Starting on Thursday, there are some great early season college basketball tournaments. I’m going to give readers my predictions and what players fans should look out for.
Myrtle Beach Invitational
I believe the favorite, Villanova, will win this tournament. However, Baylor or Mississippi State could definitely win this tournament as well. Villanova shouldn’t have any problems in the first round against Middle Tennessee State. The Blue Raiders are a bit down this season. I think Mississippi State will beat Tulane. Although Tulane is off to a great start, they haven’t really played anyone good yet. Baylor likely won’t have any issues with Ohio. Coastal Carolina could give Utah a run for their money.
My top ten players to watch out for are Reggie Perry (Miss St.), Teshaun Hightower (Tulane), Tyson Carter (Miss St.), Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (Villanova), Antonio Green (MTSU), Timmy Allen (Utah) , Tyrell Gumbs-Frater (Coastal Carolina), Jared Butler (Baylor), Jason Preston (Ohio) and Saddiq Bey (Villanova). Reggie Perry, Timmy Allen, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, and Saddiq Bey are probably the best big men in this tournament. Antonio Green is averaging 23.5 points per game and is the leader for the Blue Raiders. Jared Butler is probably the most talented point guard in this tournament. He is only a sophomore and is a great leader for the Bears. Teshaun Hightower, Jason Preston, Tyrell Gumbs-Frater and Tyson Carter are a few of the other tough guards in this tournament.
This tournament is wide open and I believe there are multiple teams who could win it. My pick would be Miami. They are not expected to win this tournament, but I believe there is a good chance they can. They will likely meet Florida in the second round. This Florida team has been shaky and fans don’t really know what to expect from them. Xavier is probably the favorite but they have had a few close scares this season. UConn is up and down this season. They lost to Saint Joseph’s but also upset Florida.
My top ten players to watch out for are Keandre Cook (Missouri State), Chris Lykes (Miami), Christian Vital (UConn), Jayvon Graves (Buffalo), Naji Marshall (Xavier), Nigel Haughton (Towson), Kerry Blackshear Jr. (Florida), Ryan Daly (Saint Joseph’s), Ronald Segu (Buffalo), and Kameron McGusty (Miami). Kerry Blackshear Jr. is probably the most talented player in the whole tournament and for the Gators to win, he will have to step up. Chris Lykes, Keandre Cook, Jayvon Graves, Ryan Daly, Nigel Haughton, and Kameron McGusty are all tough guards who can score well. Christian Vital has been great for the Huskies this season. He is averaging 19.3 points and nine rebounds per game. Ronald Segu is a player who is under the radar. He was a top recruit coming into Buffalo and this year is starting to play a huge role for the Bulls. Naji Marshall is one of the better big men in this tournament and will look to lead Xavier.
This is not a tournament, but there are some great games to watch out for in this event. LSU plays Utah State on Friday. A win for LSU could help them get back in to the Top 25. Then on Sunday, LSU takes on Rhode Island who has impressed me very much. Of these two games, I think both will be down to the wire.
I believe the favorite, Cincinnati, will win this tournament. Although I think Cincinnati will win, I really like Nevada and Western Kentucky and think both teams have a shot at winning the tournament as well. Valparaiso is a sleeper to look out for.
My top eight players to watch out for are Charles Bassey (Western Kentucky), Jazz Johnson (Nevada), Jarron Cumberland (Cincinnati), Javon Freeman-Liberty (Valparaiso), Zach Copeland (Illinois State), Chris Vogt (Cincinnati), Carson Williams (Western Kentucky), and Justin Turner (Bowling Green). Jarron Cumberland is one of the best players in this tournament and has been great for Cincinnati for the past three years. Charles Bassey and Chris Vogt are two skilled bigs and are probably the two best bigs in this tournament. Justin Turner, Zach Copeland, Jazz Johnson and Javon Freeman-Liberty are all high scoring guards that play great defense. Carson Williams is a transfer from Northern Kentucky. He has made an immediate impact for the Hilltoppers and can score from the outside.
2K Empire Classic
This tournament only has four teams that are competing at Madison Square Garden. But all four teams, are very talented. I believe the winner will be Georgetown. Most people are expecting Duke to win this, but I think Duke is a little overrated and will get upset by whoever wins the Texas vs. Georgetown game. California is also a team who has looked good to start the season.
My top six players to watch out for are Tre Jones (Duke), Mac McClung (Georgetown), Matt Bradley (California), Omer Yurtseven (Georgetown), Cassius Stanley (Duke), and Matt Coleman III (Texas). Tre Jones is one of the best point guards in college basketball and is the leader on this Blue Devils team. Cassius Stanley, Mac McClung, and Matt Bradley are all top scorers and can finish at the rim. Omer Yurtseven has played a huge part in helping turn this Georgetown team around from last season. Yurtseven is a transfer from NC State who has been playing great for the Hoyas.