Cal basketball is starting to piece together its 2015 schedule, and they now have a clear idea when and where their first major college basketball games will be taking place. We already know Cal is heading to Virginia in December. Now the Golden Bears will head to Vegas Thanksgiving weekend to play West Virginia, San Diego State and Richmond in the 2015 Las Vegas Invitational on Fox Sports. The semifinals take place Friday, November 27; the finals and third place game are on Saturday, November 28.
This actually might be one of the most competitive tournaments out there. I'm not quite sure who I'd pick to win this. Let's take a look at each squad.
West Virginia Mountaineers: A Sweet 16 squad that survived Buffalo and Maryland before getting obliterated by the Kentucky juggernaut. Don't sleep on West Virginia, this is a team that beat elite squads like N.C. State, Kansas and Oklahoma. They are returning their entire rotation aside from starting point guard Juwan Staten, and they were the best in the nation last season at forcing turnovers and top five in grabbing offensive rebounds. Adding in 6-8 ESPN100 recruit Esa Ahmad will make them even more fierce on both fronts.
San Diego State Aztecs: A Round of 32 team that lost to national champions Duke, San Diego State boasted an elite defense that upset Utah and BYU early in the season, took Arizona to the wire, and captured another Mountain West Conference title. The good news is the two most efficient scorers on the team in J.J. O'Brien and Aqeel Quinn have graduated, and SDSU wasn't particularly good offensively last season. They remain an elite defensive team, but even with the addition of a solid forward in Jeremy Hemsley they will need help scoring.
Richmond Spiders: A squad that fell on the other side of the NCAA bubble and ended up NIT quarterfinalists, Richmond is a team to watch as one capable of springing an upset. They return everyone but their primary point guard Kendall Anthony, and ShawnDre' Jones is more than capable of handling the starting load. They are the underdogs, but I imagine they will be a stiff test with all the returning starters.
What do you think about this tournament? Early guesses? Who ya got?