Cancun Challenge Preview
The 2018 Cancun Challenge will begin Tuesday with SMU playing Bradley at 6 p.m ET and Penn State taking on Wright State at 8:30 p.m. ET. Penn State and SMU both enter the tournament as the teams most likely to square off in the championship on Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. ET. The loser of the games will play each other on Wednesday at 6 p.m. ET
SMU has struggled early after having a strong showing in March Madness last year. The Mustangs currently hold a 2-2 record but have yet to face any quality opponents. Senior guard Jahmal McMurray has been key for the Mustangs early wins over Northwestern State and Western Carolina by averaging 17.3 points per game and shooting 44 percent from the field.
McMurray is helped by Ethan Chargois, who is a sophomore forward that averages 17 points and 9 rebounds a game. Scoring has not been an issue for the Mustangs as the team averages 77 points per game. However, Bradley Kaboom’s defense will definitely cause SMU some problems.
Bradley’s senior guard Dwayne Lautier-Ogunleye leads the team with 12.5 points per game. The English player has been impressive so far for the Kaboom by connecting on 50 percent of his three-point shots and 57 percent of his field goals.
Lautier-Ogunleye is aided by sophomore forward Elijah Childs. Childs averages nine rebounds a game and is crucial in protecting the rim for Bradley. They give up only 60 points per game and will definitely force the Mustangs to make some difficult shots. The difference in the game is whether Bradley can stop SMU’s transition offense and force them to run set plays in the half court.
The other game will feature Wright State and Penn State. Wright State’s offense has been difficult to slow down as it averages nearly 81 points per game. The Rowdy Raiders enter the game with a 3-1 record as they have wins over North Florida, Toledo and Western Carolina.
Wright State is led by two different forwards in Billy Wampler and Loudon Love. Wampler averages 17 points per game while also shooting 44 percent from the three-point line and 46 percent from the field. Loudon also helps the teams offensive attack by averaging 16.5 points and nine rebounds per game. Its biggest issue is the defense that gives up 73 points per game.
The Nittany Lions enter the tournament as the favorite led by Lamar Stevens and Josh Reaves. Stevens has been incredible for the Lions after losing Tony Carr last year. Stevens leads the team in points per game with 24 and rebounds per game with 10.
Freshman guard Miles Dread has complemented Stevens’ inside presence by shooting nearly 40 percent from the three-point line and averaging 14.7 points per game.
Penn State had a nice start to the season after winning the NIT Championship last year. However, the Nittany Lions are looking to bounce back after a devastating overtime loss to Depaul last Thursday. Penn State should be able to gain some momentum with this tournament before it takes on No.16 Virginia Tech next week at the Bryce Jordan Center.
Matthew White is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism with a double minor in Business and Spanish. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.