I am on my annual college basketball season kickoff tour of the East Coast. The first event was last Thursday night with the 2K Sports Classic at Madison Square Garden featuring Oregon State vs. Alabama and Villanova vs. Purdue. Friday night we headed over to Brooklyn to see the new Barclays Center and the Coaches vs. Cancer event. Florida State beat BYU and St. Joseph’s outlasted Notre Dame in overtime.
Saturday morning I was off to New Haven, CT to catch a few games of the National Prep Showcase. In the afternoon, about an hour drive took us to the Mohegan Sun Casino for the Hall of Fame Tournament. Ohio State had a tougher than anticipated game against Rhode Island and Washington beat Seton Hall in overtime. Sunday morning we were back at the National Prep Showcase. In the afternoon we drove back to the Mohegan Sun for the championship round of the Hall of Fame event. Ohio State won the title topping Washington behind 31 points from Deshaun Thomas. Rhode Island let a late eight-point lead get away as Seton Hall escaped with a five-point win.
Tonight and tomorrow is likely the best event of the week, the Progressive Legends Classic back at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. #1 Indiana faces a tough Georgia team followed by Shabazz Muhammad’s first appearance for UCLA as they play Georgetown. Back to Manhattan on Wednesday night for the Preseason NIT semi-finals. The Pitt-Michigan match-up highlights the event preceded by Kansas State vs. Delaware. Then it’s home for Thanksgiving.
Some impressions of all the action:
- All of the 2K Sports Classic teams: Alabama, Oregon State, Purdue and Villanova will need to improve to finish in the top half of their respective conferences. Oregon State was set back by the season-ending knee injury to starting center Angus Brandt.
- St. Joseph’s topped the Fighting Irish with leading scorer Carl Jones suspended for violating team rules. With Jones in the starting lineup the Hawks are an NCAA team and will challenge for the Atlantic 10 title. They have a solid front court and enough perimeter skill to cause trouble for anyone.
- Deshaun Thomas should start moving up on draft boards as the season progresses. Ohio State will be in the mix along the top of the Big Ten.
- Washington will need to improve defensively to get near the top-4 of the Pac-12. They have talent but are not playing well so far this season as is evident by their loss to Albany at home.
- It will be a long year for Rhode Island but Danny Hurley has them all playing hard. Next season the Rams could have the most improvement in win-loss record of any team in the country.
- Over 30 NBA scouts and front office personnel are at the Barclays Center tonight to watch potential top 2013 NBA draft picks Cody Zeller (Indiana) and Shabazz Muhammad (UCLA) as well as likely first-rounder Otto Porter (Georgetown).