Where Have You Gone, Monster Early Season College Hoops Tourney?

We spent some time talking about both marquee and off-the-radar games for the upcoming NBA season over on The Baseline today, but many of the matchups for those made-for-TV college hoops tourneys were also announced today. (Note: This is an indication of my interest level in baseball. I'm actually already skipping ahead to basketball.) ↵
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↵In all, pairings for five tournaments were unveiled throughout the afternoon on ESPNEWS. But for made-for-TV events, these things don't quite have the same punch fans are used to. Even in what was a pretty mediocre regular season last year, we were tantalized with the prospect of Notre Dame, Texas and North Carolina in the same tournament field. You won't find any sexy lineup like that in these five tournaments, but there are some decent potential matchups in semifinals and finals of events if you look a little bit closer: ↵

↵Puerto Rico Tip-Off Semifinals: Georgia Tech vs. Villanova. Assuming these two teams move on, you've got some fun in the form of a potential Final Four team -- Nova -- going up against a monster frontcourt from the Jackets. Gani Lawal came back to school and Derrick Favors (No. 3 in the Rivals 150) lands on campus at Tech. Sure, Nova probably wins easily, but it's a great early season test for a group that will be tested throughout conference play in the ACC. ↵

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↵76 Classic Semifinals: UCLA vs. Butler. When Jrue Holiday decided to join the exodus of seniors, things got a little tougher on Ben Howland. But these are two teams expected to be in the mid-teens of the polls. Gordon Hayward created a lot of buzz this summer with the U-19 team, too, so this will be a high-profile game for both himself and Matt Howard to establish themselves on the national scene early in the year. Also good from this field: If West Virginia makes it to the final and faces one of these clubs, that's a nice sleeper early-season game. ↵

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↵Old Spice Classic Semifinals: Xavier vs. Michigan. In a case of another bracket being sort of weak on one side and loaded on the other, this could serve as the unofficial final of the event. Sure, Xavier is hurt by the loss of Derrick Brown, but the team is still loaded. Maybe not as top-10 worthy as they were with Brown, but this is one of those games that will be a nice notch for someone's resume. ↵

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↵And I'm not intentionally ignoring Maui, which was announced today as well, but Gonzaga is the only remotely interesting team to me in that field. Too many other teams in that field are experiencing down years. Maryland was a tournament team, but it doesn't scream "meaningful tournament clash" like some games would in the past. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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