The All Military Classic appears to be on it's last legs, but I'm not going to lie- I love this tournament. It has been fun to watch/listen early in the season as these mid-major schools battle for supremacy among the military academies.
This year, the tournament is at West Point. Army has never beaten Air Force in the first round of the tournament and advanced to the championship game. Army has finished third two out of three years of the tournament though, and fourth once. The Citadel has finished second, third, and fourth in the tournament. VMI has defeated The Citadel twice in the first round. They finished fourth and second in the first two years. Then last year, the Keydets won the championship. Air Force has won two championships and finished second the other year.
This year the first round games feature a SoCon match-up right away that does not count in the SoCon standings. VMI and The Citadel hook up in an interesting showdown.
QJ Peterson is the star of the Keydets. He averaged 19 points per game a year ago and they will be one of the highest scoring teams in the country. There is also a lot of excitement about freshman Jon Elmore. People seem to think he will be starting in the first game and this could be a real coming out party for him. Brian Brown is a decent three point shooter, making 33% of the shots. He is the second leading returning starter. This team will run up and down the floor....just like every other VMI team. They will score, even without DJ Covington and Rob Glasgow.
The Citadel will be relying heavily on Ashton Moore, who came on huge at the end of the year last year. Losing Matt Van Scyoc hurts this team bad. Brian White was a freshman a year ago and looks like he is well on his way to being one of the better players on the Bulldogs. This is a team that desperately needs things to get going well early in the year. After starting 3-4, they went 1-21. Then the Bulldogs won three straight before falling in the SoCon semifinals to Wofford. Will that momentum carry over the offseason into this year and the All Military Classic?
Army is at home and would love to get off to a good start. They return all of their starters. Kyle Wilson averaged 18.4 points per game last year to lead the Patriot League. The Black Knights lead the league in scoring. Kevin Ferguson averaged 9.1 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. This team made it to the Patriot League semifinals a year ago and are one of the favorites in the league heading into the season. Is this the year the Black Knights finally win a first round game in the All Military Classic?
Air Force was left reeling by the transfer of Tre Coggins. But the Falcons return four other starters, all of which are seniors. Kamryn Williams averaged 6.5 rebounds per game, and Williams and Max Yon both averaged double figures in scoring. This is a team that will be looking to rise up in the Mountain West. Without Coggins, this team is expected to have some problems, but the team that has been the best in this tournament is looking to claim their third title.
Look for VMI to beat The Citadel, but the best two teams in this tournament are probably Army and Air Force. They return nine starters between them. The Black Knights will come up with the win, and then Army will battle VMI. That will be a very high scoring showdown. Army will come up with the win and Air Force will beat The Citadel in the third place game. The two SoCon teams will finish second and fourth. That's my expectation from here.