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Tarkanian Classic Predictions

We decided to have a bit of fun and predict the Platinum Division bracket of the Tarkanian Classic. We’d like to read what you think about our predictions and would like to see your mock bracket in the comments section below. The two main points to take away is this was done in good fun because about a dozen teams can beat any other team in the field on any given day, and that national rankings are not necessarily a predictor of games.

2014 Tarkanian Classic Bracket Challenge
(GrassrootsHoops.net Publisher Ronnie Flores takes a stab at predicting the main draw of the Tarkanian Classic, which will take place in Las Vegas December 17-20. We’d like to see how you think the championship bracket will play out and we’ll have a prize for the person that publishes their bracket in the comments section below and comes closest to predicting the actual results.)  

RELATED: Tarkanian Classic Results

Top Bracket
FAB 50 No. 39 Constitution (Philadelphia) 1-0 vs. FAB 50 bubble Redondo Union (Redondo Beach, Calif.) 4-2
Redondo Union began the season in the FAB 50 but already has lost to No. 42 and Tark participant Long Beach Poly and No. 46 St. Joseph (Westchester, Ill.). Constitution has less games under its belt, but the coaching staff has experience at the Tark Classic and knows what to expect. Constitution believes it has the toughness and the horses on the perimeter to slow down Redondo Union guard Leland Green, but the Sea Hawks are one of the tougher teams in California and really get after it defensively on the perimeter. Redondo’s guards will be able to hand the pressure just well enough to get Green off in the second half. He’s playing with alot of confidence and the games under its belt with help Redondo in this one.
Winner: Redondo Union

Unranked Foothills Christian (El Cajon, Calif.) 6-0* vs. unranked Chino Hills (Chino Hills, Calif.) 3-1
Chino Hills began the season No. 43 in the FAB 50, but a loss to Price (Los Angeles) at the Rose City Roundball Classic dropped them from the national rankings. Are the Huskies a good team? Yes, but without their 30-day transfers, UCLA commit Lonzo Ball has to play at a spectacular level in order for Chino Hills to play at the FAB 50 level. Even in the loss to Price, he did do that, but it remains to be seen if the Huskies have the size and depth to contend with the top teams in this bracket. Foothills Christian is unbeaten on the court, but none of the teams it has defeated has the talent of Chino Hills, nor will they be prepared for seeing the Gurus-of-Go style offense that coach Steve Baik employs. Baik has said this team has a ways to go to reach last season’s level, but Foothills Christian will be a bit overmatched. Everyone knows about T.J. Leaf, but the Tarkanian Classic will be the coming out party for the Knights’ 2018 prospect Jordan Starr. 
Winner: Chino Hills

FAB 50 bubble Lone Peak (Highland, Utah) 5-1 vs. No. 48 West Linn (West Linn, Ore.) 1-0
Lone Peak started the season No. 50 in the FAB 50, but a loss to Bogan (Chicago, Ill.) on the road dropped them, while other teams losing and playing more games has allowed West Linn to move into the FAB 50 after starting No. 13 in the West Region rankings right behind the Knights. West Linn’s ranking is a perfect example of some teams benefiting or being hurt by playing a bunch of games before the big holiday tournaments. Teams are not at the same point in their seasons and it’s reflected in the FAB 50. If you like guards, this game is for you as there will be an orgy of talent in the backcourt. BYU commit Frank Jackson has played lights out so far, but West Linn’s Anthony Mathis (New Mexico) and Payton Pritchard (Oklahoma) are smart, dynamic and clutch.  This game will come down to the wire and Pritchard will set up or make the winning play.
Winner: West Linn

FAB 50 No. 12 Centennial (Corona, Calif.) 3-0 vs. unranked Clark (Las Vegas) 5-2
The local club already has a win over Centennial (Las Vegas) but this Centennial group is a totally different animal. Centennial is the most explosive team (collectively) in the field and will get by the pesky Chargers. One area of concern is Centennial is prone to playing down to the level of competition and has lulls where it looks average. That is usually followed by an explosive quarter or sequence of plays that just derails teams. 
Winner: Centennial

Bottom Bracket
Unranked Windward (Los Angeles) 6-0 vs. FAB 50 bubble Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nev.) 6-2
Seems kind of odd to see the Gaels out of the FAB 50, but a loss to two-loss Jesuit (Carmichael, Calif.) leaves the nation’s preseason No. 4 team on the outside looking in. Are all 50 teams in this week’s rankings better than Gorman? Probably not, but that’s how it’s has played out so far. Gorman wants to make a statement in this tournament and doesn’t want to lose in the friendly confines of its home gym. Windward has talent and some good wins under its belt, but it won’t have big-time football recruit Roy Hemsely and with Breland Brandt just warming up following football season, the Gaels’ size and talent will be a bit too much.
Winner: Bishop Gorman

Unranked Overland (Aurora, Col.) 2-2 vs. unranked Bountiful (Bountiful, Utah) 2-2
This game will pit two teams that want to show they have what it takes to compete in the winner’s bracket of this field. Overland recently lost to Lone Peak by four points (75-71) and to an excellent Regis Jesuit (Aurora, Col.) team. That game experience, not to mention the inside presence of De’Ron Davis and the all-around gamesmanship of Austin Conway, will be a bit too much for Bountiful to keep up with.
Winner: Overland

FAB 50 No. 33 Putnam City West (Oklahoma City, Okla.) 5-0 vs. No. 42 Poly (Long Beach, Calif.) 7-1
This is an excellent first round matchup and we think the winner of this game has an excellent chance to make the semifinals. Poly defeated Redondo Union at the Pac-Shores Tournament, but stumbled in the finals of the Beverly Hills Tournament vs. state-ranked Loyola (Los Angeles). We could have dropped the Jackrabbits out of the FAB 50, but we weren’t yet ready to rank them behind Redondo Union, not with this game coming up and with their resume so far. Poly’s Jordan Dallas could make a real impact because the Pirates don’t have any real size. Don’t be fooled, Putnam City gets after it defensively while Tyson Jolly and Nick Robinson can really score and excel in the open court. Poly is prone to scoring droughts, but the Loyola game was a wake up call and the tough competition it has played so far will make a difference in crunch time in this game.
Winner: Poly   

FAB 50 bubble Prestonwood Christian Academy (Plano, Texas) 11-2 vs. Maranatha (Pasadena, Calif.)  2-2
We talked to Maranatha coach Tim Tucker on Tuesday and he isn’t sure talented transfer center Trevor Stanback will play in this tournament. If he doesn’t, guard Tyler Dorsey will need to have a monster game for the Minutemen to stay in this contest. Prestonwood has FAB 50 ability, but its backcourt play must be consistent for the Lions to have a chance at the semifinals. Even if Stanback is cleared to play, he won’t be as game-ready as Prestonwood’s big men Schnider Herard and Djery Baptiste. Having 13 games and some tough ones under its belt will pay dividends for PCA.
Winner: Prestonwood Christian Academy

Redondo over Chino Hills
Sophomore Billy Preston takes advantage inside as the outside shots won’t hit at a high enough rate for the Huskies.
Centennial over West Linn
The Huskies defend on-ball, gap, and help just enough to slow down West Linn’s guards.
Gorman over Overland
De’Ron Davis plays well, but the twin towers of Stephen Zimmerman and Chase Jeter relax and come up big after playing tight early against Windward.
Prestonwood Christian Academy over Poly
Poly’s guards do a number on PCA, but a third quarter scoring drought allows the Texans to pull out a close win.

Centennial over Redondo Union
The Sea Hawks play much better than they did in last year’s semis vs. Mater Dei, but Khalil Ahmad is the X-factor with his hustle plays.
Gorman over Prestonwood Christian Academy
There is beef throwing each other all around in the paint, but the skill and passing ability of Stephen Zimmerman is the difference and Gorman gets key minutes from Deon Whiteside.  

Championship Game:
Centennial over Gorman
The Huskies are not just a three-guard attack. They get enough inside from Jalen Hill (shot blocking) and Ike Anigbogu (couple of garbage baskets) to pull out the victory. Whichever team’s big men get in foul trouble first will lose. 

Ronnie Flores is the Publisher and Editor of GrassrootsHoops.net. He can be reached at ronlocc1977@yahoo.com. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @RonMFlores


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