2017-18 MTE and Neutral Site Showcase Preview Series: Jimmy V Classic

Kevin Ollie will look to guide his team to a win over Syracuse in the 2017 Jimmy V Classic on December 5th in New York. (Header: ESPN Events)

CALGARY, Alta. — The 2017-18 season is just around the corner, and while there’s a debate on Twitter as to when the season actually starts, it can’t get here soon enough.

Schedules are being released with each passing weekday, and many of them feature early-season tournaments and multi-team events all throughout non-conference play. According to Chris Dobbertean and Blogging the Bracket, there are over 30 multi-team tournaments, and another handful of neutral site showcases and non-exempt events.

So, with the season coming up, we thought we would go through and preview all of the early-season tournaments, the non-exempt tournaments, and a wide array of the neutral site showcase events. In total, we will preview 75 different events over the course of the next 75 days, culminating on opening day.

We selected the events at random, and have broken some up into two pieces, like the Phil Knight Invitational, since there are two separate brackets.

Today, we take a look at the Jimmy V Classic.

Event: Jimmy V Classic
Location: Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
Dates: December 5th, 2017
Number of Teams: Four
2016-17 Winner: N/A


2016-17 Edition in Review

The 2017 edition of the Jimmy V Classic marks the 23rd edition of the showcase event that honours the memory of Jimmy Valvano. He lost his battle to cancer back in 1993, and the event raises money for The V Foundation. Since its inception, over $150 million has been raised.

Last season saw a talented Duke Blue Devils team, led by Luke Kennard and Grayson Allen, take on a Florida Gators team who burst out of the gate with a 7-1 record prior to the event. In the end, Duke had too much talent on their roster, and their balance of experience and youth carried them to an 84-74 victory.

In the other match-up, the nationally-ranked Purdue Boilermakers took on the Arizona State Sun Devils. Six different Boilermakers reached double-figures in scoring on the night, and Purdue rolled to the 97-64 win over the Sun Devils.

On paper, this year’s field should provide a pair of closely contested games for fans all across the country to enjoy.


2017 Field

Villanova Wildcats, Gonzaga Bulldogs, Syracuse Orange, and Connecticut Huskies

The 2017 field will be filled with a ton of talent, and it features a pair of teams who have advanced to the National Championship over the last two seasons.

In one match-up, fans are treated to a showdown between the 2016 National Champions and the 2017 National Champion Runner-Ups. Jay Wright and the Villanova Wildcats take on Mark Few and the Gonzaga Bulldogs, and while both teams will look considerably different than they did a season ago, they will both be near the the top of their respective conferences.

Villanova has the talent to make a legitimate run at the 2018 National Championship. The Wildcats return a core group of players, led by a National Player of the Year candidate in Jalen Brunson, The 6’3” guard averaged 14.7 points and 4.1 assists per contest, while also shooting 54.1% from the field.

Add in a healthy Omari Spellman, who missed all of last season due to injury, and the Wildcats have one of the top rosters in the country. Fellow returnees like Mikal BridgesDonte DiVincenzo, and Eric Paschall give Wright a ton of depth at his disposal, which is bad news for the rest of the Big East.


Their opponents on December 5th were the runner-ups in the 2017 National Championship game. Mark Few and the Gonzaga Bulldogs lost their fair share of talent, especially in the front court, but have a team that is expected to contend in the West Coast Conference yet again in 2017-18.

The losses of Przemek Karnowski and Zach Collins up front will undoubtedly hurt the team. Add in the departure of Nigel Williams-Goss, who recently signed to play professionally in Serbia, and the Bulldogs will need others to step up in a big way.

Sophomores Rui Hachimura and Killian Tillie are the top two candidates for the Zags to take on larger roles this season. Hachimura was a star at the FIBA U19 Championships this summer for Japan, and made a name for himself on the national stage. Some were hesitant to buy in on the hype surrounding the second-year forward, but we’re on the hype train.


In the other match-up, a pair of former rivals square off, as Jim Boeheim and the Syracuse Orange pair up with Kevin Ollie and the Connecticut Huskies.

Earlier this week, the Orange were dealt a big blow to their chances in 2017-18, as forward Taurean Thompson announced that he was withdrawing from the University of Syracuse and leaving the program. When you add in the fact that the Orange lost their top two scorers from last season, and six of their top seven overall, and it’s tough to see the Orange contending in the ACC.

Guard Tyus Battle is a top-tier talent, but he can’t carry the team on his own. Guys like Frank Howard and Paschal Chukwu will need to step up in a big way for Syracuse to have a chance this season, let alone against Connecticut.


The Huskies are a team who could turn some heads this season in the American Athletic Conference, as they look to get back into the upper echelon of teams in the NCAA. Red-shirt freshmen Alterique Gilbert and Hamadou Diarra will definitely provide a big boost on both ends of the court.

Connecticut picked up a pair of commitments from David Onuorah and Antwoine Anderson this off-season as graduate transfers. Onuorah will add experience and depth to the front court, while Anderson gives the Huskies a nice second option at the point guard spot.

The offense runs through junior guard Jalen Adams, who is one of the top scorers in the conference. He averaged team-highs in points and assists last season, putting up 14.4 points and 6.1 assists per contest. Look for Adams to have another big year, and lead Connecticut on a run towards the AAC crown in 2017-18.


Schedule

Gonzaga Bulldogs v. Villanova Wildcats

Syracuse Orange v. Connecticut Huskies


Predictions

Gonzaga Bulldogs v. Villanova Wildcats
Winner: Villanova

Syracuse Orange v. Connecticut Huskies
Winner: Connecticut

– T. Bennett