College basketball fans looking for some games to watch over the holiday weekend leading up to Christmas Day are in luck. The fourth-annual Diamond Head Classic will begin on Saturday and carry through Christmas night.
The tournament features two ranked teams. Arizona is undefeated and ranked No. 4, behind only Duke, Michigan and Syracuse. San Diego State checks in at No. 18 with just one loss, which came against the Orange in the season opener.
Ole Miss, Indiana State, San Francisco, East Tennessee State, Miami and Hawaii, the tournament hosts, round out the eight-team field. The champion will join USC, Butler and Kansas State as winners of the relatively new event.
Here's a glance at all the important information for the Diamond Head Classic, followed by a tournament schedule and a trio of teams to watch starting on Saturday afternoon.
Where: Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu, Hawaii
When: Saturday, Dec. 22 – Tuesday, Dec. 25
Watch: ESPN2 and ESPNU
Live Stream: ESPN3.com
|Game 1||Ole Miss vs. Indiana State||Dec. 22||4 p.m.||ESPNU|
|Game 2||San Diego St. vs. San Francisco||Dec. 22||6 p.m.||ESPNU|
|Game 3||Arizona vs. East Tennessee St.||Dec. 22||10:30 p.m.||ESPNU|
|Game 4||Miami vs. Hawaii||Dec. 23||12:30 a.m.||ESPNU|
|Game 5||Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2||Dec. 23||3 p.m.||ESPNU|
|Game 6||Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2||Dec. 23||5 p.m.||ESPNU|
|Game 7||Loser Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4||Dec. 23||9 p.m.||ESPNU|
|Game 8||Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4||Dec. 23||11:30 p.m.||ESPN2|
|Game 9||Loser Game 5 vs. Loser Game 7||Dec. 25||2 or 4:30 p.m.||ESPN3|
|Game 10||Winner Game 5 vs. Winner Game 7||Dec. 25||2 or 4:30 p.m.||ESPNU|
|Game 11||Loser Game 6 vs. Loser Game 8||Dec. 25||7:30 p.m.||ESPN2|
|Game 12||Championship Game||Dec. 25||9:30 p.m.||ESPN2|
To see a complete bracket view of the event, click here to visit the tournament's official site.
Teams to Watch
Arizona has racked up nine wins, and only three of those came by single digits. The Wildcats have been dismantling overmatched opponents for the most part. One of the close games came against Florida, a fellow Top 10 team.
The Wildcats were down by six with a minute to go before rattling off seven straight points in the final 56 seconds to pick up their first marquee win of the season. They followed it up with an easy victory over Oral Roberts. So they should enter with plenty of momentum.
Mark Lyons, Nick Johnson and Solomon Hill are the team's three leading scorers. They are all within one point per game of each other, with Lyons leading the way at a shade under 14. That depth bodes well in a tournament setting.
San Diego State Aztecs
The Aztecs are led by dynamic guard Jamaal Franklin. He leads the team in both points and rebounds, and he ranks second in block shots, illustrating tremendous versatility. He can literally do it all, and that's a big edge for San Diego State.
Franklin is listed as questionable by USA Today for the tournament opener, however, which could thrown a wrench into the team's title hopes. He's dealing with a back injury that kept him out of Tuesday's win over Point Loma (D-II).
If Franklin is unable to go, the onus will fall on Chase Tapley and Xavier Thames to lead the way. While they would be a formidable scoring duo, it's tough to imagine the Aztecs challenging for the title without their biggest star.
Even though Arizona and San Diego State are the top contenders, Miami is a solid sleeper. The Hurricanes were stunned by Florida Gulf Coast in their second game, but have bounced back nicely, even beating then-No. 13 Michigan State.
They have five players averaging at least 10 points per game. Durand Scott tops the charts at 16 points per game thanks to an extremely efficient 59 percent shooting mark. Reggie Johnson is averaging a double-double with two blocks to lead the post brigade.
One thing working against the Hurricanes is depth. It's a crucial factor when playing three games in the span of four days. Beyond the top five, nobody else on Miami's roster averages more than six points.
If their top scorers can excel on short rest, the Hurricanes have a chance.