The bracket for the eight team 76 Classic was released today. The Eagles drew Rick Majerus and the Saint Louis Billikens from the Atlantic 10 on Thanksgiving. The game will be broadcast on ESPNU at 2 PM. Five points for anyone who can tell me what a Billiken is without googling it.
Last season Saint Louis struggled to a 12-18 record before getting bounced in the Atlantic 10 Tournament by Rhode Island. St. Louis is a very difficult team to watch as they ranked 299th in the country in average points scored (63.0) and play a slow defense oriented game. However, both of the Billikens' high scorers will be returning next season in Mike McCall (10.3 PPG) and Brian Conklin (8.7 PPG). Saint Louis will have point guard Kwamain Mitchell back in the lineup, after he missed all of last season due to a suspension.
The big news is if Boston College can get past Saint Louis, we could have a rematch of the 2006 Sweet Sixteen matchup between BC and Villanova. 'Nova needs to get past UC Riverside to set up that matchup, which could set the tone for BC. Like the Eagles, the Wildcats lost both of their high scorers in Corey Fisher and Corey Stokes. Both teams will be relying heavily on freshman, with the Wildcats starting stud recruit Jayvaughn Pinkston. Could BC stun the Wildcats? Probably not, but that's why they play the games.
For BC this will be a great way to begin the season for Ryan Anderson, Kyle Caudill, Jordan Daniels and Lonnie Jackson who will get a chance to play in their home state of California. Maybe a little home court advantage will instill some confidence in the freshman.
Coach Donahue even tweeted his excitement for the trio of Californian freshmen:
"Will also be great for our four California freshmen to play three games in their home state early in their BC career."
The rest of the bracket is highlighted by a very good New Mexico team that is highlighted by Drew Gordon and Kendall Williams. Santa Clara who may be the sleeper of this preseason tournament as the Broncos basically return their entire 2010-11 team. Lon Kruger and Oklahoma and Washington State are the other two teams rounding out the 2011 76 Classic tournament field
The complete bracket after the jump (all games are on ESPN2 and ESPNU):
Game A: Boston College vs. Saint Louis
Game B: Villanova vs. UC Riverside
Game C: Oklahoma vs. Washington State
Game D: Santa Clara vs. New Mexico
Game E: Winner of Game A & B
Game F: Winner of Game C & D
Game G: Loser of Game A & B
Game H: Loser of Game C & D
Finals: Winner of Games E & F
Consolation Finals: Winner of Games G & H
Loser of Games E & F
Loser of Games G & H