The 2015-16 college basketball regular season officially gets under way on Friday, November 13th, with over 150 games across the college basketball landscape to finally satisfy our cravings for NCAA hoops.
This season promises to be one full of excitement mixed with a little bit of drama along the way. With so many great teams across the country, this season will be a wide open race towards Houston and the national championship.
Over the next few days, leading up to the day that the season starts, we will be taking a look at 10 of the top story lines for the upcoming season. While they all may not feature the biggest programs in the country, these are headlines that will be talked about over the course of the season and can alter several conference races down the stretch.
Story Line #6: Tons of Talent on Display in the Early-Season Tournaments!
When preseason tournaments and showcases work their way into conversations, plenty of big time events come to mind with marquee teams participating, which in turn leads to some intriguing match-ups that you may not get a chance to see otherwise.
The Wooden Legacy? Yes please! The Maui Invitational? Heck yes. How about the 2K Classic or the Champions Classic? Yes and Yes!
These four events are just the tip of the iceberg. According to the website Blogging the Bracket, there are 42 early-season events for the 2015-16 season. Some are played on neutral courts, while some are hosted by particular institutions and see teams play three games in as many days.
With so many programs partaking in these events, and so many events to choose from, it’s tough for the casual fan to pick exactly which event to watch.
That’s where we come in. Below, you will find a handful of the must-follow early-season events.
Note: we didn’t include the Champions Classic, the Battle 4 Atlantis, the NIT Season Tip-Off, or the Wooden Legacy because if you aren’t already following those events, your priorities are in the wrong order.
Legends Classic – November 23rd – 24th
The Legends Classic is an event you will want to follow for two reasons. The first focuses on the Subregional pairings, which will take place on the home floor of Kennesaw State. There is the potential for a Belmont – Kennesaw State showdown, which would pit Belmont’s Craig Bradshaw against Kennesaw State’s Yonel Brown. It’s an underrated guard showdown, mainly because Yonel Brown doesn’t garner much attention playing for the Owls, but that would be worth the price of admission if it were to happen.
In the main bracket, the semi-finals pit LSU against Marquette, and two of the top freshmen will duke it out. You can’t ask for much more in a match-up when Ben Simmons and Henry Ellenson line up on opposing teams. With NC State and Arizona State in the other pairing, this is an underrated field that will excite from start to finish.
Gulf Coast Showcase – November 23rd – 25th
The Gulf Coast Showcase is an eight-team field that is filled with mid-major programs from all across the country. Eight different conferences are represented, so you will get a wide array of talents on display.
The two most intriguing teams are the Pepperdine Waves and the Central Michigan Chippewas. The teams are on opposite sides of the bracket, meaning a date in the finals could be in the makings. With Pepperdine, look no further than forward Stacy Davis for the team’s heartbeat. He’s an impact player on both ends of the floor for the Waves, and the team itself will be a sleeper pick in the WCC in 2015-16. The majority of their players have played together for the better part of three seasons, and they’re ready to shine this year. As for Central Michigan, they return all five starters from a team that finished first in their MAC division a year ago. The Chippewas are projected to win the conference title this season, and the likes of Chris Fowler and John Simons will do everything they can to ensure that happens.
Add in Weber State, with their duo of Joel Bolomboy and Jeremy Senglin, the Milwaukee Panthers and the Duquesne Dukes, and the tournament will give fans some evenly matched basketball games that they may not expect to get from this low-profile showcase.
Advocare Invitational – Nov. 26th – 29th
The 2015 Advocare Invitational has several intriguing points in the opening round, and the season hasn’t even begun. One of the opening round match-ups features the Iowa Hawkeyes taking on the Dayton Flyers, and both teams have their issues heading into their showdown in Lake Buena Vista, FL. The Dayton Flyers will be without Dyshawn Pierre due to suspension, as he will miss the first 10 games of the season. The team will need to look elsewhere for offense in this contest. On the other side, the Iowa Hawkeyes lost to Augustana, a Division II school, in their only exhibition game, 76 – 74. While it was only exhibition, it creates more cause for concern for the team heading into the year. It’ll be interesting to see how both teams have prepared in the early parts of the season in advance of their battle.
Also, the tournament gives us all the possibility of a Wichita State – Notre Dame rematch from last year’s NCAA Tournament, where the Fighting Irish knocked off the Shockers in the Sweet 16. Jerian Grant is gone for Notre Dame, but Demetrius Jackson is back and ready to battle Ron Baker and Fred Van Vleet.
Emerald Coast Classic – November 27th – 28th
The Emerald Coast Classic is a must-watch for the sole possibility of one thing: an Iowa State – UAB rematch. If you remember, last season the Blazers shocked the Cyclones in the opening game of the NCAA Tournament, as the #14 Blazers took down the #3 Cyclones. If nothing else, the possibility of that rematch makes this entire event must-watch television.
Challenge in the Music City – November 26th – 29th
Any event that the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks are in is a must-watch. The ‘Jacks have reigned supreme in the Southland Conference over the past three seasons, and look like the team to beat again this season. They are taking part in a Round Robin event, the Challenge in the Music City, against the likes of Tulane, Appalachian State, and Western Michigan. It’s a low profile event, but the Lumberjacks are the prize attraction. Western Michigan will give them fits in their match-up on November 26th, but don’t be surprised to see the Lumberjacks go 3 – 0 over their three games.
Spartan Showcase – November 27th – 29th
If you’re a die-hard college basketball fan like we are, you’ll watch this event for the sole purpose of watching to see how UNC Greensboro fares without Tevon Saddler. Earlier this week, the Spartans’ leading scorer allegedly “quit” the team, leaving the Spartans searching for options on offense with a week before their season opener. By the time the Spartan Showcase rolls around, they”ll have a few games under their belts to get things sorted out. The IPFW Mastodons, Jacksonville Dolphins, and Navy Midshipmen all bring their talents to Greensboro, NC for a highly competitive round robin event.
As you can see, there are plenty of early-season events ans tournament to satisfy your appetite for great college basketball action as the season gets rolling towards the gauntlet known as conference play.
These events will pair teams against one another in showdowns that you may not otherwise see for years at a time. They bring excitement to the basketball, from the marquee events down to the smaller scale, round robin events.
No matter which event(s) you choose to watch, chances are you won’t be disappointed!