The first round matchups for the 2015 Charleston Classic were released yesterday, pitting Seton Hall against Big West foe Long Beach State.
Ignoring the winner of the loser’s bracket advancing to the final, the above graphic is how the Charleston Classic will play out, as reported by CBSSports.com. A daunting matchup against a preseason top-10 team in Virginia awaits Seton Hall the next day should they dispatch Long Beach State on Thursday, November 19th.
In the other half of the bracket, two NCAA-hopeful schools in Ole Miss and Oklahoma State will be favorites to meet in the semifinals alongside Seton Hall-Virginia.
For now, I’ll take a brief look at Long Beach State; stay tuned for an in-depth preview of the Charleston Classic later this off-season.
Notorious for scheduling highly-rated non-conference slates, Long Beach State (KenPom: 142, RPI: 111) went 16-17 (10-6) last season, but they were better than their record suggests. The 49ers went just 6-10 prior to league play after taking losses at the hands of BYU, Xavier, UCLA, Washington, San Diego State, Texas, St. John’s, Syracuse and Louisville. They also beat Xavier and Kansas State. I wasn’t kidding when I said they schedule tough.
That said, head coach Dan Monson has his work cut out for him after losing point guard Mike Caffey (16.2 ppg, 4 rpg, 3.6 apg), forward David Samuels (10.8 ppg, 7.4 rpg), wing Tyler Lamb (8.3 ppg, 3.8 rpg), and guard McKay LaSalle (6 ppg) to graduation; the first three were Monson’s top-three scorers.
Returning guys to keep an eye on would be guard Branford Jones (7 ppg, 2.9 rpg) and wing Travis Hammonds (6.4 ppg, 2.7 rpg), who played 24 mpg and 17 mpg, respectively. Fifth-year senior A.J. Spencer will also be back after sitting out last campaign with an ACL injury following a 9.1 ppg and 3 rpg showing in 2013-14.
But perhaps the biggest boost that Long Beach State will receive next season comes in the form of former Terrapin guard Nick Faust, who is eligible after sitting out 2014-15. Faust averaged 9.4 ppg and over 2 apg during his first two seasons in College Park and will log big minutes in the backcourt. Former Loyola Marymount and Marquette forward Gabe Levin will also be eligible next season for the 49ers. Levin averaged 11 ppg and 7 rpg as a freshman at LMU in 2013-14.
Due to Long Beach State losing three starters and a rotation option, you have to give Seton Hall the edge in this one right now. Faust v. Whitehead will be an interesting battle but the Hall will have better help at every position.
Beating Virginia will be a tall order, but the RPI boost of playing them shouldn’t be ignored. In all likelihood, Oklahoma State or Ole Miss will await the Pirates in the 3rd place game and could make or break their showing at the Charleston Classic.