The first week of the 2016-17 College Basketball Season has come to an end, which means it’s time for all of the early season tournaments!
The Paradise Jam brings many surprises every year and always brings exciting basketball to viewers! This will be the 16th annual Paradise Jam and will feature no previous champions, but will feature #22 Creighton Blue Jays as well as N.C. State Wolfpack and Saint Joseph’s Hawks.
This year’s tournament is being played in The U.S. Virgin Islands, as it is every year. The other five teams participating this year are: Loyola-Chicago, Oral Roberts, Montana, Ole Miss, and Washington State.
Let’s get right to it and talk about each matchup before the tournament begins at 12:30 pm EST on CBSSN/ESPN3!
St. Joseph’s Hawks (2-0) vs. Loyola-Chicago Ramblers (3-0) – 12:30 pm EST Tip-Off
Saint Joseph’s is coming off a great 2015-2016 season in which they made it to the NCAA Tournament. A large part of this was because of Isaiah Miles and DeAndre Bembry contributing to 35.5 PPG combined. Somebody has to step up for Saint Joseph’s this year if they want to be successful in a competitive A-10 conference and return to the NCAA Tournament. Shavar Newkirk (22.5 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 3.5 APG) has looked solid through Saint Joseph’s first two games and will look to put the team on his back today against Loyola-Chicago.
Loyola-Chicago is off to its best start since 1997! They have started the season with a 3 game win streak and are averaging 88.7 PPG. Defense has been the Ramblers biggest attribute as they rank 13th in the nation, surrendering 51.3 PPG to their opponents. Loyola-Chicago will not wow you with their shooting, but senior guard Milton Doyle leads the team in scoring with 16.7 PPG and leads this team in athleticism. Expect Doyle to come out swinging early against a slower Saint Joseph’s team. Do not be surprise if the Ramblers keep this game close for a while.
FINAL PREDICTION: Saint Joseph’s 65, Loyola-Chicago 57
Ole Miss Runnin’ Rebels (2-0) vs. Oral Roberts Golden Eagles (1-1) – 3 pm EST Tip-Off
Losing Stefan Moody may be the worst thing that has happened to Ole Miss basketball ever! He contributed to over a fourth of their points each game and was always the go to guy. So Ole Miss basketball is going to be bad now right? Well, I am quite impressed so far! All of their starters are averaging more than 10+ PPG and everyone on this Runnin’ Rebel team knows their role, this early in the season! I expect Ole Miss to surprise many during the Paradise Jam and could potentially find their way into the final!
Oral Roberts did not look terrible in their first game of the year at Baylor, which was a 76-61 loss. They started slow and couldn’t make a shot to save their lives, but in the second half, the Golden Eagles adjusted to the play style and settled in a little. Oral Roberts will need to start fast and force Ole Miss, a terrible three-point shooting team, to take threes. If Oral Roberts can crash the boards and force the mistakes, they may be able to pull off a crazy upset over Ole Miss!
FINAL PREDICTION: Ole Miss 79, Oral Roberts 63
Montana Grizzlies (0-2) vs. N.C. St. Wolfpack (2-0) – 6 pm EST Tip-Off
Montana is a low scoring type of team that looks to wear down their opponents with their slow-pace and fundamental approach to the game. The Grizzlies lack a go-to-guy, but play very conservative and look for the open shots. They do not turn the ball over much, but do struggle getting rebounds. If the Grizzlies want to try and upset the Wolfpack, they will have to take and make the three, in addition to trying to slow down the Wolfpack’s fast-paced, half-court tempo.
N.C. St. landed two top recruits in Dennis Smith and Omer Yurtseven, but Yurtseven is suspended for a few more games and Smith is recovering from a knee injury. No Anthony “Cat” Barber hurts the offense of the Wolfpack as well, but others have stepped up in his place. The Wolfpack have not been able to get the three ball working for them yet this season, but can be dangerous inside with their height. I fully expect the Wolfpack to hold off Montana and move on to the next round!
FINAL PREDICTION: Montana 56, N.C. St. 71
Washington State Cougars (2-0) vs. #22 Creighton Blue Jays (2-0) – 8:30 pm EST Tip-Off
Washington St. enters this season trying to improve from a 9-22 record last season. Washington St. is a team that will outboard a smaller team and can take advantage of the post. Against Creighton though, they will struggle trying to find inside position. In order to upset the Blue Jays, the Cougars will have force turnovers on the defensive side of the ball, and limit turnovers on the offensive side.
Creighton enters the Paradise Jam 2-0 with a 13-point win over #6 Wisconsin. Maurice Watson, their senior leader, has looked great so far. He has controlled this offense, averaging almost a double-double per game (17 PPG, 9.5 APG). Marcus Foster and Khyri Thomas have also averaged 17 PPG so far this season and have taken a lot of pressure and stress off of Watson. I fully expect to see the Blue Jays in the final of this tournament if they continue to play at the level they just played against the Badgers.
FINAL PREDICTION: Washington St. 57, Creighton 83
8th Place: Montana Grizzlies
7th Place: Oral Roberts Golden Eagles
6th Place: Washington St. Cougars
5th Place: Loyola-Chicago Ramblers
Semifinal 1: Saint Joseph’s Hawks 64 vs. Ole Miss Runnin’ Rebels 68
Semifinal 2: N.C. St. Wolfpack 65 vs. #22 Creighton Blue Jays 72
Championship: Ole Miss Runnin’ Rebels 56 vs. #22 Creighton Blue Jays 66
This year’s Paradise Jam should be, once again, a fantastic tournament for all College Basketball fans! Be sure to check out the games later today and for the rest of the week! Make sure to check out more Tournament Previews on College Pride Press!