Inside the Bracket: Wooden Legacy preview
Teams: Miami-Fla, George Washington, Marquette, Fullerton, Charleston, San Diego State, Creighton, Arizona State
Favorites: Marquette / Creighton – Finding a favorite in the new-look Big East is a tough task. Marquette and Creighton are two of the teams considered for that position. In a field without an otherwise clear-cut favorite, we’ll give the Golden Eagles and Bluejays top billing. Creighton finished off its first two weeks with a victory over Tulsa, but the Bluejays best win is the roadie at St. Joseph’s. Offensively, Creighton is a fine-tuned machine, ranking among the best in the nation in scoring, assists, and field goal percentage. Marquette is like a reverse reflection of the Jays. Thus far, the Golden Eagles rank near the bottom of Division 1 in field goal percentage and scoring. They make up for it with tenacious defense and rebounding.
Contender: Arizona State – It’s interesting that ASU hosted Marquette on November 25 (a two-point ASU victory). They could meet again as the Sun Devils and Golden Eagles are on opposite sides of the bracket. In the opening two weeks, ASU has proven to be a balanced team in several offensive categories; they rank high nationally in points, rebounds, and assists. Jahii Carson can carry the Sun Devils; he’s averaging 23 points a game and is hitting over 50-percent of his three-point attempts.
Biggest Opportunity: San Diego State – The Aztecs entered the season as an NCAA bubble team (according to our preseason s-curve). It’s hard to learn much in two games (vs. DI opponents), but if SDSU’s showing against Arizona (a 69-60 loss) is any indication, Steve Fisher’s rebuilding effort appears on track for another potential bid to March Madness. That said, it’s a long journey to Selection Sunday. If the Aztecs can beat Charleston in the opener, they’ll get either Creighton or Arizona State in the semifinals. Both provide an opportunity to put a quality neutral-court victory on the board.
Best Opening Matchup: Creighton vs. Arizona State – An easy choice. The final game of the night should be one of the best. Watching Doug McDermott and Jahii Carson go it will be entertaining and potentially spectacular. The winner should have a date with San Diego State – which provides another quality-win opportunity. The loser could easily leave Southern Cal without much for its resume. Both teams can fill it up, so expect a high-scoring game.
Action begins at 12:o0 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. Nothing like some good hoops between turkey and maybe a little football.