The 2K Classic kicked off last night in what is being dubbed Bubbleville, at the Mohegan Sun Resort and Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut. The tournament was shaken up just a couple of days before the start of the event, as the Baylor Bears pulled out of the tournament late and were replaced by the Rhode Island Rams. This gave us first-round matchups between the Rams and the Arizona State Sun Devils and the Villanova Wildcats and the Boston College Eagles.
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— Empire Classic (@EmpireClassicBB) November 23, 2020
In their season opener, the Sun Devils looked like they were going to blow out the Rams as they built an early double-digit lead. But Rhody hung in there and made a game out of it late, eventually taking a second-half lead. The game was tied at 86 points apiece with under three minutes left to play, but Marcus Bagley was able to put the game away for Bobby Hurley’s team with some clutch late free throws to give Arizona State a 94-88 win.
On the other side of the bracket, the Villanova Wildcats started their season out with a win after a slow start. Boston College led by as many as nine points in the second half, but Villanova would not be denied, as they finished the game on a huge run to win by a final score of 76-67. Villanova was led by Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, who dropped a double-double with 18 points and 10 boards. For today’s free daily betting pick, we will stay right here in Bubbleville for the finals of the 2K Classic between Arizona State and Villanova!
- Arizona State Sun Devils (1-0) at Villanova Wildcats (1-0)
- Uncasville, Connecticut
- 6:30 PM PST
- TV: ESPN
Arizona State Sun Devils (1-0)
The Arizona State Sun Devils have the best team they have had in Bobby Hurley’s tenure as head coach. They have a superstar senior leader point guard in Remy Martin, and they have two of the best freshman in the country in Marcus Bagley and Josh Christopher. The Sun Devils are one of the top teams in the PAC-12 and will compete with Oregon and UCLA for the PAC-12 regular-season title.
The Sun Devils got the job done yesterday, but I really hated what I saw from them in the second half. They were clearly the more talented team, and after seeing how mediocre they looked when they let the Rams come back on them after being up 15 points, they are lucky they didn’t have to play Baylor like they were supposed to, as they would have gotten blown out.
They allowed Rhode Island to shoot 50% from 3-point range and 52% from the field, and tonight against a far superior shooting team like Villanova, the Sun Devils are going to have to find a way to defend better. This team has a lot of upside potential, but they will need to find a way to play better at both ends of the floor tonight if they want to knock off a legit national title contender like Villanova.
Villanova Wildcats (1-0)
It took a big run late in the second half to get the job done, but once this team got going yesterday, we got a glimpse of just how good they can be. Collin Gillespie is expected to be one of the best point guards in the country this year, and while he didn’t have a great shooting game, he was just 5-16 from the field, he did score 15 points, and his assist to turnover ratio of 7-1 was elite.
The guy that I was really impressed with last night for Villanova was Jeremiah Robinson-Earl. Robinson-Earl could be a Big East player of the year candidate this season after nearly averaging a double-double last year as a freshman. Against BC, he dropped 18 points and 10 rebounds in just 26 minutes of play. The Wildcats are the prohibitive favorites in the Big East this year, and they could be a Final Four team if Robinson-Earl does what many people think that he is capable of.
Who Do I Like?
Neither of these teams looked overly impressive last night. Both struggled for long stretches of action against inferior teams. But it was opening night, so I am not going to judge either team too harshly on their performances. One thing that I will judge Arizona State on though, is their ability to play without Romello White. White was the team’s leading rebounder last season and decided to grad-transfer to Ole Miss in the offseason.
The Sun Devils sorely missed their best big man down low and had to settle for a lot of jump shots. The Sun Devils are at their best when they are scoring in transition, and when they are forced to slow things down and play a half-court style offense, they really have to rely on Remy Martin to do nearly all of the scoring. That’s not a terrible thing, as Martin is a more than capable scorer that could lead the nation in points per game this season, but in this game, where he will be matched up with Collin Gillespie, he could struggle.
I am not going to lie. I am a little disappointed that this isn’t a game between Baylor and Villanova today. That would have been a two versus three matchup between two teams that I absolutely love this season. I am not hating on Arizona State, but as they say, there are levels to this game, and Villanova and Baylor are both on a higher level than Arizona State.
The young guys provide a lot of upside for the Sun Devils, but at the end of the day, I am not sure how they are going to be able to slow down Jeremiah Robins-Earl. The Sun Devils sure wish they had Romello White back, who would have matched up with him well. And when I look at the matchup at point guard, I like Collin Gillespie.
Remy Martin is one of the most exciting players in the nation, and he is devastatingly good off the dribble and creating his own shot. But there might not be a better perimeter defender in the Big East than Collin Gillespie. With Arizona State needing 20+ points out of Martin tonight if they want to hang with this high scoring Villanova team, I am not sure he is going to be able to get to the rim with ease like he can against so many other defenders.
Happy Thanksgiving, hope you're all hungry for a second helping of great college basketball! pic.twitter.com/qOc9s0EsiK
— Empire Classic (@EmpireClassicBB) November 26, 2020
It is hard to call a team underrated when they are ranked 3rd in the nation, but I do feel that this Villanova team isn’t getting as much attention as they deserve right now. They have all the pieces of a national championship team, and I think they are going to dominate in the Big East. I would have loved to have seen them tested against Baylor, but alas, that wasn’t meant to be. Instead, they get a softer matchup against a game, but clearly outmatched, Arizona State Sun Devils team.
I see Villanova dominating near the rim and winning the rebounding battle. If you don’t let Remy Martin get good looks, he is prone to taking bad shots anyway. He is talented enough that some of them are going to go in, but at the end of the day, I see Martin as taking, and missing, way too many shots with Gillespie all up in his business. Without Martin scoring a bunch of points, I don’t see Arizona State having much of a shot at winning this game. Give me the Villanova Wildcats laying -4 points tonight from Bubbleville!