There aren't many higher distinctions than naming anything college basketball-related after John Wooden. The Wizard of Westwood, who passed away three years ago this past June, is as close to royalty as one can get within the sport.
So when the Wooden Classic (now the Wooden Legacy) was founded, those involved with the event knew it had to be something special. While the event has undergone fits and starts since 1994—most notably with the switch to new ownership—the Wooden Legacy is now an event befitting of the scope of its namesake.
Originally a doubleheader of games rather than a typical tournament, the 2013 Wooden Legacy will take on a more traditional form. There are eight schools—Miami, George Washington, Marquette, Cal State Fullerton, Charleston, San Diego State, Creighton and Arizona State—participating over the weekend in a three-day event housed on ESPN's family of networks.
The deviation is a slight disappointment, considering UCLA won't participate for the first time since 2002 and just the fourth time in the Wooden Legacy's 19-year history. Nonetheless, the more traditional format should make for a more enjoyable experience for fans. People folk to these early-season tournaments because they not only pit many top-tier programs against one another, but also due to the fact they give us the most organic results possible. There's a winner. There's a loser. And then there are a bunch of other teams we don't care about.
So, in other words, it's a perfect primer for March. And a great way to honor Wooden, perhaps the greatest winner in coaching history—college or professional.
With that in mind, here's a complete preview of the 2013 Wooden Legacy.
When: Thursday, Nov. 28 to Sunday, Dec. 1
Where: Titan Gym in Fullerton, Calif. and Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.
Watch: Various ESPN Networks (see chart below)
|Game No.||Matchup||Date||Time (ET)||Watch||Stream|
|1||Miami vs. George Washington||Nov. 28||2 p.m.||ESPNU||WatchESPN|
|2||Marquette vs. Cal State Fullerton||Nov. 28||4:30 p.m.||ESPN2||WatchESPN|
|3||Charleston vs. San Diego State||Nov. 28||8:30 p.m.||ESPNU||WatchESPN|
|4||Creighton vs. Arizona State||Nov. 28||11 p.m.||ESPN2||WatchESPN|
|5||Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2||Nov. 29||3:30 p.m.||ESPN/2||WatchESPN|
|6||Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2||Nov. 29||6 p.m.||ESPN3||WatchESPN|
|7||Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4||Nov. 29||9:30 p.m.||ESPN2||WatchESPN|
|8||Loser Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4||Nov. 30||12 p.m.||ESPNU||WatchESPN|
|9||Loser Game 6 vs. Loser Game 8||Dec. 1||2 p.m.||ESPN3||WatchESPN|
|10||Winner Game 6 vs. Winner Game 8||Dec. 1||4:30 p.m.||ESPN3||WatchESPN|
|11||Consolation (Third Place)||Dec. 1||6:30 p.m.||ESPNU||WatchESPN|
|12||Championship||Dec. 1||9:30 p.m.||ESPN2||WatchESPN|
Are You Ready for the Doug McDermott Show?
If you haven't heard of Doug McDermott, first of all, welcome to college basketball fandom. We're glad to have you. But even if somehow you've been living under a rock for these past few years or only pay attention to major-market teams, don't worry. When Creighton makes the NCAA tournament this March, you'll have your fill and then some of McDermott bloviation.
Every super original columnist will use McDermott as their A1 comparison to the one-and-done likes of Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins and Julius Randle. McDermott is the kid who stayed. He's the coach's kid who does everything the right way, the "best player you've never heard of" and all those other cliches that lazy writers like to go on and on about. I'm just warning you now.
But before you go rolling your eyes and writing McDermott off, realize that this is unfair. Because watching the Creighton forward play college basketball is awesome. McDermott heads into the Wooden Legacy scoring 27.5 points per game and doing so with jarring efficiency. Despite opponents scheming their entire plans to stop him, McDermott is knocking down 55.1 percent of his shots and has knocked down half his attempts from beyond the arc.
This isn't a fluke. McDermott's points and efficiency from beyond the arc have crept up every season, to the point where NBA teams will consider him in the first round next June despite being a minus athlete and an average defender. He's built very much in the same mold as former Creighton great Kyle Korver, with the very real possibility of being an even better scorer at the next level.
For now, though, the 2013-14 season is all about just how far he can push the Blue Jays in his senior campaign. Creighton is a member of the new Big East, a basketball powerhouse in its inaugural season. Coming into this event, the Blue Jays are also the highest-ranked squad in the field, though they're not a massive favorite.
Still, even if Creighton goes down—and it's definitely a possibility with a matchup against Arizona State coming in the opening round—three games watching McDermott do his thing on the national stage should be fun.
Can Marquette Score Enough to Compete?
Theoretically, Marquette is supposed to be the second-best team in this tournament. The Golden Eagles are ranked No. 25 in the latest Associated Press poll, the only other ranked squad other than Creighton. They're also placed on the opposite side of the bracket, meaning that the organizers at least somewhat envisioned a Marquette-Creighton final way back when the matchups were set.
But does anyone have any faith in Buzz Williams' squad at this point.
The Eagles are 3-2 following their loss to Arizona State in one of the tournament's regional matchups on Monday, and have struggled mightily to yield consistent offensive production. Ohio State held them to an embarrassingly low 35 points on Nov. 16, and at the Bradley Center no less.
Excluding an anomaly against Grambling, Marquette's offense has been even more of a train wreck than it was at points last season. The team ranks among the nation's worst in offensive efficiency. While Williams' defensive scheme and the Eagles' athletes on the perimeter make them a menace to score against—they're again well inside the Top 10 in defensive efficiency—a team can't subsist being completely bereft on the offensive side.
Marquette has nearly fallen to both Southern and New Hampshire already this season. It'd be a surprise if actual upsets weren't coming down the pike. Todd Mayo has been dismal in taking over the primary scorer's role when he's on the floor, and not too many people have been willing to help out. Ranking outside the Top 300 in team field-goal percentage is a quick way to suddenly be looking at upset city.
The Eagles are also getting no production from beyond the three-point line. Only three players (Mayo, Jamil Wilson and Jake Thomas) have taken 10 or more shots from beyond the arc. None of them are making even a third of their attempts. As a team, the Eagles were shooting just over 18 percent heading into their game against the Sun Devils.
Things might look up come march. For now, Marquette's offense has enough flags to cause a bull stampede.
And Then There Was Everyone Else
We can try to squint our eyes and cock our head sideways to make it happen, but the reality is that only five of the eight teams have a shot at winning. Cal State Fullerton and Charleston are merely the cost of doing business, and Miami is in the midst of a retooling phase after losing a majority of its contributors from last season's ACC champion.
Among the three schools not previously given their own section, you could talk yourself into any of them winning.
George Washington in particular has been a surprisingly fun team to watch thus far. The Colonials are neither a great offensive team nor lockdown defenders, but do well enough on both ends and get efficient outputs from their most vital talent. Each of their top five scorers are shooting at least 52 percent from the floor, and four of the five are over the 60-percent mark. It's been a longish road back to relevancy, but George Washington could compete in the revamped Atlantic 10.
Arizona State, meanwhile, probably deserved a first-round cupcake over Miami. The Sun Devils have stormed out of the gate on the back of jitterbug point guard Jahii Carson, who has been lights out from anywhere on the floor thus far. Carson is joined by 7'2" senior Jordan Bachynski, fast becoming one of the nation's more reliable double-double machines.
And then there's San Diego State. Led by Steve Fisher, who has essentially built this program from the ground, the Aztecs already nearly upset Arizona and look reloaded despite losing top scorer Jamaal Franklin to the NBA and his right-hand man Chase Tarpley to graduation. San Diego State grinds you with its athleticism and relentless style, and JJ O'Brien has done an excellent job in his new role this season.
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