Battle 4 Atlantis Preview

Kevin Jairaj-US PRESSWIRE

The UTEP Miners travel to Paradise Island, Bahamas for the third version of the Battle 4 Atlantis.

Today we took a look at the field for the 2013 Battle 4 Atlantis. UTEP joins Tennessee, Iowa, Xavier, Kansas, Villanova, Wake Forest, and USC. Kansas maybe the in house favorite with freshman sensation and possible 1st overall pick Andrew Wiggins, and will feature at least four locks in the NCAA tournament come seasons end.

Tennessee Volunteers

Current Record: 3-1, 0-0 SEC

Coach: Cuonzo Martin, 43-29 3rd year at UT, 103-70 overall

Big Wins/L's so far: L@ Xavier 67-63

Team Stats

PPG 77.8
OPP. PPG 64.8
FG% .471
3-point% .444
FT% .694
RPG 37.8
APG 12.3
TO.PG 9.3

Key Players:

Jordan McRae Sr, G 6'6 185, 21.5 ppg, 3.0 apg, 45% 3-point, 6 blocks

Jarnell Stokes, Jr, F, 6'8 260, 11.5 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 5 blocks

Antonio Barton, Sr, G, 6'2 180 10.8 ppg, 9 assists, 2 turnovers, 8/13 3-point shooting

One, if not the best defensive teams in the tourney, their 3/12 free throw shooting in the first half against Xavier cost them their lone loss. Although they came out and knocked down 18/19 free throws last Friday against Tennessee State, which shows great improvement from a horrendous start . If you have been watching college basketball this year, you know how much more important converting free throw chances are. Barton has been lights out behind the three-point line, something UTEP fans know plenty about. Jordan McRae is one of the best players in the SEC and will be a guy to watch, as he is in the midst of Wooden Award run. The Vols boast size and depth, and will finish towards the top of the SEC.

Xavier Musketeers

Current Record: 5-0, 0-0 Big East

Coach: Chris Mack 99-44 5th year at Xavier, 99-44 overall

Big Wins/L's so far: W Vs. Tennessee 67-63

Team Stats

PPG 79.8
OPP.PPG 58.8
FG% .525
3-point% .393
FT% .599
RPG 41.2
APG 16.6
TO.PG 12.4

Key Players:

Semaj Christon, So, G, 6'3 180, 16.4 ppg, 5.0 apg

Matt Stainbrook, Jr, C, 6-10 263, 10.2 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 13 blocks

James Farr, So, F, 6-9 237, 9.4 ppg, 6.2 rpg, .731 FG%

Coming into the year, not very many people were high on them, though the win against Tennessee should prove they will contend in the Big East along with a 5-0 start. Here is another solid defensive team that has held their opponents to only 38.8 percent shooting from the field. Dee Davis is another top player who can handle the rock and really shoot the three. Semaj Christon could be a tournament MVP candidate, though free throw shooting in a close game is something we have yet to see out of them.

#23 Iowa Hawkeyes

Current Record: 5-0, 0-0 Big Ten

Coach: Fran McCaffery, 59-50 3rd year at Iowa, 309-228 overall

Big Wins/L's so far: None

Team Stats

PPG 92.6
OPP. PPG 54.6
FG% .475
3-point% .354
FT% .742
RPG 48.4
APG 18.2
TO.PG 11.0

Key Players:

Roy Devyn Marble, Sr, G, 6'6 200, 14.6 ppg, 3.8 apg, 16 steals

Aaron White, Jr, F, 6'9 220, 13.6 ppg, 7.6 rpg

Jarrod Uthoff, So, F, 6'6 208, 11.8 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 10 blocks

Iowa has done a nice job annihilating teams they are suppose too. Devyn Marble and White both scored in double figures last year and figure to be the leaders this year. Utfhoff is coming a 19 point effort in their last game, including 6/7 shooting from the field. They have forced 89 turnovers in five games, while icing their opponents to a 31.2 field goal percentage, that tough defense will tested against their first solid opponent in Xavier which will be one of the best first round games.

#2 Kansas Jayhawks

Current Record: 5-0, 0-0 Big 12

Coach: Bill Self, 304-59 11th year at Kansas, 511-164 overall

Big Wins/L's so far: W Vs. Duke 93-84

Team Stats

PPG 87,0
OPP. PPG 67.5
FG% .568
3-point% .375
FT% .680
RPG 38.8
APG 19.3
TO. PG 12.0

Key Players:

Andrew Wiggins, Fr, G, 6'8 200 16.8 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 58.5 FG%

Perry Ellis, So, F, 6'8 225 16.8 ppg, 7.0 rpg

Joel Embiid, Fr, C, 7'0 250, 8.8 ppg, 8.0 rpb, 6 blocks

Not doubt Kansas is the favorite to take it all with a stacked lineup that has already knocked off Duke. Wiggins could be the next big thing in the NBA and certainly will lead Kansas far. Frank Mason has a 7.0 assist-to-turnover ratio and is another top level freshman leading the Jayhawks so far this season, and he comes off the bench. Wayne Selden Jr. is averaging double figures, and Tarik Black starts and has not made much noise on the stat sheet, though provides presence. The duo of Perry Ellis and Wiggins should be more than enough to take over Atlantis, which will look good on March Madness resume for a number one seed.

Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Current Record: 5-0, 0-0 ACC

Coach Record: Jeff Bzdelik, 39-60, 4th year at Wake Forest, 150-165 overall

Big Win/L's so far: None

Team Stats

PPG 85.6
OPP PPG 66.8
FG% .445
3-point% .326
FT% .642
RPG 49.2
APG 17.2
TO. PG 9.4

Key Players:

Codi Miller-McIntyre, So, G, 6'3 195, 18.6 ppg, 4.0 rpg

Devin Thomas, So, F, 6'9 245, 14.4 ppg, 11.6 rpg

Travis McKie, Sr, F, 6'7 220, 12.2 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 10 blocks

The youth on the roster lead most publications to be very down on this years team. Though they have raced out to a 5-0 start against lesser competition, Wake Forest may actually have a few pieces to at least contend in the middle of the ACC, and could possibly be a bubble team. McKie has been solid and is a leader, though they will need more production off the bench to hang with Kansas. Devin Thomas will be tested against the Jayhawks big's, staying out of foul trouble, and owning the glass should be his priority to even have chance to pull off the upset.

Villanova Wildcats

Current Record: 4-0, 0-0 Big East

Coach: Jay Wright, 261-144, 13th year at Villanova, 383-229 overall

Big Win's/L's so far: None

Team Stats

PPG 81.8
OPP. PPG 60.5
FG% .466
3-point% .255
FT% .722
RPG 42.5
APG 17.0
TO. PG 11.0

Key Players:

JayVaughn Pinkston, Jr, F, 6'7 260, 20.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 56% percent shooting

James Bell, Sr, G, 6'6 225 18.0 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 7 steals

Darrun Hilliard I, Jr, 6'6 215, 14.0 ppg, 5.0 ppg

Coming off 20-wins last season, Jay Wright and Co. are projected to finish towards the top of the Big East. Pinkston has done a swell job living up the pre-season All-Big East honors. Wright is one the best defensive coaches in America and they will shut down USC and they are a contender to take it all as they have a lot to prove with lofty pre-season expectations. USC is technically their first test of the season, though Delaware gave them a 84-80 run in their last game.

USC Trojans

Current Record: 4-1, 0-0 Pac 12

Coach: Andy Enfield, 1st year at USC, 45-29 overall

Big Wins/L's: L@ Utah State 78-65

Team Stats

PPG 75.2
OPP. PG 67.8
FG% .461
3-point% .317
FT% .650
RPG 41.8
APG 15.4
TO. PG 12.0

Key Players:

Byron Wesley, Jr, G, 6'5 210, 19.8 ppg, 8.8 ppg

Omar Oraby, Sr, C, 7'2 270, 13.6 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 18 blocks

Coach Enfield is still putting together the pieces and finding out a rotation. USC is definitely the odd man out in this tourney, though players like Oraby and Wesley will be factors in the Pac-12 race for the Trojans. Nikola Jovanovic has been disappointing statistically so far, interesting to see how this team comes together in the long run.

UTEP Miners

Current Record: 3-2, 0-0 C-USA

Coach: Tim Floyd, 61-43 4th year at UTEP, 389-223 overall

Big Wins/L's so far: W Vs. Colorado State 82-74, L@ NMSU 86-73, L Vs. NMSU 77-68

Team Stats

PPG 74.8
OPP.PG 66.4
FG% .455
3-point% .365
FT% .697
RPG 39.2
APG 15.0
TO. PG 14.2

Key Players

Julian Washburn, Jr, F, 6'8 210

McKenzie Moore, Jr, G, 6'6 210

Vince Hunter, Fr, F, 6'8 220

The Miners are the underdogs as the lone Mid-Major school in the tourney. McKenzie Moore was dearly missed in Saturday's loss to NMSU. He did make the trip and is an important piece to the Miners success. The Miners will need huge production from John Bohannon who has had a disappointing year so far, to contend against a tough Tennessee team. UTEP needs to find and identity on offense, and will be tested on defense against some bigger, and quicker teams than their C-USA foes.

MinerRush Pre-Tournament All-Tournament Team

Jordan McRae, Tennessee

Semaj Christon, Xavier

Andrew Wiggins, Kansas

Perry Ellis, Kansas

Omar Oraby, USC

TV/Game Schedule

Battle 4 Atlantis Imperial Arena (Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas)
Thursday, Nov. 28
Game 1: Villanova vs. USC (11 a.m. MDT, AXS TV)
Game 2: Kansas vs. Wake Forest (1:30 p.m. MDT, AXS TV)
Game 3: Xavier vs. Iowa (5 p.m. MDT, NBC Sports Network)
Game 4: Tennessee vs. UTEP (7:30 p.m. MDT, NBC Sports Network)

Friday, Nov. 29
Game 5: Game 3 loser vs. Game 4 loser (11 a.m. MDT, AXS TV)
Game 6: Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser (1:30 p.m. MDT, AXS TV)
Game 7: Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner (5 p.m. MDT, NBC Sports Network)
Game 8: Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner (7:30 p.m. MDT, NBC Sports Network)

Saturday, Nov. 30
7th-8th Place: Game 5 loser vs. Game 6 loser (11 a.m. MDT, AXS TV)
5th-6th Place: Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner (1:30 p.m. MDT, AXS TV)
3rd-4th Place: Game 7 loser vs. Game 8 loser (5 p.m. MDT, NBC Sports Network)
1st-2nd Place: Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner (7:30 p.m. MDT, NBC Sports Network)

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