Inside the Bracket: Puerto Rico Tip-Off
None of us can predict how the college landscape will look in January, let alone March. But early-season and holiday tournaments provide us some juicy match-ups we might not otherwise see. Opportunities await to put neutral-court wins on resumes.
In this edition of Inside the Bracket, let’s take a peak at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off:
Favorite: Michigan – The Wolverines lost a second-half lead in Ames and fell to the Iowa State Cyclones. Losing a road game in a tough environment – in Mitch McGary’s first game (back issues) – isn’t that concerning. A consensus Top 15 team to open the season, Michigan remains the favorite here, assuming McGary’s back is okay and he provides valuable minutes. If Michigan meets VCU in the semifinals, it will be interesting to see how the Wolverines handle VCU’s relentless pressure without Trey Burke at the helm.
Contenders: VCU, Georgetown – Many around the country believe this is Shaka Smart’s best – and perhaps deepest – team at VCU. It’s conceivable that the Rams will have to beat Florida State, Michigan, and Georgetown to win the tournament. Do that, and VCU will leave Puerto Rico with some significant momentum. Georgetown might be better than we think; who knows, the Hoyas might be the best team in the re-aligned Big East. What we do know is that Georgetown gave Oregon a good fight in South Korea and dominated preseason Horizon favorite Wright State in the States.
Biggest Opportunities: Florida State / Kansas State – How will the Seminoles fare in the ACC? Is FSU an NCAA tournament team? That won’t be decided in November, but an opening date with VCU – followed by a potential game with Michigan – gives FSU a chance to make an early statement. Kansas State opened its season by losing at home to Northern Colorado. Nothing would help erase that memory more than capturing a couple of quality wins. Before a likely matchup with Georgetown, the Wildcats need to beat Charlotte.
Best Opening Matchup: Florida State vs. VCU – Little debate on this one. Kansas State-Charlotte is important to both teams because the loser most likely misses out on the chance to garner a memorable win, but it lacks the intrigue of two teams that want to get after it on defense.
Action begins at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday (Nov. 21). Nothing like some college hoops with a late breakfast or early lunch.