The Orlando Invitational tips-off Thanksgiving day. This is one of the last early season tournaments to begin, but should be just as exciting as some of the other we’ve seen so far. Maryland is the favorite to win, but Marquette will have a say before it’s all said and done. Also, Harvard got back a star player from injury that could have a big weekend in Orlando.
Dates: November 28/29 – December 1, 2019
Location: HP Field House, Orlando, Florida
Maryland vs. Temple
Texas A&M vs. Harvard
USC vs. Fairfield
Davidson vs. Marquette
Teams, Part 1
Maryland comes into this tournament with one of the youngest teams in the country. They are off to a 6-0 and starting to gain momentum, but they haven’t been really tested this season. Jalen Smith leads the team in points and assists, as their offense ranks ninth in efficiency, according to Kenpom. Their defense has been more impressive as they have held team to 58.8 points per game.
The Golden Eagles have are being led by their star guard Markus Howard who is averaging 21.3 points per game this season. Howard is their go-to guy as he is one of the best players in the country. Marquette has one of the best three-point shooting teams in the country. However, they rank 317th in turnover percentage, which may be an issue down in Orlando.
The Orlando Invitational is going to important for USC to build their resume up. The Trojans currently rank 59th in Kenpom, and will need to have an impressive win this week to give them a boost. USC is an all-around quality team. They don’t do anything bad, but they don’t have a true advantage either. One thing they could work on is their free-throw shooting. They rank 218th in that, which will be huge in big games.
Davidson comes into this tournament losing three of their first five games. Their offense has been fine so far, but their defense has been subpar. They rank 124th in defensive efficiency, but rank 296th effective field-goal percentage, according to Kenpom. Also, Davidson ranks 311th in rebounding percentage. They have major flaws that need to be addressed, and it’ll show down in Orland.
Teams, Part 2
Temple is off to a nice 4-0 start with an impressive win over USC. The Owls get it done on defense as the hold teams to 61.3 points per game. However, their offense is pretty weak. Temple’s effective field-goal percentage ranks 290th in the country. Any team that has a solid defense is going to limit their opportunities. One good thing is they don’t turn the ball over, but they need to find better shots.
The Aggies are another team that come into Orlando struggling on the offensive end. They’re 3-1 and have played some sloppy games that included 49 points against Gonzaga, and 56 points against Troy. They rank 304th in effective field-goal percentage, and 253rd in turnover percentage, according to Kenpom. Texas A&M wins their games with defense and need to do so this week.
The Crimson offense revolves around guard Bryce Aiken. Aiken just returned from injury and has averaged 25 points in his two games back. Their offensive efficiency does rank 79th in the country, so this team is capable of hitting shots when needed. However, their three-point defense is one of the worst in the country, ranking 333rd, according to Kenpom. Harvard can win a game or two in Orlando.
This might be a long week for Fairfield. They head to Orlando 1-4 on the season, and are rated 279th in the country, according to Kenpom. The Stags don’t really excel in anything as they rank in the bottom third in college basketball in the four factors. However, they rank 45th in free-throw shooting so there’s a plus.
USC and Maryland should move passed the first-round. Temple’s defense may give the Maryland trouble, but the Terrapins should be fine. Davidson has a good enough offense to hang with Marquette, and they should force quite a few turnovers on defense. Their defense is pretty bad, and Marquette can hit three’s so they should prevail. I do think Harvard can get the best of Texas A&M. Bryce Aiken is the real deal for the Crimson, and will carry this Harvard team through the tournament.
Potential semi-final matchups
As nice of a story Harvard may be in this, Maryland is too dominant of a team for them to handle. They should be in the finals this week as they are favored to win the tournament. Marquette should also get passed USC, and honestly if Davidson is playing in the semi’s I can see them getting passed USC as well. Both teams matchup well in the semi’s and the winner of Marquette/Davidson should go to the championship game.
Potential final matchup
Marquette and Maryland will most likely meet up in the finals where I think Maryland will win it all. They have the best squad in this tournament, and don’t have any deficiencies that would cost them. Davidson could even make it here, as mentioned above, but their defense would probably cost them a win. If Bryce Aiken goes off, he could carry Harvard to the finals as well, but that seems very unlikely. The Terrapins should win the Orlando Invitational.