Here at the Alabama Basketball Blog we believe in 24 hour coverage of our beloved Crimson Tide. That, or we're just insomniacs. Okay, maybe I'm the only insomniac on the staff. Long story short: I was up, saw this story, and decided to post it before settling in for my usual 4-5 hour nightly doze.
The Paradise Jam released their bracket for next season's event. Alabama will open against Seton Hall of the Big East at 7 PM (Atlantic Standard Time) on November 19th. The winner will play the winner of Xavier/Iowa.
Seton Hall is a team currently in a state of flux. Three players from the team (Jeremy Hazell, Herb Pope and Jeff Robinson - this season's top three scorers) are currently in the NBA draft, though Pope is the only one currently being projected as a draft pick (most projections have him as a late 2nd round pick). All three could return to school next season, but with coach Bobby Gonzalez being fired recently they may decide to cut their losses. Without at least one of these guys returning, next season could be a serious rebuilding job for new coach, Kevin Willard (formerly of Iona). If things stay as they are, you have to like Bama's chances in this match-up.
Quite honestly, this is a tournament that Bama may ultimately be the favorite in. Besides Seton Hall possibly losing players to the draft, Xavier is also dealing with the possibility of losing their star player, Jordan Crawford, to the NBA draft as well. However, Xavier has positioned itself as one of the top basketball programs in the country so they won't fall very far if Crawford were to leave.
Clemson could also be without some players in the wake of Oliver Purnell's decision to accept the Depaul job. Star recruit, Marcus Thornton, has decommitted from the Tigers and is now being actively pursued by a number of schools, including Alabama. Several returning players could also opt to transfer leaving Clemson in a bit of a bind next season. I still don't understand the logic in Purnell's departure.
Other teams in the field include a very dangerous Old Dominion team, an Iowa program that is on hard times, a solid mid-major in Long Beach and a St. Peter's team that is expected to contend in the MAAC next season. While Alabama will still have some questions about its overall talent level, and a lack of experience and depth at the point guard position, they should be able to match-up with any team in this field next season.