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November 25, 2010

Old Spice Classic breakdown

Though the Wisconsin football team has dominated headlines as of late, it's the UW hoops team that will set the stage for what could be one of the more memorable sports weekend's in school history.

Before Scott Tolzien and company vie for a conference championship, Jon Leuer, Jordan Taylor and Keaton Nankivil hope to bounce back from a loss at UNLV last weekend when they open up tournament play at the fifth annual Old Spice Classic at the Wide World of Disney in Orlando.

Before the Badgers tip off Thursday afternoon against Manhattan, BadgerBlitz.com takes a look at the seven other teams in the field.

MANHATTAN JASPERS

2009-10 Record: 11-20
Conference: MAAC
Top scorers: George Beamon (16.7 ppg and 9.3 rpg) and Michael Alvarado (16.3 ppg and 4.3 rpg)

A quick look: The Jaspers arrive in Orlando with a 2-1 record, one that includes wins over NJIT and Pennsylvania. Manhattans lost its first game over the past weekend with a 91-80 loss to Long Island.

The Old Spice Classic will be the first out-of-state neutral site tournament for Manhattan since it participated in the 2002 Billy Minardi Classic in Louisville, Ky. And the Jaspers, a team nobody believes will make much noise in the tournament, drew Wisconsin in the first round.

For the Jaspers, it's a good thing there are three guaranteed games otherwise it might have been a quick trip to sunny Florida.

TEXAS A&M AGGIES

2009-10 Record: 24-10
Conference: Big 12
Top scorers: Nathan Walkup (14.7 ppg, 6.0 rpg) and Khris Middleton (12.7 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 2.3 apg, 2.0 spg)

A quick look: Following it's fifth consecutive appearance in the NCAA tournament's second round, the Texas A&M basketball team is off to a quick 3-0 start to the 2010 season. Since Mark Turgeon took over the program he's become the first coach at any Big 12 school to win at least 24 games in each of his first three seasons.

Opening tournament play against Boston College, A&M has an opportunity to move to the second round of the tournament and a potential meeting with traditional Big 10 power Wisconsin.

BOSTON COLLEGE EAGLES

2009-10 Record: 15-16
Conference: ACC
Top scorers: Reggie Jackson (18.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 5.0 apg) and Corey Raji (14.7 ppg, 7.0 rpg)

A quick look: With a number of returning players the Eagles are hoping to improve upon their disappointing season a year ago. While there are a handful of returning players, particularly Corey Raji, who is inching towards the 1,000-point club, Boston College is enjoying a new season with a new coach.

Steve Donahue, a coach who should sound familiar to Badgers fans, takes over the Boston College program after a 10-year stint at Cornell. It was Donahue's Cornell squad that finished UW's season a year ago. Should BC upend A&M tomorrow afternoon the Badgers will have a shot at redemption.

NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH

2009-10 Record: 23-12
Conference: Big East
Top scorers: Ben Hansbrough (18 ppg, 3.0 rpb, 5.8 apg) and Tim Abromaitis (17.5 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 3.3 apg)

A quick look: At 6-foot-8, Abromaitis is going to be one of the tougher defensive draws in the entire tournament. He is long, rangy, athletic and can shoot the ball at an incredible clip. For his career, the Irish senior has hit more than 40 percent of his shots. Pair Abromaitis with Hansbrough and it seems the Irish have a solid returning one-two punch from a NCAA tournament squad from a season ago.

GEORGIA BULLDOGS

2009-10 Record: 14-17
Conference: SEC
Top scorers: Travis Leslie (18 ppg, 8.3 rpg), Jeremy Price (17.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg) and Gerald Robinson (16.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg and 5.7 apg)

A quick look: In returning All-SEC player Trey Thompkins absence, the Bulldogs have received plenty of meaningful minutes from Leslie, Price and Robinson. With those three players, and the potential for Thompkins to return later in the season, the Bulldogs have a solid core to build around entering conference play. Unfortunately for Georgia, Thompkins won't play in this tournament.

TEMPLE OWLS

2009-10 Record: 29-6
Conference: Atlantic 10
Top scorers: Ramone Moore (13.ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.5 apg), Michael Eric (11 ppg, 7.5 rpg) and Juan Fernandez[/d] (11 ppg, 5.0 rpg)

A quick look: Temple is in the midst of a very solid run. The Owls won their third consecutive Atlantic Ten conference title last season and rode a 10-game winning streak into the NCAA tournament before falling to Cornell. Though he hasn't started the season as strong, [db]Lavoy Allen returns as a player that averaged a double-double a season ago. Temple will once again be a tough draw for many opponents this season.

CALIFORNIA BEARS

2009-10 Record: 24-11
Conference: Pacific 10
Top scorers: Jorge Gutierrez (19 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 5.5 apg) and Harper Kamp (18.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg)

A quick look: As defending Pac 10 champions, Cal will have its hands full during the 2010 season. They lose four starters from a season ago, including Pac 10 player of the year Jerome Randle. However, with a quick 2-0 start to the year the Bears enter the Old Spice Classic with plenty of momentum and a chance to build off of last season's success.

THE GAMES:

Thursday:

-Texas A&M vs. Boston College (11:00 AM central; ESPN2)
-Wisconsin vs. Manhattan (1:00 PM central; ESPN2)
-Georgia vs. Notre Dame (6:00 PM central; ESPN2)
-Temple vs. Cal (8:00 PM central; ESPN2)

BadgerBlitz.com predictions:

Thursday:

-A&M over Boston College
-Wisconsin over Manhattan
-Notre Dame over Georgia
-Temple over Cal

Friday:

-Wisconsin over A&M
-Temple over Notre Dame

Sunday:

-Wisconsin over Temple






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