NCAA Basketball: 2019 Charleston Classic preview and predictions

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CINCINNATI, OH – NOVEMBER 12: Xavier Musketeers team members celebrate a three point basket during the second half against the Missouri Tigers at Cintas Center on November 12, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

The Charleston Classic comes back again for its twelfth incarnation. With arguably its strongest NCAA Basketball field since its inception featuring two ranked teams, who will come out on top?

The Charleston Classic comes back to ESPN this Thursday as one of the first non-conference NCAA Basketball tournaments of the season. Even though this tournament field may look weak compared to other major tournaments, don’t let that fool you as this year is practically guaranteed to be filled with exciting match-ups.

The Charleston Classic will be played from November 21 to November 24. The first round will be on the 21, the semifinals and consolation games on the 22, and finally, the championship and all other placements will be contested on the 24. All games will be shown on either ESPN or ESPN-affiliated channels such as ESPN2 or ESPNU.

Last year, the field had three teams that made the NCAA Tournament and featured a championship matchup between two ranked teams in the Purdue Boilermakers and the Virginia Tech Hokies, with the latter team winning. It should be noted Virginia Tech and Purdue had long runs in the tournament where they both made the Sweet Sixteen round with Purdue making the Elite Eight. In addition, the tournament MVP was Virginia Tech’s(now New Orleans’) Nickeil Alexander-Walker who scored at least 20 points in each tournament game including a 25 point performance with seven rebounds in the championship game.

This year the field features two teams that are the headliners of this event that were ranked at the beginning of the season and one that is still ranked in the undefeated #18 Xavier Musketeers from the Big East and the Florida Gators from the SEC. Florida was ranked as high as #5 in the AP Polls but they have dropped out of the top 25 entirely within a month. Just because these two teams are viewed as the most likely finals match-up, there is no guarantee that it will happen especially because of this field filled with potential upset winners.

Rounding out the field are the Buffalo Bulls from the MAC, Miami Hurricanes from the ACC, the AAC Connecticut Huskies, the A10 St. Joseph’s Hawks, CAA Towson Tigers, and the Missouri State Bears representing the MVC. So in total, there are three Power Six schools, two schools from multi-bid mid-majors, and three from one-bid leagues. So let’s just get right into this tournament.

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