The Orlando Classic is one of several November college basketball betting tournaments which will give teams across the country the chance to test themselves against each other. What does the bracket look like?
While the NCAA Basketball odds are yet to be released for the tournament openers, we take the time to run over the slated matchups to decide which team has the best chance of taking home this year's title.
Also take a look at our early breakdowns for the rest of this year's opening tournaments.
The top half of the bracket puts Santa Clara against Tennessee and Kansas against Rhode Island. Santa Clara has been lagging in the West Coast Conference over the past few seasons, and Tennessee is a question mark after former coach Cuonzo Martin left the program to go to Berkeley to become the new coach at the University of California. New coach Donnie Tyndall is not a big name in coaching circles, but he is seen as an active recruiter who can maintain Tennessee’s talent base.
The other game in the top half of the Orlando Classic bracket is Kansas-Rhode Island. The Jayhawks lose Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid, but they will bring aboard Cliff Alexander and Kelly Oubre, two new freshmen who have the capability to step right in and not allow Kansas to miss a beat. The Jayhawks also have forward Perry Ellis returning as the savvy veteran on the team, also an agile scorer who is going to be a dependable player late in games. Rhode Island has drifted through the Atlantic 10 and has found it hard to move upward in college basketball. The Rams do not figure to have the scoring power to be able to stay in the same zip code as Kansas.
In the bottom half of the bracket, Marquette plays Georgia Tech and Michigan State plays Rider. First, Michigan State should be able to have its way with Rider, a small-conference team that won’t have the size or the depth to match up with the Spartans in the paint. Even with Gary Harris at shooting guard and Adreian Payne in the pivot now playing in the pros, Michigan State has a well-rounded roster that should be able to dismiss the Broncs without too much trouble.
The Georgia Tech-Marquette game is a hard one to predict for the simple reason that Marquette is no longer being coached by Buzz Williams, the man who made the Golden Eagles so tough over a long period of time. Marquette turned into such a strong defensive team under Williams, a team that would never get outhustled or outworked on a game night. The Golden Eagles might have suffered because they couldn’t hit perimeter shots, but they would never lose because of the intangibles.
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When it comes to making your NCAA Basketball picks, it’s not a hard bracket to predict. In fact, it would be absolutely shocking if this tournament did not create the championship game that everyone wants to see. Tennessee and Marquette, in other seasons and with their previous coaches, would have had an honest chance to beat Kansas and Michigan State. With new coaches, though, the Volunteers and Golden Eagles would find it very hard to get the cohesion needed to upend Bill Self’s Jayhawks and Tom Izzo’s Spartans. Kansas should probably beat Michigan State in the championship game.