The Legends Classic featuring Georgetown, UCLA, Georgia, and the top ranked Indiana Hoosiers takes place today and tomorrow at the newly opened Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Games begin at 5:30 p.m. EST.
Each team warmed up for the championship round with two regional games. Indiana took on North Dakota State first with an 87-61 win, and then cruised to a 99-45 win over Sam Houston State in their second game. While Georgia found itself in a fight with Youngstown State losing 68-56 followed by another battle against Southern Miss, a game that ended with a 62-60 overtime loss for the Bulldogs. UCLA took on UC Irvine in a game that headed to overtime and resulted in an 80-79 win for the Bruins. In the second game of the week James Madison proved to be no match for Norman Powell and No. 13 UCLA, losing 70-100.
The Barclays Center will host a doubleheader today, November 19, with the first game between No. 1 Indiana and the University of Georgia with a 5:30 p.m. tipoff. The second game between UCLA and Georgetown is scheduled to start at 8 p.m. On Tuesday, a second doubleheader is scheduled with a consolation game preceding the championship. Tickets to both days of the Legends Classic are currently available.
Many experts feel that the men’s college basketball field is wide open this season. Last year’s defending champion Kentucky Wildcats lost all five starters to the NBA draft. Therefore, going into the start of this season Indiana found itself at the top of the college basketball rankings.
Indiana is led by 7-foot center Cody Zeller. Zeller was already named a preseason First Team All-American at Center and is thought to be an early favorite for Player of the Year. Last year he averaged 15.6 points and 6.6 rebounds per game.
The Hoosiers are thought to have one distinct advantage over the competition; they have three returning seniors in their lineup. Besides Zeller, Indiana will also receive contributions from guard Jordan Hulls who averaged nearly 12 points a game and 3 assists last season. Senior forward Christian Watford will also be returning to the team this season. Last year Watford shot 44 percent from the three-point line, and averaged 6 rebounds and 12.6 points per game.
Joining Indiana this year is freshman point guard Yogi Ferrell. Ferrell was named a McDonald’s High School All-American last year, and was the second highest ranked point guard in the country for his class.
The UCLA Bruins were a college basketball powerhouse for several years. After making three straight Final Four appearances from 2006-2008, the Bruins have struggled in more recent years to be relevant. Last season was another frustrating year for UCLA. Despite being ranked 17th during the preseason the Bruins failed to make the NCAA tournament. However, UCLA fans have something to look forward to this year with the top-ranked recruiting class. The Bruins will be featuring two 5 star players and three top-100 ESPN recruits.
While there are high expectations for Indiana and UCLA, the Georgetown Hoyas are expected to have a tougher season this year. Last year, Georgetown made it to the second round of the NCAA tournament before losing in a thriller to North Carolina State 66-63. The Hoyas lost three starters from last season and do not have a single senior on their roster.
The Georgia Bulldogs season is off to a rough start at 1-2 with two tough games on the horizon. Their season will likely rely on the play of their star sophomores, shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and forward Nemanja Djurisic.
Over the next two days, The Legends Classic at Barclays Center will offer New York area basketball fans the rare opportunity to witness some out of town talent and an early look at the potential professional stars of tomorrow.