Sizzling in the Spotlight: Bennett & Wesner's Paradise Jam Predictions
Photo courtesy of Dave Crenshaw and AP Photo.

Sizzling in the Spotlight: Bennett & Wesner's Paradise Jam Predictions

"Here I am Rock you like a hurricane!" The Tulsa Golden Hurricane are coming to the U.S. Virgin Islands as a "Category 5" after their win over Wichita State. Can their velocity continue to increase as the weekend goes on? Check our experts' predictions for the Paradise Jam.

peyton-wesner
Peyton Wesner

It's that time of year again ladies and gentlemen! What? You don't know? It's time for family get-togethers and early season college basketball tournaments. 

So with these very exciting events about tip-off, VAVEL US own Tyler Bennett and Peyton Wesner have decided to do a special "Sizzling in the Spotlight" for all twenty November tourneys, including the Paradise Jam.

1:00 PM EST
2-0 Ohio - 2-0 Tulsa

Coming In:
Ohio: 75-67 Win - Tennessee State
Tulsa: 77-67 Win - #9 Wichita State

Players to Watch:
Ohio:
Jaaron Simmons (SO)
---17.5 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 6.0 APG, & 1.0 SPG.
Tulsa:
Shaquille Harrison (SR)
---21.0 PPG, 6.0 RPG, & 2.0 SPG.

3:30 PM EST
2-0 Hofstra - 2-0 Florida State (CBS Sports Network)

Coming In:
Hofstra: 96-64 Win - Molloy
Florida State: 98-79 Win - Jacksonville

Players to Watch:
Hofstra:
Juan'ya Green (SR)
---16.5 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 9.5 APG, & 2.5 SPG.
Florida State:
Dwayne Bacon (FR)
---25.0 PPG, 8.5 RPG, & 1.5 SPG.

6:00 PM EST
1-1 DePaul - 2-0 South Carolina (CBS Sports Network)

Coming In:
DePaul: 68-62 Loss @ Penn State
South Carolina: 84-66 Win - Oral Roberts

Players to Watch:
DePaul:
Myke Henry (SR)
---16.5 PPG, 6.0 RPG, & 1.0 SPG.
South Carolina:
Laimonas Chatkevicius (SR)
---20.0 PPG, 5.0 RPG, & 1.0 BPG.

8:30 PM EST
1-1 Indiana State - 1-1 Norfolk State

Coming In:
Indiana State: 70-55 Win - Wyoming
Norfolk State: 78-58 Win - Washington Adventist

Players to Watch:
Indiana State:
Devonte Brown (SR)
---20.0 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 5.5 APG, & 2.0 SPG.
Norfolk State:
Jeff Short (SR)
---18.0 PPG, 3.0 RPG, & 2.5 APG.

Bennett's Bracket

Quarterfinals:
Tulsa is riding the high of knocking off the high-powered Wichita State Shockers in their last outing, and have all the confidence in the world as they enter the Paradise Jam. They were a legitimate championship contender (for this tournament) before the win over Wichita State, but now they very well could be the front-runners. James Woodard and Shaquille Harrison are a strong backcourt duo, and will give the Bobcats all sorts of fits. Jaaron Simmons has been big for Ohio this season, and will need to be again on Friday. Tulsa rolls to an easy victory. 
---Tulsa 84, Ohio 71

This game between two talented mid-major programs may get overlooked due to the power conference teams in the field, but it could provide the most excitement. Indiana State will bring senior guard Devonte Brown to the battle, and Norfolk State will counter with MEAC Preseason Player of the Year in Jeff Short. This is an underrated, yet must-see, guard battle that will determine the winner. The Spartans will pull off the minor upset, as the Sycamores end up on the “Short” end of things (yes, the pun was fully intended).
---Norfolk State 77, Indiana State 74

The mid-major team with the best chance to win the tournament is Hofstra, without question. Led by Juan’ya Green, the Pride are one of the better mid-major programs in the country, and are more than capable of pulling off an upset or two. They got the short end of the draw, so to speak, and have to take on a high-powered Florida State team. Freshman Dwayne Bacon is developing quite nicely, and Xavier Rathan-Mayes is still as lethal as ever. The Seminoles’ offensive firepower will carry them to a hard-fought victory. 
---Florida State 80, Hofstra 74

The bottom half of the Paradise Jam bracket is without a doubt the tougher of the two halves, with South Carolina taking on DePaul to face the winner of FSU/Hofstra. Sindarius Thornwell and the Gamecocks are a much-improved team this season, and have played well to open his newest campaign. As for DePaul, they have the talent to compete, but not as much as South Carolina. The Gamecocks will roll over the Blue Demons, en route to the semi-finals.
---South Carolina 81, DePaul 71

Semi-Finals:

---Tulsa 78, Norfolk State 69

---Florida State 88, South Carolina 74

Championship:
The semi-finals and finals bring forth some stellar guard match-ups, and put some great talent on display down in the Virgin Islands. With James Woodard taking on Jeff Short and Xavier Rathan-Mayes taking on SIndarius Thornwell in the semi-finals, one cannot go wrong with either game. While all four teams have great guards on their roster, winning the Paradise Jam will come down to the play of the forwards. The Florida State Seminoles have the best crop of forwards in the field, and will come away with the tournament title.
---Florida State 82, Tulsa 79

Wesner's Bracket

Quarterfinals:
Coming off a huge win over Wichita State, Tulsa is playing their best basketball. Plus, the dynamic backcourt duo of Shaquille Harrison and James Woodard isn't being left to do as much of the heavy lifting in comparision to last season, for Marquel Curtis, Pat Birt, and D'Andre Wright have all improved drastically. Therefore, the Ohio Bobcats' guards of Jaaron Simmons and Jordan Dartis will not be eased into the action on the U.S. Virgin Islands, but thrown into the hurricane. Make sure to keep an eye on the best guard duo in the American Athletic Conference (Harrison and Woodard) because they are great talents and fun to watch.
---Tulsa 77, Ohio 62

Following an opening night home loss to IUPUI, a cloud of uncertainty made its way over the Indiana State Sycamores' program. Could the doubts re-surface tonight against Norfolk State? With one of the best--if not the best,--players in the MEAC (Jeff Short), the Spartans are looking to start their quest outside the states with a victory. Tonight's night-cap will, without a doubt, be a battle of the guards, for the Sycamores have the terrific trio of Devonte Brown, Khristian Smith, and Brenton Scott while Norfolk State has Short, Charles Oliver, and Jordan Butler. If anyone can be an unexpected difference maker tonight it will be Indiana State big man Matt Van Scyoc. Van Scyoc, a transfer from The Citadel, finally looked comfortable for the Sycs as he posted 13 points versus Wyoming on Monday night. Don't necessarily expect much production from either team's frontcourt; though, Van Scyoc's play could be the push Indiana State needs to move into the semi-finals.
---Indiana State 71, Norfolk State 67

Though the South Carolina Gamecocks have yet to face an opponent of a power conference this season, they are more than prepared to take on DePaul. In their first two games, Frank Martin's club has handedly defeated two "up and coming" mid-majors in Norfolk State and Oral Roberts. More impressively, in the contests South Carolina has held their opponents' leading scorer from the prior season (Jeff Short of Norfolk State and Obi Emegano for Oral Roberts) to a combined field goal percentage of 40.6%. Additionally, their offense is much improved in contrast to a year ago shown in four players averaging double-figures coming into this evening. Despite the Blue Demons having two really good players in Myke Henry and Billy Garrett Jr, the Gamecocks will fly on.
---South Carolina 74, DePaul 68

Oh, this is going to be interesting! The Hofstra Pride is one of the best teams in all of mid-major basketball. Led by 2015-2016 CAA Preseason Player of the Year Juan'ya Green and a plethora of hungry double-digit scorers Hofstra will be looking to deal out an upset to Florida State this afternoon. After Aaron Thomas was dismissed, the Seminoles' were not the same team last season, for they could not fill the gaping hole left by him. Luckily for head coach Leonard Hamilton, freshmen Dwayne Bacon and Malik Beasley have come into Tallahassee and played even better than the former star by averaging more than twenty points per game to start their individual campaigns. Though Hofstra has much more experience, the youth of the Seminoles (including sophomore Xavier Rathan-Mayes) will be throwing arrows from downtown in a small but impressive victory.
---Florida State 84, Hofstra 76

Semi-Finals:
---Tulsa 80, Indiana State 67

---Florida State 70, South Carolina 68

Championship:
In what will be an exciting tournament and championship, the Tulsa Golden Hurricane will be hoisting the trophy on Monday night. While the case can be made that Tulsa is only the safe pick (considering their weak half of the bracket in comparison to Florida State's), the team is much more experienced than the Seminoles. With the same thought in mind, how will Florida State's young guards of Dwayne Bacon, Malik Beasley, and Xavier Rathan-Mayes be able to contain and shutdown Shaquille Harrison and James Woodard? It's simple, they won't be able to! While this journalist gives Tulsa's guards the advantage, Florida State has the edge when it comes to post players, specifically 7'3" Boris Bojanovsky. When these two teams meet, Bojanovsky will have at least a 6 inch height advantage on any of the Golden Hurricane's rotation big men! However, Bojanovsky is vulnerable to foul trouble, which will be his Achilles heel with Tulsa's slashers going up strong in the paint.
---Tulsa 74, Florida State 73

Point System for Paradise Jam:
1 pt for each quarterfinal win
2 pts for each semi-final win
4 pts for correctly choosing the champion

Standings:
1. Bennett 45 pts (43-15)
2. Wesner 43 pts (42-16)

VAVEL Logo