Jeff Eisenberg ranked the NCAA preseason tournaments from most to least intriguing and the Legends Classic came in a 11th out of 12. The only tournament ranked below the Legends Classic was the Cancun Challenges which features just two high-major schools and few intriguing mid majors.
The Legends Classic follows the recent NCAA trend of automatically advancing a certain group of host schools to the final rounds. In this case that means that Syracuse, Michigan, UTEP, and Georgia Tech all receive free passes to Atlantic City. Albany, Bowling Green, Detroit, Gardner-Webb, Mercer, Niagara, Western Carolina, and William & Mary will get together in regional rounds and face off versus each other.
At first glance, the field looks intriguing. Syracuse, Michigan, and Georgia Tech are all big name programs and UTEP made an NCAA appearance and won the Conference USA last season. When you start to look a little closer, excitement begins to wane. All four squads lost at least one player to the NBA this summer. That includes Michigan’s Manny Harris, Syracuse’s Wes Johnson and Andy Rautins, UTEP’s Derrick Caracter, and Georgia Tech’s Derrick Favors and Gani Lawal. If any of those players were on their old teams, they might be the the preemptive favorite to win MVP of the tournament.
Of the schools involved, most haven’t quite started the new season on the right foot. Georgia Tech was already upset by Kennesaw State. Jim Boeheim is telling anyone that will listen that Syracuse is “not a good team right now” and they were almost upset by William and Mary. UTEP opened the season with a loss to Pacific. It’s fair to say all four teams involved have a number of question marks entering the weekend.
We preview every team involved in the Classic, which tips off Friday evening on HD Net, after the jump.