The sub-host of the CBE Hall of Fame Classic will be held in Rochester, Michigan, home of the Oakland Grizzlies. From Monday, November 24 through Wednesday, November 26, four teams will play a round robin against each in the blustery Michigan. Western Carolina is the SoCon representative in this tournament. While the Catamounts advanced to the SoCon Championship Game a year ago and have been a quality program in recent years, there is a lot of rebuilding going on.
Below is the schedule:
Monday, November 24
Chicago State vs. Georgia State, 4:30 PM
Western Carolina at Oakland, 7:00 PM
Tuesday, November 25
Georgia State vs. Western Carolina, 4:30 PM
Chicago State at Oakland, 7:00 PM
Wednesday, November 26
Chicago State vs. Western Carolina, 4:30 PM
Georgia State at Oakland, 7:00 PM
The Catamounts will be relying heavily on James Sinclair this year, who burst onto the scene a season ago. This is a program that needs to prove it can sustain the gains that they have made in the last several years. With Trey Sumler, Tawaski King and Tom Tankelwicz all gone from the roster, this team is replacing a lot. This is a tough field to prove themselves against. The Catamounts will be trying to show that they have not fallen off that far in this very early part of the season.
The Oakland Grizzlies are a Horizon League team hoping to bounce back after a mediocre campaign a year ago. Transfer Max Hooper will look to guide the Griz back on track. He is a shooter and can be a big time scorer. Corey Petros will be a difficult player to handle in the post. The Freshman of the Year Kahlil Felder will be looking to improve on a year where he lead the league in assists. This Oakland team has a chance to move up and be a solid bunch in the Horizon League this year.
Oh, the wacky WAC! Chicago State is the representative from that conference. The Cougars are replacing four starters. Senior Clarke Rosenberg is the lone returning starter, and he is a good one, averaging 14.0 points per game a year ago. Still, this is not a great team. Rosenberg and an influx of junior college transfers will be expected to carry the load.
The Georgia State Panthers are on the rise. This is a team that came up a point shy of the NCAA Tournament a year ago, despite finishing five games ahead of their closest competition in the Sun Belt. RJ Hunter and Ryan Harrow may be the two best players in the whole league, and both are on the Panthers roster. The famous Kevin Ware (he's famous for breaking his leg in gruesome fashion in the Elite Eight) may come in and be the third best player in the Sun Belt. This program may well spend some quality time in the Top 25 this year.
On the whole, it is difficult to see Georgia State losing a game in this bracket. In fact, they may well win their "un-bracketed" game against Iowa State. The Panthers are significantly better than any other team in this bracket. Personally, I don't know how it works out, but I think the other three teams split with each other and all wind up 1-2 in tournament play, with Georgia State dominating and going 3-0. That does mean that Oakland will be 1-1 with a shot at splitting the title with Georgia State heading into the final game. But still, this will not be close. Georgia State probably wins all three games by double digits. The other three teams are all so close to equal. Expect some really tight games in the rest of the games, and some good experience gained for the Catamounts in end game, close game situations.