ESPNU will show all four first-round games, featuring Ole Miss vs. Indiana State, San Diego State vs. San Francisco, Arizona vs. East Tennessee State and Miami vs. Hawaii
Miami's game against Hawaii has been announced as a 12:30 am start, early Sunday morning.
Here is our full Q&A with Arizona Desert Swarm (AZ) & Red Cup Rebellion (MS), with my answers represented as well (SOTU).
SOTU: First tell us your who you are, your blog link, and twitter handle.
AZ: Kevin Zimmerman, AZDesertSwarm.com, @azdesertswarm or @offensivelyfoul
MS: I am Bob at Red Cup Rebellion, SB Nation's Ole Miss Rebels community. I also host Red Cup Radio on the RebelSportsRadio network. You can find us at Red Cup Rebellion dot com, and please do follow us on Twitter @RedCupRebellion.
SOTU: Jerry Steinberg with State of the U, @category6um or @TheStateoftheU
SOTU: Please give us a brief capsule/scouting report on the team you cover.
AZ: The No. 4 Arizona Wildcats are 9-0 heading into the Diamondhead Classic, and they've shot out of a canon this season with steadiness. Senior guard Mark Lyons and senior forward Solomon Hill have been great, and sophomore guard Nick Johnson has developed an "it" factor. A crop of freshmen in the frontcourt makes the Wildcats able to defend at the rim, giving the perimeter players the ability to put pressure on the ball. But the Wildcats' strength is that any time one of their key players has a bad game, there's enough talent elsewhere to give the team much room for error.
MS: This Ole Miss team is marked by an experienced and somewhat consistent front court and a talented yet wildly inconsistent back court. Up front, the Rebels rely on Reginald Buckner and Murphy Holloway to provide what seems like all of the team's blocks and rebounds. Buckner is the all-time shot blocks leader at Ole Miss, while Holloway is currently averaging a double-double, with the senior forward bringing in 10.4 rebounds a game to go along with his 14.8 points. The back court is led by shooting guard Marshall Henderson, who can be either an asset or a liability depending on what type of night he is having. He leads the team in 17.8 points a game despite only shooting .384 from the floor - so, yeah, he takes a lot of shots. Jarvis Summers leads the team in assists with 34, feeding the ball to Henderson, Nick Williams and Derrick Millinghaus. Williams and Millinghaus are the types of guys who don't put up gaudy numbers, but they put them all over the box score. I think the best way to describe this team overall is that they're talented, but lacking cohesion. When they've got it together, they're tough to beat. When they're less organized or motivated, they struggle mightily.
SOTU: Miami has really bounced back nicely after a shocking early season loss to Florida Gulf Coast. A six game winning streak has ensued, including a big time win over Michigan State. Miami starts 4 seniors (Reggie Johnson, Kenny Kadji, Durand Scott, and Trey McKinney Jones) and an electrifying sophomore in Shane Larkin (Barry Larkin's son). During their impressive streak they are holding teams under 60 ppg and shooting nearly 50% from the floor as a team. All 5 starters score in double figures. Coach Jim Larranaga really has the Hurricanes firing on all cylinders!
SOTU: Please predict winners for each 1st round game.
Match-ups: Ole Miss Vs Indiana State SD State Vs San Fran Arizona Vs E Tenn St Miami Vs Hawaii
AZ: Ole Miss beats Indiana State, SD State beats San Fran, Arizona beats E Tenn St, & Miami beats Hawaii.
MS: I pick Ole Miss over Indiana State, SD State over San Francisco, Zona over ETSU, and the U over Hawaii.
SOTU: I like Ole Miss, SD State, Arizona, and Miami as well.
SOTU: Which players/teams are you most looking forward to seeing and why? Who is your all tournament team?
AZ: From an Arizona standpoint, a rematch against San Diego State would be fun to see. The Aztecs snapped a 22-game home winning streak in McKale Center last season, and Sean Miller called them the best team out west following Arizona's win against Oral Roberts on Tuesday. That said, Miami's schedule looks to have been plenty tough, and take away what I assume was a flub-up against Florida Gulf Coast early on and they look pretty impressive.
My All Tournament team:
Jamaal Franklin, SDSU, Nick Johnson, Arizona, Solomon Hill, Arizona, Durand Scott, Miami, & Reggie Johnson, Miami
MS: The players I'm most looking forward to seeing who are not Ole Miss Rebels are Jamaal Franklin of San Diego State because of his versatility and Mark Lyons of Arizona because of how the offense works through him. Really though, Arizona is so good that I just want to watch them play basketball period.
My all tournament team is:
PG: Mark Lyons - Zona
SG: Jamaal Franklin - SDSU
C: Reggie Johnson - Miami
PF: Murphy Holloway - Ole Miss
SF: Solomon Hill - Zona
SOTU: Being an East coast guy I am really looking forward to seeing the two premier West Coast teams play. Miami played (and lost) to Ole Miss last year, so we know they can play. I caught the second half of Arizona's stunning second half comeback against the dreaded Gators, and was very impressed. A Miami - Zona second round match-up could have the feel of an NCAA Tournament game.
My all tournament team is:
PG Mark Lyons - Zona.
SG Durand Scott - Miami
G Marshall Henderson - Ole Miss
PF Kenny Kadji - Miami
C Reggie Johnson - Miami
SOTU: Who wins this tourney and why?
AZ: It's hard to see Arizona losing at this point. Through nine games, about half of which looked like poor games from the eye test, no opponent of the Wildcats' has proven to be good enough to drop Arizona, even on a down night. Until an opponent shows that they can make the Wildcats somehow hit the panic button during the game, I can't see them losing.
MS: I think this is Arizona's tournament to lose. I think that Miami and SDSU are very talented, and I think that my Rebs can play some good basketball if they can get it together, but in the end we're talking about the #4 team in the Country here, the team that people had penciled in as Pac 12 Champs this preseason. Arizona is talented and efficient, and have a lot of guys who can score. Still, I think there will be some damn fine basketball played this weekend, and I'm frankly quite happy to see Ole Miss as a part of such a good field.
SOTU: This is going to look like a homer pick, but I love how Miami is playing right now. Reggie Johnson looks like a man amongst boys. Durand Scott has taken his play to an all time high. Shane Larkin is playing so well right now, he was nominated to the Cousy watch list for the Nation's top PG. Add to the mix the fact that 6'11 Kenny Kadji has regained his shooting stroke, and you have a plethora of scoring options. What's most scary about this team is that they do their best work on the defensive end. The 'Canes are a hungry team, look for them to really bring it this weekend.
Thanks again to the guys over at Red Cup Rebellion as well as Arizona Desert Swarm for working with us. Be sure to keep an tune in to the Diamond Head Classic, where some exceptional basketball is sure to be played this weekend.