Two of the tourneys not affiliated with ESPN get underway on Wednesday. And it doesn’t come as a surprise that without the benefit of big-time TV, it is easier to lure elite teams to the Bahamas than to the tundra. Let’s start with the event that uses a texting abbreviation in its name and bills itself as a one-of-a-kind tournament. No justification is given for that claim.
Semis Final Champ UConn 87.1 62.7 39.9 Florida St. 84.3 67.5 36.6 Harvard 81.9 31.0 14.6 C of C 50.8 13.2 3.2 UCF 49.2 12.5 3.0 UMass 15.7 6.8 1.3 UNC Asheville 12.9 3.9 0.9 Utah 18.1 2.5 0.5
UConn is the favorite but figures to get a good test from Florida State or yes, Harvard, should the Huskies make it to the title game. After Saint Louis’s rout of Washington on Sunday, there were some whispers about the Atlantic-10 being superior to the Pac-12 this season. There should be a game between these two leagues in the consolation bracket involving UMass and Utah.
Now let’s look at the red-hot action in Anchorage, where somehow the Shootout survives despite struggling to bring teams in the top half of Division-I up north. For the purposes of this analysis, I’ve rated Alaska-Anchorage stronger than I did Chaminade. For one thing, Massey’s ratings support this. For another, unlike Chaminade, UAA plays on its actual home court here. And finally, I have to think that if you’re not from Alaska, being there in November might not be a pleasant experience, further amplifying the home advantage. I actually might be underestimating the Seawolves here.
Semis Final Champ Murray St. 82.6 56.5 31.3 New Mexico St. 82.1 49.1 28.0 Southern Miss 84.1 43.1 22.7 San Francisco 82.2 34.9 14.6 Alaska Anchorage 17.4 5.9 1.3 Central Michigan 17.9 4.8 1.2 UC Irvine 15.9 3.0 0.6 Dartmouth 17.8 2.7 0.4
Both Murray State and New Mexico State have started the season strong with four road wins between them. It wouldn’t be a stretch to see either of them snag the auto-bid from their respective conferences. And Southern Miss is coming off a 21-point win at Colorado State. So there’s some strength in the top half of the field. Alaskans, I command you: Get to Sullivan Arena. Support this tournament! (The first round might be kind of boring, though.)