NCAA Basketball: Key early-season tournament games for 2021-22 season

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NCAA Basketball

NCAA Basketball St. Bonaventure BonniesDavid Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Whether you call them the NCAA Basketball Holiday Tournaments, Exempt Multi-Team Events or early-season tournaments, a good game by any other name is still a good game. The rules surrounding these games are complex enough for their own article and will not be touched upon in this particular one.

Regardless of how or why, the point is basketball fans get to enjoy a stretch of games lumped into a small period of time, so much so that it becomes difficult to follow everyone, a problem that is all too welcoming to have.

After a season that was marred by COVID restrictions, cancellations, and bubbles, it was the latter that provided an opportunity that may not happen again. With so many teams in the same general area, if not confined to the same bubble, opportunities arose for late-night phone calls between coaches in order to put together eleventh-hour matchups and spoil fans with ‘pop up games’ that was reminiscent of opening a present on Christmas morning.

St. Bonaventure versus West Virginia

The Shriners Children’s Charleston Classic begins with the quarter-finals at 2 pm on Thursday, Nov.18. The match-up between the Bonnies and the Mountaineers would only take place in the finals on Sunday, Nov. 21 at 7 pm on ESPN. With Emmitt Matthews transferring, West Virginia will be without three starters from last year and have fallen to a top 60 team in the nation.

This match-up however is all about St. Bonaventure and their returning starting line-up that won the Atlantic-10 regular season and conference tournament championships prior to a first-round loss in the NCAA Tournament by 15 to Louisiana State. The Big 12 looks to be a talented conference this season and West Virginia will get some wins versus quality teams, a win versus them will look good on the Bonnies resume.

With just Connecticut and Virginia Tech on their non-conference schedule, a win versus an undersized West Virginia team will look even better in March than it does in November. If the Bonnies are good enough to end the season in the top-25 and finish as the top mid-major team who do not travel via privately charted jet (looking at you Gonzaga) and if they are to get some victories in the National Tournament, a win versus a ‘middle of a power conference pack” is a must.

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