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