College Basketball Series of the Week: 2K Empire Classic
College basketball fans are in luck as the 2K Empire Classic tips off with four big programs headlining the event. Fans can enjoy two games at Madison Square Garden as Texas and Georgetown tip off at 7 p.m. and will be followed by Duke against California shortly after. Let’s take a look at what we can expect from the teams set to face off:
Texas finds themselves with a perfect 4-0 record and a No. 22 ranking in the AP Top 25. Texas started outside of the rankings, but won an impressive road game at Mackey Arena defeating Purdue 70-66.
Guard play has been a huge reason for success as a different guard has led the team in scoring in all four contests. Most impressively, after missing a year battling cancer, Andrew Jones came out hot and dropped 20 points for the Longhorns in their opener.
The Hoyas have fallen short of expectations so far even though they hold a 3-1 record. Patrick Ewing’s team fell at the hands of Penn State 81-66, however, Georgetown has had to come behind for all of their wins against weak opponents.
The team relies on the scoring of sophomore guard Mac McClung and need him to be successful to win big games. McClung had 25 points in the most recent Georgetown win over Georgia State, but was held to two points in the loss to Penn State.
The Blue Devils find themselves sitting at the top of the AP Top 25 poll heading into week three. The team still has a handful of problems to sort out, however. Duke has had a lot of success on the defensive end with their plethora of athleticism, but have struggled to find “their guy” on the offensive end.
Through four games, sophomore Tre Jones has led the team with 17 points per game. There are still many concerns with his offensive game as he still shoots under 30 percent from the three and can’t create his own shot. This tournament is a perfect place for Duke to find their guy against notable programs.
The Golden Bears find themselves perfect on the year with a record of 4-0. That being said, Cal has struggled to produce in the first half and counts on making a comeback. The Golden Bears have only led once at halftime this year and only found themselves winning that game by four to a one-win Prairie View A&M team.
Guard Matt Bradley has led the way for Cal this year. Bradley is averaging 20 points per game while shooting 53 percent from beyond the arc.
Game 1: Texas vs. Georgetown
Expect the guards to dictate the pace of this game and play a key part. Texas has good depth with Matt Coleman, Jase Fabes, Andrew Jones, and Courtney Ramey while Georgetown have to rely on their starters to get the job done.
Georgetown will need a big game from their transfer Omer Yurtseven if they want any shot to win this game. The depth of Texas will prevail and defeat Georgetown in a game that should be back-and-forth throughout.
Prediction: Texas 70, Georgetown 64
Game 2: California vs. Duke
Expect this game to be Blue Devils early and often. California will be in trouble if they get off to another slow start. Duke is not known to let teams back into games, especially with their effort on the defensive end this year.
Expect Duke to cruise through this game and win by double digits en route to a championship berth.
Prediction: Duke 81, California 65
Game 3 (projected championship): Texas vs. Duke
College basketball fans will get a top 25 matchup as two major programs should collide in a championship game. Expect Madison Square Garden to fill up but mostly in blue as Duke should lead this one all the way through. Watch for Texas to keep themselves in the game with the longball, however, Duke should be able to add this to their résumé as another quality win come March.
Prediction: Duke 79, Texas 68
Charlie Knezevic is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.