The 2K Sports Classic is always one of the better early season events. This year, the four-team field is once again exceptional with a pair of NCAA tournament caliber teams, Connecticut and Indiana, expected to meet in the championship game. Boston College is a third team that could wind up dancing in March.
The semifinals will be played Thursday starting at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2. The consolation will be at 5 p.m. ET on Friday on ESPNU, with the championship game following on ESPN2.
UConn enters at 4-0 and is coming off an underrated win against Boston University, the Patriot League favorite and one of the nation’s top mid-majors. The Huskies open the tournament against a 1-3 Boston College team that is better than its record, but they will still be a solid favorite.
UConn has as good of a starting as you will find in college basketball.
Point guard Shabazz Napier leads the Huskies in the three major statistical categories with 13.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 7.8 assists per game. He had a double-double against Yale with 14 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists, and in the other games he came close to achieving that task as well. In addition, Napier is shooting 50% from the field, 85.7% on three-pointers, and 84.2% from the foul line.
Combo-guard Ryan Boatright is averaging 12.8 points and 4.3 assists through four games while shooting 53.8% from beyond the arc.
Indiana (4-0) gets to face a struggling Washington team in the semifinals in its first matchup against another BCS school. The Hoosiers have a lot of new and inexperienced pieces on this year’s team, but so far they have looked quite good.
Sophomore point guard Yogi Ferrell has become more aggressive on the offensive end, averaging 19.5 points, and he has still been a great distributor with 4.5 dimes per game and a 2:1 assist to turnover ratio.
Freshman forward Noah Vonleh has lived up to hype, averaging a double-double through four games with 14.8 points and 12.5 rebounds per contest. Washington does not have a lot of size, so don’t be surprised if Vonleh posts his fifth-straight double-double on Thursday night.
Fellow frosh Troy Williams is also off to a hot start with 10 points, 5.5 rebounds, and two steals per game.
3. Boston College
Boston College (1-3) has had a rough start to its season, to say the least. The Eagles opened up with losses to Providence and Massachusetts and then dropped a close one to Toledo in their home opener. In their most recent game, they nearly lost to Florida Atlantic but ultimately survived by three points.
The Eagles have the talent to win this tournament with players like Olivier Hanlan, Ryan Anderson, and Joe Rahon.
Hanlan is a pure scorer, averaging 24.5 points on 50% shooting to start the season, and he can stretch defenses with 41.7% three-point shooting. Rahon is also a deep-threat at 43.8%.
Anderson anchors the Eagles’ frontcourt. The junior is averaging 16.3 points and 6.3 rebounds.
Washington (2-1) has played three home games and struggled in all of them. The Huskies squeaked by Seattle, then were manhandled by UC Irvine, and then needed a second-half run to defeat Eastern Washington.
With the way they’ve played so far, their trip to New York may not be so entertaining.
Although Washington is thin in the frontcourt, it has a deep, talented backcourt. C.J. Wilcox leads the team with 16.3 points per game, freshman Nigel Williams-Goss is off to a good start with 13.7 points and 5.3 assists, Andrew Andrews is averaging 13.7 points, and Darin Johnson and Mike Anderson can both be relied on for an extra boost.