The Myrtle Beach Invitational will start their bracketed games on Thursday. They did have two play-in type games as Villanova knocked off Ohio, and Coastal Carolina bested Middle Tennessee. This really is Villanova’s tournament to lose. Baylor can give ‘Nova a game, but Villanova is the most dominant team in this tournament.
Dates: November 21-24, 2019
Location: HTC Center, Conway, South Carolina
First-round matchups: Villanova vs. Middle Tennessee, Mississippi State vs. Tulane, Baylor vs. Ohio, Utah vs. Coastal Carolina
Teams, Part 1
This Wildcats team runs through Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, as the freshman forward averages 14.3 points and 10 rebounds per game. Villanova did have a slip up against Ohio State, but this team is still very good. Six players average over 10 points per game, but beyond those six, they don’t have much depth. However, Villanova can shoot lights out and are strong on the glass thanks to Robinson-Earl.
Baylor is one of those teams that lives and dies by the three. They rank 25th in three-point percentage, according to Kenpom. Defensively, they rank 15th in efficiency, and have been forcing turnovers quite a bit, as they rank 57th in turnover percentage. Jared Butler has been their go-to scorer early this season. He’s averaged 21 points per game, and is the tone setter for the Bears.
The Bulldogs are the third tallest team in college basketball. This has helped them on the glass as they rank first in offensive rebounding percentage, according to Kenpom, and 23rd in two-point percentage. They are one of the most turnover prone teams in the country, so if they do run into a pressure-style defense, then it could be a long game for Mississippi State. Tulane is capable of forcing turnovers.
The Utes might have the best interior in this tournament. They rank third in two-point percentage, and holding teams to the ninth lowest shooting percentage inside the perimeter, according to Kenpom. Utah has two players that are over seven feet, and a forward in Timmy Allen that leads the team with 8.3 rebounds per game. Utah and Baylor could be an interesting second-round matchup.
Teams, Part 2
Coastal Carolina has a strong team offensively; they hit their shots, limit turnover, and clean up the glass. However, their defense can be a liability. They rank 229th in defensive efficiency, and 298th in three-point defense, according to Kenpom. The Chanticleers have been a bit inconsistent to start this season off as well. They lost their opening game to Campbell, but have beat Middle Tennessee.
The Bobcats started off with a non-bracketed game against Villanova, and it didn’t go well. They shot 3-20 from beyond the arc in their 78-54 loss to the Wildcats. Now, they have to bounce back against a solid Baylor squad. Ohio’s offense is sub-par and have turned the ball over a decent amount this season. There’s little evidence that they’ll be able to pull off an upset in this tournament.
Middle Tennessee does one thing well, and that’s shooting three’s. They 16th in three-point percentage, and have two guards that shoot over 50 percent beyond the arc. Their up-tempo offense makes it difficult for teams to keep up with if they aren’t used to it. However, they are pretty mediocre across the board in other categories, and lack height. If a team wants to pull off an upset, they need to hit three’s.
The Green Wave is the bottom barrel team in this tournament. Their efficiency on both ends of court isn’t great, but they are 81st in effective field goal percentage. They also rank 25th in the country in forcing turnovers, according to Kenpom. That is the one aspect they matchup well against Mississippi State. If they can force turnovers and hit shots, they might keep the game close.
The opening matchups are interesting, but all the favorites should prevail. Middle Tennessee hitting three’s and Tulane forcing turnovers should concern Villanova and Mississippi State, but nothing that the top teams can’t handle. Expect Villanova, Mississippi State, Baylor, and Utah all to make it to the semi-final round.
Potential semi-final matchups
Utah vs. Baylor will be the better of the two matchups if we get them and Villanova vs. Mississippi State. Villanova should handle the Bulldogs, as they are the best team in this field. Baylor perimeter offense will keep them in the game, but Utah will dominate the post and the boards. There shouldn’t be a surprise if the Utes pull off the slight upset. Baylor already had one meltdown this season.
Potential finals matchup
This tournament is Villanova’s to lose. They are the best team with the best coach, and should take care of business, especially after already having an embarrassing loss on the schedule. The Wildcats do matchup better against Baylor than Utah. The Wildcats can limit Baylor’s three-point shooting as they are the all-around better team. For Utah, the Utes can rebound just as well as Villanova, and create better shots. They are also a better interior team than Villanova. The matchup between Timmy Allen and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl would be fun to see.