Tonight tips off one of the longest running annual preseason tournaments, the 22nd installment of the 2K Classic Benefiting the Wounded Warrior Project. Once again it features four marquee teams from four major conferences, both games can be seen on ESPN2.
7pm – Pittsburgh vs. SMU: Pittsburgh comes off an NCAA Tournament appearance as a 10 seed that lost in the first round to Wisconsin. And you remember that SMU was banned from all postseason activity last season and lost Larry Brown as their head coach in the offseason. New coach Tim Jankovich looks for his first big win as the Mustangs full-time head coach. The best matchup to watch in this game is Pitt’s Jamel Artis against SMU’s Semi Ojeleye. Both are 6’7″ and are aggressive in the paint, but can knock down mid-range jump shots. Ojeleye, the Duke transfer, scored 26 and grabbed 14 rebounds in the Mustangs season opening win over Gardner-Webb. But his matchup will be much tougher tonight against Artis. Also watch for Pitt’s Michael Young, he is an NBA talent who will probably lead tonight’s scoring. Prediction – Pittsburgh by 5 or fewer.
9:30pm – Marquette vs. Michigan: An exciting midwest matchup brings the incredible offense of Michigan against an emerging threat in the Big East. Marquette already dominated Vanderbilt in their season-opener with a 24 point win. Michigan has three premiere scorers in Walton, Irvin, and Abdur-Rahkman, Walton so far is 7-14 from behind the arc. But Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski and his squad are a tough team defensively led by Luke Fischer in the paint and Jajuan Johnson in the backcourt. Johnson is averaging 3.5 steals per game and has also really stepped up on offense for Marquette, leading the team with 17.5 points per game. Although both teams are unranked for the moment, this feels like a possible 8-9 matchup in the big dance. Prediction – Marquette by 1 or 2, possibly in overtime.
Tournament Champion Prediction: Marquette knocks off Pitt. This is going to be a big year for Marquette as they reassert themselves in the top department of the Big East.