.

In the end the pick is Drexel due to the amount of experience they return both on the perimeter and inside, which should help them navigate the graduation of Givens.

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

UNLV’s Stephen Zimmerman out with a knee injury

UNLV forward Stephen Zimmerman Jr. shoots against San Diego State during an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
(L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
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The injury Stephen Zimmerman suffered on Saturday will keep the star UNLV freshman out for at least a week, a source told NBC Sports.

The injury is not thought to be serious, however. Zimmerman may be kept out for longer as a precaution, but that’s a result of the Runnin’ Rebels being in a situation where the rest of their regular season is relatively meaningless.

They’re not getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament regardless of how they finish out league play. With back-up center Ben Carter out with a torn ACL, it’s more important to make sure that Zimmerman, who is averaging 10.6 points and 9.1 boards this season, is totally healthy for the Mountain West tournament.

That tournament, mind you, will be played at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.

So the Runnin’ Rebels, regardless of how poor they’ve played this season, will always have a chance to land an automatic bid.

Anyway, the more interesting aspect of this story is how Zimmerman injured the knee. It was a completely avoidable play that came after the whistle, but I’m not sure it was what you would call a “dirty play”. You tell me:

VIDEO: Buddy Hield is ‘all money’ on game-winning three vs. No. 24 Texas

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) takes a shot over Oklahoma State forward Chris Oliver during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Stillwater, Okla., Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
(AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
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With a little more than three minutes left on Monday night, No. 24 Texas held a 57-51 lead on No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman as Jordan Woodard struggled again and Buddy Hield failed to find the rhythm that he had throughout the first three months of the season.

At that point in the game, Hield was 4-for-14 from the floor with 15 points and four turnovers. He had just missed a pair of wide-open threes

“I couldn’t make a shot,” Hield said after the game. But that changed down the stretch. First, Hield finally got a three to drop. On the next possession, he got all the way to the rim and scored. On the following two possessions, he was fouled on a drive to the rim and hit four free throws. And after missing a pull-up jumper, Hield did this:

“I told coach I wanted the ball,” Hield said, “I saw Lammert coming to bite, so I pulled up.”

“It’s all money.”

Hield is already the favorite to win National Player of the Year, and this performance is only going to help his cause further. Think about it like this: Buddy was not good on Monday night, at least according to his (admittedly lofty) standards. But he still finished with 27 points and shook off a cold shooting night just in time to take over down the stretch.

Now think about this: Hield’s head coach has enough confidence in him to hand him the keys in the final minutes despite the fact that he’s struggling and on a team that has two other players that Lon Kruger trusts on game-winning possessions. Think about it. When Oklahoma beat West Virginia at the buzzer, it was Jordan Woodard that the play was drawn up for. When they beat LSU, it was Isaiah Cousins that got the rock on the final possession while Hield was used as a decoy. .

Want to talk about coaching luxuries?

Kruger has three guards that can shoot, penetrate and score, and penetrate and kick, and one of them is the National Player of the Year that doesn’t mind being used as a decoy.