Thursday, July 30, 2009

2009 Puerto Rico Tip Off -- An Early Look

Reviewing the Field
The field for the O'Rielly Auto Parts Puerto Rico Tip Off was announced in May via a press release, relatively early compared to the 2008 Philly Classic, which did not announce all eight teams in the field until the middle of July (not an official announcement incidently, but instead a note in Jeff Goodman's blog). The Philly Classic did not formally announce the brackets and games until nearly the beginning of the season, leaving the individual teams to announce their preliminary round games as part of the press released of their team schedule. The Puerto Rico Tip Off tournament, sponsored by O'Rielly Auto Parts and televised by ESPN, is a bit ahead of several other early season invitationals, but they have still not announced the seeds and early round pairings. Rumors suggest a press release, within the next 2 weeks, will set the brackets and quarter final round games, so I think now would be a good time to take a look at the field and speculate a bit about the seeds and 1st round (the quarter final round...) pairings.

2009 Season2009
Boston U17130.567161166Am East17NA
Dayton2780.7712778A109NCAA/Rd 2
George Mason22110.6675188CAA14NIT/Rd 1
Georgia Tech12190.38713993ACC1NA
Indiana5250.167216212Big Ten2NA
Kansas State20110.6458044Big 124NIT/Rd 2
Villanova3080.7891314Big East3NCAA/FF

The alphabetically correct listing of the field identifies the participants, their 2009 overall record, rankings (RPI & Ken Pomeroy), conference affiliation (and the conference's RPI ranking) and any post season activity for the school. The tournament, relatively cosmopolitan -- 5 of the 6 power conferences have a representative -- nevertheless draws from those mid-major conferences located in the northeast and Middle Atlantic regions (the American East, Atlantic 10 and Colonial Athletic Association Conferences), relatively convenient travel for those fans who have an inclination to take in a 3 day Thanksgiving tournament.

The usual procedure for the tournament promoter is to seed the field to develop the brackets and subsequent matchups. The criteria for seeding? Most likely the RPI/Pomeroy rankings or the team's 2009 record (and post season record) will be used to sort out the field. Seeding by RPI or Pomeroy's Ratings would set the field in this way...

Seed by...
George Mason34
Kansas St.42
Georgia Tech65
Boston U.77

Villanova will most likely be the #1 seed in the field, the Big East conference, 2009 record and finish (Final Four) are the strongest credentials in the field. I have a problem with Indiana as the #8 seed however (and frankly with Dayton as the #2 seed, even though the Flyers were a strong finisher last season and an early favorite to win the A10 this season...they are not a power conference team). A quarter final round game that matched Villanova and Indiana would have an interesting Big East story line, as Indiana Coach Tom Crean was the head coach at Marquette before moving over to take the Indiana job. Villanova coach Jay Wright has a 1-2 record versus Crean. That matchup however, is unlikely. Even though the Hoosiers will not be one of the top 4 teams, they will, with Georgetown transfer Jeremiah Rivers eligible this season and Top 100 recruits Christian Watford and Maurice Creek slated to suit up, will not be the weakest team in the field. Most likely Indiana, along with Boston U and George Mason will be seeded somewhere in the #5 through #8 (with the Hoosiers very unlikely to be seeded #8). Which means the Wildcats will most likely draw either Boston University or George Mason. Former Jay Wright (at Villanova) assistant Pat Chambers took over the coaching duties at Boston U, so again there is a story line for that matchup. Factoring in conference affiliation, 2009-10 projections and 2009 recruits, I suspect the seed will look something like this...

2Kansas State
3Georgia Tech
6George Mason
8Boston U.

The winner of Villanova/Boston U. (ok...Villanova) would face the winner of the Dayton/Mississippi game. As I wrote earlier, Dayton is an early favorite in the Atlantic 10 conference with Coach Brian Gregory returning a senior-dominated Flyer squad that went to the 2nd round of the 2009 NCAAs, notably taking down West Virginia of the Big East in the 1st round. The Flyers will be led by 4 of last season's returning starters, including 4 year starter 6-10 center Kurt Huelsman, A10 Honorable Mention (senior) guard Marcus Johnson and junior All A10 2nd team Chris Wright. Andy Kennedy's (coached a single season at Cincinnati) Mississippi team returns SEC freshman of the year Terrico White who also played on the Jamie Dixon-coached squad that won the U19 Championship in New Zealand this summer. Andy Kennedy's squad also boasts Nick Williams, an Indiana transfer who should be eligible for 2009-10. The Kansas State team will boast 4 returning starters from their 22-10 squad, and welcome Top 100 recruit Wally Judge. Georgia Tech Head Coach Paul Hewitt (another former Villanova assistant coach) will bring a Yellow Jacket squad that spotlights senior guard/forward D'Andre Bell, sophomore #1/#2 guard Iman Shumpert and 3rd team All ACC bf Gani Lawal. To this group Hewitt will add McDonald's and Parade Magazine All American Derrick Favors, a power forward who will team with Gani Lawal to form one of the ACC's dominant front courts in 2010.

No comments: