After ESPN's 2K Sports Classic "Bracket reveal", we only have two new pieces of information on the 2011 schedule.
St. John's will play in the late game on November 17th, and the Red Storm will battle the Arizona Wildcats at 9PM Eastern in what will likely be the new squad's first game in Madison Square Garden.
All games will be broadcast on ESPN2.
There is no mention of the opening round games, which I was interested in hearing about. Those games could be challenging for a young squad, despite their prodigious talent. Per the Gazelle Group, the full bracket will be revealed at a later date (obviously).
We've already known the three other teams in the championship bracket at Madison Square Garden - St. John's, the Arizona Wildcats, the Mississippi State Bulldogs, and the Texas A & M Aggies. The format designates those four to make the Garden games; no Cinderella runs for the likes of Gardner-Webb anymore. No team gets Scrugged.
The young St. John's basketball squad gets some early television exposure via the 2K Sports Classic in support of Coaches vs. Cancer, the collaboration between the American Cancer Society and the National Association of Basketball Coaches to raise funds for awareness about and the fight against cancer.
The Wildcats lost the second pick in the NBA draft from a team that won 30 games, went to the Elite Eight, losing a nail-biter to the eventual national champion Connecticut. But the 'Cats return stalwart defender Kevin Parrom, shooter Kyle Fogg, undersized rebounders in Jesse Perry and Solomon Hill...
And a recruiting class that might be as good as St. John's. In fact, at various points, the Red Storm staffs looked at all four players; Norm Roberts had interest in Sidiki Johnson, while Steve Lavin was intrigued by Josiah Turner and Angelo Chol (who both were not interested) and was recruiting Nick Johnson, the athletic combo guard. Even Steve Lavin can't get them all.
Nurideen Lindsey, assuming he qualifies, should be big part of the Johnnies' scoring attack against Sean Miller's strong and experienced Arizona team. Can God'sGift Achiuwa, Norvel Pelle, and JaKarr Sampson play with such a physical squad down low? They and the rest of the touted recruiting class will be sorting out roles and abilities before the fans' eyes.
No matter what happens, this tournament gives the Red Storm two high level opponents to measure themselves against. Lavin has never seemed to mind taking a loss early to spur on late player development, and that may just happen here.