The 2013 Diamond Head Classic promises to be one of the more exciting tournaments this holiday season. This Hawaii-based event begins on Dec. 22 and runs through Christmas night, giving fans a number of games to enjoy along the way.
While the eight participants may not be traditional powerhouse programs, there is one ranked squad in the field and a handful of teams that could be playing a role come March Madness.
No. 17 Iowa State is the favorite and only team currently found inside the Associated Press Top 25 Poll, but Saint Mary’s is lurking in the “others receiving votes” category and could catapult into the rankings with a solid performance in this event.
Keep reading for a look at the rest of the field, a showcase of the complete schedule and some pointers on what to watch for during the 2013 Diamond Head Classic.
When: Sunday, Dec. 22 through Wednesday, Dec. 25
Where: Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu
Watch: ESPN2 and ESPNU
Live Stream: WatchESPN
|Sun, Dec 22||5:30 p.m.||Iowa State vs. George Mason||ESPNU|
|7:30 p.m.||Oregon State vs. Akron||ESPNU|
|11 p.m.||South Carolina vs. Saint Mary’s||ESPNU|
|1 a.m.||Boise State vs. Hawaii||ESPNU|
|Mon, Dec 23||2:30 p.m.||Consolation #1||ESPNU|
|4:30 p.m.||Semifinal #1||ESPNU|
|9 p.m.||Semifinal #2||ESPN2|
|11:30 p.m.||Consolation #2||ESPNU|
|Wed, Dec 25||1:30 p.m.||7th-place Game||ESPN3|
Predicted Winner: Iowa State
The Cyclones are off to an impressive start to the 2013-14 season, going 8-0 ahead of their appearance in this tournament. Those wins aren’t all coming against inferior competition either, as this group has knocked out Michigan and Iowa, both of which were ranked at the time.
While Big 12 play starts up soon and Iowa State is sure to start losing at least a few games, this team has certainly proven it is a legit contender and will be a factor in the conference title race—as well as the upcoming NCAA tournament.
Much of the credit is due to the Cyclones' high-scoring, fast-paced offense that features stars who are more than willing to share the ball. The Cyclones lead the nation in points scored (90.9 per game) and assists (19.8 per game), while also banging hard in the paint and pulling down 44.9 rebounds per game, the sixth-best mark in the country.
Senior forward Melvin Ejim leads all scorers with 18.7 points per game, while also contributing 7.7 boards, 2.0 dimes and 1.2 steals. With four other players on the roster averaging double digits, there is always someone capable of picking up the slack if Ejim or anyone else is struggling.
Head coach Fred Hoiberg took the time to talk with David Ubben of Fox Sports Southwest and spoke about how his current crop of players has handled every challenge it has faced:
The thing that I've loved about this team is how well we've handled adversity. We've had double-digit deficits in four games and we've found a way to come back and win. That's the thing I've been most proud of with this team, is how they've continued to battle, continued to fight and find a way to get wins at the end of the game
ISU has a number of close wins in 2013, including a two-point victory over BYU, an overtime win against Northern Iowa and a late rally to overcome rival Iowa on Dec. 13.
Ben Schuff of the Piedmont Citizen noted that the Cyclones are still a “little brother” to the Hawkeyes, as the student body rushed the court following the “W” despite being the higher ranked team.
You know Iowa State is little brother when its basketball team is ranked higher than Iowa's & students rush court after winning. #Hawkeyes— Ben Schuff (@BRSchuff) December 14, 2013
This group clearly has the heart required to make a run in the Diamond Head Classic. It’ll definitely face a tough road to the championship, which begins with George Mason on Sunday.
Will Iowa State win this event?
Should the Cyclones get past the Patriots, they would face the winner of Oregon State and Akron’s tilt. It’ll be interesting to see who makes it past the other side of the bracket, but Saint Mary’s seems to be an ideal candidate.
Don’t be surprised if the Gaels and Cyclones end up meeting in the championship come Christmas, putting on a heck of a show and leaving fans on the edge of their seats.