Actually, I believe it's being billed as the "Advocare Invitational" this year. I can't keep up with all of the corporate sponsors of these events. Which reminds me, corporate sponsorship is evil....but I digress.
File this news under "maybe" as these match-ups have not been officially announced, but Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports, whose life appears to revolve around eating at restaurants and college basketball (I'm envious), tweeted that the match-ups for this event have been set.
Alabama will meet Xavier in the first game of the event. Xavier won 23 games a year ago, advancing to the Sweet 16. They've also beaten Alabama the last two seasons as part of a home-and-home series. The early projections have them returning to the NCAA tournament. Even though Xavier has beaten Alabama the last two seasons, and will probably be the favorite here, I think our guys have a chance to compete in this game. Regardless, Alabama will face stiff competition all three days. It should give us some indication of what this team is capable of.
The other game on Alabama's side of the bracket will feature Gregg Marshall and Wichita State against USC. Obviously, the failed courtship of Gregg Marshall by Alabama would add some intrigue, should Alabama and Wichita State meet. USC is hoping to make some moves in Andy Enfield's third season at the school, while Wichita State could be a preseason top 10 team when the season tips off.
The match-ups on the other side of the bracket are Notre Dame/Monmouth and Dayton/Iowa. Notre Dame was the ACC tournament champion last season and played its way to the Elite Eight before narrowly losing to Kentucky. They lost some star power from last season, but are expected to remain a capable team in the ACC. Monmouth won 18 games last season, and hope to be a contender in the MAAC conference. Dayton has thrived under current head coach Archie Miller, playing in two straight NCAA tournaments. They are expected to be one of the favorites for the A-10 title. Fran McCaffery enters his sixth season at Iowa. In five seasons he has taken Iowa to two NIT's and back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances. They should be no worse than middle-of-the-pack in a strong Big 10 conference.
Any thoughts or predictions on the games? Please share them.