Boston College vs. Texas A&M
Texas A&M is off to a strong 3-0 start. Boston College is off to a 2-1 start, but the wins are against St. Francis (NY) and Holy Cross. The loss is to Yale—at home. Nobody was expecting Boston College to do much this season, but it is looking like it could be a long season for Eagle fans.
First off, Texas A&M is definitely more talented and more athletic. Secondly, although the Aggies are not a great shooting team as a whole, they have a couple of solid three-point shooters. Boston College really struggled in defending the perimeter against Yale. I would imagine that if Boston College has these same struggles, the Eagles will have no legitimate chance at beating Texas A&M.
My line: Texas A&M by 12
Wisconsin vs. Manhattan
Manhattan is a very mysterious team this year. Most of the Manhattan team from last year either left to tend to other issues or graduated. However, senior Andrew Gabriel, the leading returning scorer from last season, is off to a strong start. Newcomers Rhamel Brown, Kidani Brutus and Michael Alvarado have provided fresh sparks for the Jaspers.
Wisconsin definitely has more talent. Although the Badgers will almost definitely win this game, it would not be too surprising to see Manhattan stick with Wisconsin for longer than most would expect. Of course, I am most likely issuing a little bit of blind faith, but I have tried to remove my bias towards the Jaspers as much as possible. For the first time in a few years, the Jaspers have some talent on their team.
The main factor that will ultimately give Wisconsin this win with a little bit of breathing room down the stretch is that Manhattan has a very thin team. The Jaspers are under-manned due to injuries and the ineligibility of Demetrius Jemison. For the most part, the Jaspers have been playing only seven men. In a game against a more athletic team, the Jaspers would need to have more depth in order to keep up with Wisconsin for 40 minutes.
My line: Wisconsin by 16
Georgia vs. Notre Dame
Notre Dame and Georgia seem to match up pretty well. The deciding factor in this game will be that Georgia has had experience this year against better teams compared to Notre Dame's opponents. Not only have the Bulldogs played better teams, but they have also already experienced close games. In its last two games, Georgia has defeated Colorado and Saint Louis in fairly close games.
Notre Dame has played very mediocre mid-majors in all four of its first games, and the Fighting Irish have handled all four teams easily.
The matchup of Ben Hansbrough and Travis Leslie will also be key in this game.
My line: Georgia by three
Temple vs. California
This could definitely be the most exciting first-round matchup in the Old Spice Classic. Both teams have a couple of exciting guards and strong big men. California has guards Jorge Gutierrez and Gary Franklin to match up with Temple's Ramon Moore and Juan Fernandez. The Golden Bears have forwards Harper Kamp and Markhuri Sahnders-Frison to match up with the Owls' Lavoy Allen and Micheal Eric.
In a game where both teams seem to match up so evenly, this battle will be won at the foul line. To this point in the season, California and Temple have combined to make 61-of-100 free throws (61 percent). Since the Golden Bears have gotten to the line more often, they will have more chances to convert their free throws.
My line: California by four
Second Round—Loser's Bracket
Boston College vs. Manhattan
As I mentioned in a preview of the first round, Boston College has struggled with defending the perimeter. Manhattan is a mediocre mid-major that could make the Eagles pay for their defensive troubles.
The Jaspers have a three-point bomber in junior Kidani Brutus. Brutus is shooting 47.4 percent from beyond the arc on the year. In Manhattan's last game against Long Island, Brutus made five three-pointers. Mike Alvarado also has a sweet stroke from the perimeter, and junior forward Robert Martina is a minor threat from three-point range and a stronger threat on long jump shots.
In past years, Manhattan has had trouble against bigger schools because Manhattan has not had the size to compete. This year, Manhattan finally has some size in Rhamel Brown and Robert Martina. Also, although Boston College has some size, the Eagles big men are not the type of big men that can dominate the game in the post the way the Eagles need them to. Due to this, look for Manhattan to pull off the slim upset.
My line: Manhattan by two
Notre Dame vs. Temple
Look for big games from Lavoy Allen and Micheal Eric. These two Temple big men should be able to dominate in the post against a Notre Dame team that does not have a whole lot of size. If Temple can defend the perimeter and Notre Dame's sharpshooters, the Owls should be able to move to the fifth place game.
My line: Temple by nine
Second Round—Winner's Bracket
Wisconsin vs. Texas A&M
In what should make for an exciting game, Wisconsin should be able to pull out the win and advance to the championship game. Jon Leuer will be the key player in this matchup. The 6'10" Badger can play in the post and around the perimeter. If Leuer can score the way he usually does, Wisconsin will pull out the win.
My line: Wisconsin by six
Georgia vs. California
Most likely, Georgia forward Trey Thompkins will not play in this game. Thompkins has been out for the whole season so far, and he is listed as doubtful for the Old Spice Classic. This loss takes away a lot of Georgia's size. California's big men have to take advantage and get scoring down low. Of course, a monster game from Travis Leslie could always change the outcome.
My line: California by nine
Game for Seventh Place
Boston College vs. Notre Dame
Boston College just simply does not have what it takes to beat Notre Dame. The Eagles do not defend the perimeter well, and the Fighting Irish have a few strong three-point shooters. Notre Dame also has more size than Boston College.
My line: Notre Dame by 10
Game for Fifth Place
Manhattan vs. Temple
Temple has enough good three-point shooters that the Owls will be able to take advantage from beyond the arc against Manhattan's mediocre perimeter defense. The Owls also have more size, which will really hurt the Jaspers.
My line: Temple by 14
Texas A&M vs. Georgia
Once more, the loss of Trey Thompkins will be the difference between a Georgia win and a Georgia loss. Texas A&M does not have a lot of size, but Georgia's lack of a very good big man will give the Aggies an advantage.
Also, one of Georgia's strengths so far has been three-point shooting. Through three games, Texas A&M has done a good job defending the perimeter. If Georgia cannot get good looks from beyond the arc, it will have no chance at beating Texas A&M.
My line: Texas A&M by nine
Wisconsin vs. California
The deciding factor in this game will be three-point shooting. Both California and Wisconsin are solid from beyond the arc. Neither team has defended the perimeter particularly well. However, due to Wisconsin's slightly better three-point shooting percentage and slightly better three-point defense, it appears that the Badgers have the advantage.
California and Wisconsin match up pretty evenly in terms of size. However, the Golden Bears do not have a big man that is used to stepping out to defend the perimeter. Wisconsin forward Jon Leuer has the ability to play inside and outside. Look for Leuer to have a big game against California.
My line: Wisconsin by seven