Friday, November 1, 2013
Ranked teams reign in early season tournaments
By Mike Cranston
Clear your calendars for Nov. 12, college basketball fans. You’ll want to be in front of your bigscreen when No. 1 faces No. 2 and the No. 4 squares off against No. 5. The State Farm Champions Classic will be a night to remember, and the rest of ESPN Events’ early-season tournaments aren’t bad either. Based on Thursday’s first Associated Press Top 25 poll, seven of the top 10 teams and 11 ranked teams in all will play in these events.
The marquee night is less than two weeks away at the United Center, when top-ranked Kentucky showcases its fabulous freshmen class against No. 2 Michigan State. It will be the first significant test for either team. Kentucky faces UNC Asheville and Northern Kentucky before that. Michigan State opens at home against McNeese State before traveling to Chicago.
And that’s not all. The other part of the doubleheader features No. 4 Duke against fifth-ranked Kansas. Top recruit Andrew Wiggins of the Jayhawks will face No. 2 recruit Jabari Parker. Not bad, eh? Both games will be televised on ESPN.
Here's how the rest of ESPN Events’ early-season slate shakes out:
Seventh-ranked Michigan and No. 14 VCU will play in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Nov. 21-24, with a potential matchup looming in the final. The rest of the field includes Georgetown, Kansas State, Charlotte, Florida State, Long Beach State and Northeastern.
Push away from the Thanksgiving table in time to see No. 8 Oklahoma State and 13th-ranked Memphis play in the Old Spice Classic Nov. 28-Dec. 1. The rest of that event features Butler, Saint Joseph’s, LSU, Purdue, Siena and Washington State. Memphis will play at Oklahoma State in an Old Spice Classic non-bracketed game Nov. 19, and they could meet again in the final.
Memphis isn’t shying away from tough competition. The Tigers will also play No. 10 Florida in the Jimmy V Classic on Dec. 17 at Madison Square Garden.
No. 17 Marquette should be tested in the Wooden Legacy Nov. 28-Dec. 1. Creighton, which received the second-most votes of unranked teams, is also in the field along with Miami, San Diego State, Arizona State, Cal State Fullerton, College of Charleston and George Washington.
No. 23 New Mexico headlines the field in the Charleston Classic Nov. 21-24, joining UAB, Clemson, Davidson, Georgia, UMass, Nebraska and Temple.