The field for the 2015 Advocare Invitational (formerly the Old Spice Classic) includes five teams that reached the NCAA tournament last season, including two in Notre Dame and Wichita State who met in the Sweet 16 with the Fighting Irish winning. Wednesday it was reported by ESPN.com that the matchups have been determined, with the two teams sitting on opposite sides of the bracket.
The lone quarterfinal matchup with two NCAA tournament teams is the one between Dayton and Iowa, with both teams expected to make a return trip in 2016.
Archie Miller’s Flyers, who won games over Boise State and Providence before falling to Oklahoma in the Round of 32, lost just Jordan Sibert from last season’s rotation and will be much deeper than the seven-man outfit that nearly reached the Sweet 16. Dayton will be one of the early favorites in the Atlantic 10, and while Iowa may not have those expectations in the Big Ten they should be a tournament team despite the loss of Aaron White. Mike Gesell and Adam Woodbury are among the returnees for the Hawkeyes, who lost to Gonzaga in the Round of 32.
The Flyers and Hawkeyes are on the same side of the bracket as Notre Dame, which will open with Monmouth. The Fighting Irish were one possession away from knocking off Kentucky in the Elite Eight, and they’ll have to account for the loss of first-round draft pick Jerian Grant and second-round pick Pat Connaughton as they look to defend their ACC title. Demetrius Jackson leads the returnees for a team that should at the very least return to the NCAA tournament.
Monmouth is a team that should be in the mix in the MAAC, with their top three leading scorers from a season ago back on campus. The Hawks also add guards Je’lon Hornbeak and Micah Seaborn to the rotation, and they’re two players capable of having an immediate impact.
Wichita State is the most noteworthy team on the opposite side of the bracket, with the Shockers taking on a young USC team in their opener. Ron Baker and Fred Van Vleet return for the Shockers, who added a talented front court player in former Cleveland State forward Anton Grady this offseason. The Trojans struggled mightily last season, but the hope is that a healthy Jordan McLaughlin and the addition of players such as Bennie Boatwright and Chimezie Metu will help spark a turnaround.
Xavier, which like Notre Dame and Wichita State reached the second weekend of the NCAA tournament, will face Alabama in the other quarterfinal on that side of the bracket. While Chris Mack has some key seniors to replace in Matt Stainbrook and Dee Davis, a good portion of last year’s rotation is back and the Musketeers should be a contender in the Big East. As for Alabama, this will be the first season of the Avery Johnson era, so it will be interesting to see what the Crimson Tide are able to do.