The Charleston Classic tips-off at 11:30 am eastern on Thursday. This is the first of many early season tournaments we’ll see over the next few weeks. There is some quality competition as seven of the eight participants rank inside the top-150, according to Kenpom. Also, Xavier is now the favorite to win this tournament after Florida’s slow start.
Dates: November 21-24, 2019
Location: TD Arena, Charleston, South Carolina
Miami vs. Missouri State
Florida vs. Saint Joseph’s
Xavier vs. Towson
Connecticut vs. Buffalo
Teams, Part 1
The Musketeers are 4-0 coming into the Charleston Classic. They have taken their foot off the gas the last few games, despite their flawless record. They had to comeback against Missouri last week, and let Missouri State hang around, as well. Forwards Naji Marshall and Tyrique Jones have combined for an average 31 points and 14.6 rebounds per game. This is a tough front court to matchup with given they rank 41st in the country in height.
The struggles Florida is facing early this season are real. There hasn’t been much success on the offensive end outside of Virginia Tech transfer Kerry Blackshear Jr. According to Kenpom, they rank 302nd in effective field goal percentage, 321st in three-point percentage, and 233rd in two-point percentage. The Gators need to solve their issues quickly and pray their defense can slow teams down while the season is still young.
Despite their season-opening loss to Louisville, Miami has rattled off three straight wins. The Hurricanes have four players in double digit scoring, and limit turnovers on offense. However, the Hurricanes will trot out four guards at a time, and with Montana having the ninth best perimeter defense in the country, Miami will need to find success in the paint. Their defense should be able to force turnovers to help create points in transition.
The Huskies are off to a 2-1 start. Christian Vital leads the team averaging 19.3 points and 9 rebounds per game. UConn has struggled in two-point percentage despite having a center that averages 13.3 points per game. If UConn runs into a team that defends three’s well, then that could be their ticket to the consolation bracket. They rank 78th in defensive efficiency, so their defense shouldn’t be overwhelmed by anyone.
Teams, Part 2
Buffalo is a team that lives and dies by the perimeter. Not only do they rank in the top-75 in three-point percentage, they also hold teams to a 25.6 shooting percentage beyond the arc. Also, they still run their up-tempo just as Nate Oats engrained into Buffalo. However, they are one of the smallest teams in the country. If they are matched up with a team that has size, it could get ugly for the Bulls.
Towson comes into the Charleston Classic at 2-2. They are a fairly average team as they rank 145 on Kenpom. One advantage the Tigers have is their size, as they are a surprisingly large team for a mid-major. However, they rank 243rd in two-point percentage, and 213th in offensive rebounding percentage. This could be an issue for a team that’s just trying to keep it close against superior competition.
Don’t sleep on the Bears defense! Montana State has been holding teams to 56 points per game. Also, their defensive field-goal percentage ranks 57th, as their three-point defense is ninth in the country. Their biggest flaw is turnovers. They turn the ball over one out of four times down the court. If they can hang onto the ball, then they’ll be able to hang with any team in this tournament. Just ask Xavier.
Saint Joseph’s might be able to pull off the upset in the first round. The Hawks don’t have a great defense, but they 44th in two-point percentage allowed, according to Kenpom. They do allow a ton of three’s, but Florida has been one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the country. Saint Joseph’s might be able to keep this game close if they can hit their shots.
Florida and UConn should be concerned with their first opponent. Now, Florida is still a good team, they just have issues that need to be solved on offense. If they let Saint Joseph’s hang around though, it could get ugly in Gainesville. Also, Buffalo can give the Huskies a run for their money if they aren’t careful. If Buffalo can hit their three’s then there is a chance of pulling off the upset.
Potential semi-finals matchups
Most likely we’ll see Florida vs. Miami and Xavier vs. Connecticut in the semi-finals unless an upset occurs. Unless Florida figures out their offense, then Miami might be favored in that game. The Hurricanes limit turnovers and hit three-point shots. This will be a hard thing for Florida to come back on if things fall for Miami. UConn is not there yet. If we see Xavier vs. UConn, then Naji Marshall and Tyrique Jones will be too much to handle for the Huskies frontcourt. Xavier should take care of business here.
Potential finals matchups
Expect Miami vs. Xavier in the championship matchup. The Musketeers are the clear favorite in this tournament, and with how bad Florida’s offense has looked, Miami can most likely get around them if the face off in the semi’s. Xavier has such a good defense this year and rank 30th, according to Kenpom. They better hope they don’t get into a shooting contest with a team because their only weakness comes from hitting shots beyond the arc.