After both teams won their semifinal games at the CBE Classic in blowout fashion, Missouri (4-0) and California (4-0) should have a stiffer challenge on their hands as they play for the championship in Kansas City. Neither team has much of an issue with playing fast. but given their roots in the "40 Minutes of Hell" system used by former coach Mike Anderson the Tigers could be at an advantage if the pace becomes frenetic.
In-season tournaments can be tricky to analyze when the dust settles. Sometimes the winning team can build on the experience and move on to bigger and better things, with last year's Connecticut team (Maui Invitational champs) being a prime example. Others, like Minnesota (last year's Puerto Rico Tip-Off champs) can temporarily hide flaws that get exposed later in the season. Essentially these early season results should be taken with a grain of salt, because while we see flashes of teams in reality it's a small sample size.
Much has been made of Long Beach State playing five non-conference opponents who were ranked in the Top 15 of the major preseason polls. Many wondered how Dan Monson's team would navigate such a slate in spite of the fact that this experienced group went through a similar schedule last season. If Wednesday night showed anything about the 49ers it's that they're ready for the challenge, as they handed Pittsburgh its' first loss in November or December at the Petersen Events Center in the history of the arena.
The Gonzaga Bulldogs have some impressive offensive performers that Washington State likely made themselves very aware of in preparation for their game at midnight. Elias Harris and Robert Sacre are formidable frontcourt players while Marquise Carter is a jet-quick point guard who is more than willing to attack defenses. But if the Cougars had a plan for how to slow down freshman guard Kevin Pangos it sure didn't look like it.
ESPN's 24-hour college hoops tipoff marathon will get off to a good start at midnight as rivals Washington State and Gonzaga meet at The Kennel in Spokane. The Cougars have embarked on life without Klay Thompson and DeAngelo Casto, and while that means they've got a lot of scoring to account for Ken Bone's got some established returnees back to lead a solid recruiting class. As for Gonzaga, the best news for them may be the health of junior foward Elias Harris.
Xavier star Tu Holloway headlines CollegeHoops.net's Preseason Mid-Major All-America teams. He's joined by fellow seniors Andrew Nicholson of St Bonaventure and Drew Gordon of New Mexico. With the likes of Xavier, Temple, New Mexico, Gonzaga, and Memphis all capable of making runs in March, this could be a banner year for the Non-BCS conference schools.
Friday marks the first big day of the college basketball season with more than 100 games on the schedule. Sure most of the games look to be of the "opening sacrifice" variety, but a closer look reveals some intriguing matchups. It only makes sense to begin with the game that needs little introduction, the Carrier Classic game matching preseason national title favorite North Carolina and Michigan State. The game will be played on the USS Carl Vinson in San Diego, which will likely cue a few "I'm on a boat" jokes.
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