ESPN Events: basketball

Conference realignment got you down?

August, 15, 2013
Remember when you had all the conferences down pat? The power leagues were a cinch. But you were also pretty good at knowing who was in the WAC and Sun Belt, too. It even won you a beer or three at the neighborhood watering hole. Now? Not so much. But who can blame you? Realignment happened. Then it happened again. And again. All this movement has left you lost on trivia night. You haven’t won a free appetizer since Charlotte was in Conference USA. Well, now Charlotte is back in Conference USA.

It’s high time you got the conferences down again like you know the state capitals. Bad example? OK, like you know the Houston Astros play in the American League. Oh, really? Yeah, that happened this season. Anyway, back to college hoops. As we gear up for the start of the season and ESPN Events’ seven early-season basketball showcases, there’s a lot to learn. So take this quiz about some of the participating teams, and you’ll be the conference go-to person this season.

Q: If UMass plays Temple in the Charleston Classic, will this be a de-facto conference game?
A: Not anymore. UMass is still in the Atlantic 10, but its longtime rival Temple has moved on to the American Athletic Conference, which used to be the Big East, of course.

Q: If Davidson and UMass play in Charleston, will this be a de-facto conference game?
A: No, but it would be next year! Davidson is leaving the Southern Conference after this season for the Atlantic 10.

Q: True or False? Creighton and Marquette will be able to size each other up for conference play when they play together in the Wooden Legacy?
A: True. Creighton has moved from the Missouri Valley to the re-tooled Big East, which includes Marquette. Georgetown, playing in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, is also in the new Big East. So is Butler, part of the Old Spice Classic field, which spent just one season in the Atlantic 10.

Q: A good showing by College of Charleston in the Wooden Legacy would help what conference’s RPI?
A: Those who gave up on the conference thing a while back might not even know the Cougars moved to the Southern Conference in 1998. But that’s old news. Charleston is a new member of the Colonial Athletic Association, starting this season.

Q: So Charleston will soon be conference rivals with George Mason, which plays in the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic?
A: No. George Mason has left the CAA for the Atlantic 10.

Q: That’s where Charlotte plays, right?
A: Wrong. The 49ers, who participate in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, have moved back to Conference USA, which it originally left in 2005. See, that was easy!

Now, keep this blog post handy around the holidays when you’re watching these tournaments. Just think of the money you’re going to win from Uncle Billy. You can thank me around Christmas.

Winning early often means winning late

July, 26, 2013
Early season college basketball tournaments are more than just a chance to see some of the nation’s best teams and players square off on neutral floors. Past history indicates winning a grueling, three-game event in November or December – such as ESPN Events’ five in-season elimination tournaments – are often a precursor to winning it all in April. Or at least reaching the Final Four.

Louisville’s run to the 2013 NCAA title snapped a four-year streak in which the national champion also won an early-season tournament. And still, finalist Michigan (NIT Season Tip-Off) and fellow Final Four participant Wichita State (Cancun Challenge) raised a trophy early in the season.

Before that, 2012 national champion Kentucky (Hall of Fame Tip Off Classic), 2011 champ Connecticut (Maui Invitational), 2010 winner Duke (NIT) and 2009 champ North Carolina (Maui) all tasted success early before winning late.

That’s not all. Last season’s Old Spice Classic winner, Gonzaga, earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. So did Legends Classic champ, Indiana. Duke won the Battle 4 Atlantis before reaching the Elite Eight. Before California knocked off No. 5 seed UNLV in the first round it took the Anaheim Classic.

Many coaches jump at competing in an early season event because it gives players a taste of what's to come in conference tournaments and the NCAA championship. And history shows teams that excel playing on consecutive days and against good competition at neutral sites often carry that over into March.

So while you watch teams play three games in four days at the Wooden Legacy, Charleston Classic, Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic, Puerto Rico Tip-Off and Old Spice Classic this fall, tuck away the information. It just might help your NCAA bracket.

Thoughts on the Puerto Rico Tip-Off ...

July, 25, 2013
The bracket seems to grant Georgetown an easy path to the 2013 Puerto Rico Tip-Off title game, writes ESPN.COM's Myron Medcalf. Northeastern lost its top two scorers -- Joel Smith and Jonathan Lee -- from last season (29.9 PPG combined). And Kansas State is recovering from a tumultuous offseason that included the loss of Angel Rodriguez and Rodney McGruder. Georgetown’s opening-round opponent, Charlotte, had offensive issues last year (187th in adjusted offensive efficiency, per Ken Pomeroy) and now top scorer Chris Braswell is gone. Read more Medcalf's full report ...

Is it college basketball season already?

July, 24, 2013
For us, that would be an emphatic YES! We're lucky because we -- the ESPN Events team based (mostly) in Charlotte -- get to see upwards of 70 teams up close, much sooner than the rest of the world. But come November, we'll all get a peek at our favorite basketball teams and players and coaches. Which tournaments are you most looking forward to watching (or even attending)? As this is our first blog post, we thought we'd make it a bit interactive and have you vote. Let us know what you're thinking. VOTE