Fairbanks, AK - Hosted by the University of Alaska Fairbanks, seven Division I teams from the “lower 48” will be joining UA’s Nanooks in the spectacle held at the Carlson Center which has become a popular D-I event.
Akron, the Mid-American East regular-season champion and an NCAA tournament team except for a last-second desperation shot, won 26 of 33 games last season and will be considered an early favorite in the TOWC with three of its first five scorers returning.
Has there been a more unpredictable start to the season in recent memory? A Preseason NIT final of Butler and Gonzaga...how many people picked that one? Butler, in wins over Indiana and Tennessee, has played stifling defense and got some timely baskets when needed. Their best offense of the three-game run to the final was in their overtime win against Notre Dame, a game in which the Fighting Irish shot 48% from the field themselves. Maybe being able to see that they can beat solid competition with offense and defense can be seen as a positive for the Bulldogs. As for the Bulldogs from Spokane, is Josh Heytvelt something else or what? He missed a lot of games the past two seasons due to injuries, so many people don't know of his actual skill set. Yes, a lot has been mentioned about him (especially early last season), but the average fan probably lost sight of him after he hurt himself in the Maui Invitational final against UConn. Well, he's back and healthy. Brandan Wright was able to do some things for UNC in the semifinal Wednesday night, but the Heels play as well as Tyler Hansbrough does, and Heytvelt did an excellent job of containing the preseason National Player of the Year candidate.