Old Spice ClassicBracket
Date: Nov. 22-23, 25
Teams: Clemson, Davidson, Gonzaga, Marist, Oklahoma, UTEP, Vanderbilt, West Virginia
Overview: This is one of those events where the relative lack of marquee teams and the general balance should make for a good tournament, albeit one that might not help the winner all that much. Gonzaga may be the nominal favorite but there are a number of teams in the field good enough to pip the Zags. The top half of the bracket, with West Virginia, Davidson and a rebuilding Vanderbilt, looks to be the better side, but Oklahoma and (especially) Clemson should have something to say in the bottom half.
Matchup to watch: Davidson-Vanderbilt. Brand recognition says to favor the Commodores here, but with Vandy having suffered significant personnel losses and Davidson bringing back a very good team, it would be surprising if the Wildcats were not favored in this game. This is one of those classic mid-major teams peaking with a bunch of seniors, including inside-outside big man Jake Cohen. It wouldn't be a shock at all to see a Davidson-Gonzaga final, with the Wildcats also picking off West Virginia.
More from Scott Henry:
Davidson returns every player who averaged more than seven minutes per game last season.
Forwards De'Mon Brooks (pictured) and Jake Cohen form one of the best frontcourt duos that the casual fan has never heard of, while guards J.P. Kuhlman and Nik Cochran have a marked size advantage over the Zags' Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr.
The matchup between Brooks and Elias Harris could be almost as fun as the potential second-round tussle between Cohen and Murray in the semifinals.
In the end, Davidson has a full lineup of shooters, including the 6'10" Cohen. If Gonzaga hasn't ratcheted its perimeter defense up to last season's level, the Wildcats could snipe their way to a pair of huge non-conference victories. Those could prove invaluable in case Davidson stumbles in the Southern Conference tournament.