Early Season Tournaments Establishing NCAA Tournament Possibilities

Jimmy SmithCorrespondent INovember 30, 2008

The thrill of watching college basketball is at its climax during the NCAA Tournament in March.  You know, watching the Cinderella's like George Mason, Gonzaga, and Rhode Island over the years advancing as far as the Elite Eight and Final Four.

The energy and excitement of the early spring games is impeccable.  The crowds, the atmosphere, the buzzer beaters can not be touched by any other sport in the world.  Hey college football, forget the BCS, get on the tournament bandwagon.

I took interest in many of the college basketball games on television while I stuffed my face with turkey and pumpkin pie.  There was no time to sleep, basketball was on.  There were many entertaining games. 

Tennessee-Georgetown, Syracuse-Kansas, Kentucky-West Virginia, Oklahoma-Purdue and Texas-Notre Dame all had the ingredients to be a pivotal March game.  All went down to the wire, and had the crowds buzzing the entire game.

The early season tournaments have also produced some upsets that we may see in March; Maryland upset No. 6 Michigan State, and Michigan upset No. 4 UCLA.  No. 3 Louisville also went down to 2008 Cinderella Western Kentucky, despite not participating in a preseason tournament.

What is to make out of all the tournaments? 

After the tournaments we found out how good North Carolina is, as they steam rolled Notre Dame, Oregon, and Chaminade in the Maui Invitational.  Blake Griffin from Oklahoma is emerging as the best player in the country, leading his Sooners to the Preseason NIT Championship in the Garden.

Other early tournament winners were Gonzaga (Old Spice Classic over Tennessee), Duke (2K Classic over Michigan), Syracuse (CBE Classic over Kansas), Xavier (Puerto Rico Tip Off over Memphis), Kentucky (Las Vegas Invitational over West Virginia), and Pittsburgh (Legends Classic over Washington State).

The tournaments have provided a spark to the college basketball season.  They also have given some teams quality wins for their NCAA Tournament resume.  Yes, we are already thinking towards March.

After the Tournaments, my Top Ten looks like:

  1. North Carolina Tar Heels
  2. UConn Huskies
  3. Gonzaga Bulldogs
  4. Oklahoma Sooners
  5. Pittsburgh Panthers
  6. Duke Blue Devils
  7. Texas Longhorns
  8. Louisville Cardinals
  9. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
  10. Xavier Musketeers