Sizzling in the Spotlight: Bennett & Wesner's Hall Of Fame Tip-Off Predictions

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 Hall of Fame Tip-Off.

Nasmith Bracket

12:00 PM EST
3-0 Old Dominion - 3-0 #21 Purdue

Coming In:
Old Dominion: 79-48 Win - Morgan State
Purdue: 96-61 Win - Incarnate Word

Players to Watch:
Old Dominion:
Trey Freeman (SR)
---17.7 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 2.7 APG, & 1.0 SPG.
Caleb Swanigan (FR)
---11.7 PPG, 10.0 RPG, & 2.3 APG.

2:30 PM EST
2-0 Florida - 3-0 Saint Joseph's

Coming In:
Florida: 104-54 Win - North Carolina A&T
Saint Joseph's: 89-67 Win - Buffalo

Players to Watch:
Devin Robinson (SO)
---14.0 PPG, 8.5 RPG, & 1.5 BPG.
Saint Joseph's:
Isaiah Miles (SR)
---17.0 PPG, 9.3 RPG, 1.3 SPG, & 2.3 BPG.

Bennett's Bracket

Even without A.J. Hammons in the starting lineup this season, the Purdue Boilermakers haven’t faltered and have looked rather impressive in the process. Isaac Haas and Caleb Swanigan have been big factors in the frontcourt, while UT-Arlington transfer Johnny Hill is getting acclimated in the back court. Old Dominion is one of the best programs from a mid-major conference this season, and Trey Freeman's Monarchs will cause problems for the Boilermakers. Ideally, this would have been the tournament final, but it’s not, and Purdue comes away with a victory to send them forward.
---Purdue 86, Old Dominion 78

With the way early season tournaments have started Thursday and Friday, nothing can be ruled out until the final buzzer goes off. Saint Joseph’s and Florida both enter with perfect records, and are both capable of coming away victorious. DeAndre Bembry is a problem for any team to defend in the middle, giving the Hawks a big boost. With the game being played in Connecticut, it’s more of a ‘home’ game for the Hawks than the Gators, which will push them over the edge.
---Saint Joseph’s 78, Florida 75

The battle of big men in this contest has to have every basketball fan excited about what they could see on the hardwood. Bembry battling in the paint with the likes of Haas and Swanigan would be something everyone wants to see. More pressure would be put on the guards to take advantage of their opportunities, and Purdue’s backcourt will carry them to a tournament victory.
---Purdue 81, Saint Joseph’s 70

Wesner's Bracket

Entertainingly, all four teams enter the Naismith Bracket undefeated. Yet, only one will leave unbeaten when the showcase concludes. Following last season's NIT Final Four run, Old Dominion's dynamic duo of Trey Freeman and Aaron Bacote look to end this season in the NCAA Tournament. Considering the following, today's game against Purdue--and tomorrow's for that matter--presents a great opportunity for the Monarchs to collect resumé wins. The Caleb Swanigan era could not have started any better in West Lafayette, for the "fab freshman" enters today's action averaging a double-double while the Boilermakers are 3-0. However, instead of Swanigan, Issac Haas, and A.J. Hammons in the frontcourt, guards Rapheal Davis and Kendall Stephens must play well against Old Dominion's "star seniors" in order to come away victorious.
---Purdue 78, Old Dominion 71

Today is the moment of truth for the Florida Gators. Without Billy Donovan at the helm, will U of F be mentally prepared to take on a veteran Saint Joseph's squad? Yes, yes they will! Although the Gators' starters stats are inferior to the Hawks, they have a much more athletic support cast around "stud sophomore" Devin Robinson. Additionally, should we really expect Dorian Finney-Smith, Devon Walker, and Kasey Hill to really average under double-figures this season? Seriously? These men have great talent when it comes to the game of basketball! Though, Phil Martelli's has great ability as well. Flying high from Philadelphia, Isaiah Miles is hunting for a great season to go out on. So far, he has been amazing as he is almost averaging a double-double. This afternoon's contest shall be close, but the Gators will chomp to the championship.
---Florida 78, St. Joseph's 76

For those who feel Purdue is unworthy of being ranked, this will be the game to quiet the critics somewhat. With their frontcourt praised by analysts, Isaac Hass, A.J. Hammons, and Caleb Swanigan will finally validate their value by outperforming the Gators' Devin Robinson and Dorian Finney-Smith. With tomorrow's championship having the potential to come down to the wire, the Boilermakers' experience in guards Rapheal Davis and Kendall Stephens will be the defining factor, for they will not turnover the ball in crunch time.
---Purdue 77, Florida 76

Springfield Bracket

5:00 PM EST
1-2 Niagara - 1-2 Vermont

Coming In:
Niagara: 75-66 Win - Arkansas State
Vermont: 83-70 Win - Quinnipiac

Players to Watch:
Matt Scott (SO)
---18.7 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 3.0 APG, & 1.3 BPG.
Trae Bell-Haynes (SO)
---13.7 PPG, 3.3 RPG, & 4.3 APG.

7:30 PM EST
1-2 Buffalo - 0-3 North Carolina A&T

Coming In:
Buffalo: 89-67 Loss - Saint Joseph's
North Carolina A&T: 94-87 Loss - Roanoke College

Players to Watch:
Rodell Wigginton (SR)
---14.0 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 2.0 SPG, & 1.7 BPG.
North Carolina A&T:
Bruce Beckford (SR)
---21.0 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 2.0 APG, & 2.0 SPG.

Bennett's Bracket:

Both the Catamounts and Purple Eagles scored their first wins of the season in their last outing, and will be looking to build onto momentum. On offense, Vermont has more options to put points on the board, in Trae Bell-Haynes and Ethan O’Day atop the list. Niagara will counter with Matt Scott and Justin Satchell, but Vermont’s depth will push them over the top.
---Vermont 75, Niagara 72

The Buffalo Bulls are coming off back-to-back losses after opening the season with a win, while North Carolina A&T is 0-3 on the year. Bruce Beckford is one of the best mid-major players in the NCAA, but the Aggies need more support from their role players if they want to end their losing streak. Lamonte Bearden and Blake Hamilton will lead the way for the Bulls, and their balanced offensive attack will lead to a victory.
---Buffalo 78, North Carolina A&T 68

When one thinks of mid-major games, having two teams with similarities creates an exciting game, regardless of who is playing. In the finals of the Springfield Bracket, Ethan O’Day, Trae Bell-Haynes and the Vermont Catamounts will do battle with Lamonte Bearden, Rodell Wigginton and the Buffalo Bulls. This is the type of game fans should want to see, as it will be full of talent, and closely contested until to the end. When the buzzer goes, Vermont will have come away with the slimmest of victories.
---Vermont 77, Buffalo 76

Wesner's Bracket

Due to experience, Vermont will roll over Niagara. Not that the Purple Eagles don't have enough talent to get the win (Matt Scott and Justin Satchel), the Catamounts know exactly what to do when tournament time arrives (yes, early season tourneys included). Although the aforementioned Scott can be a load on the offensive and defensive boards, Trae Bell-Haynes will neutralize his opponent's impact with his defense. Therefore, without Scott being a huge factor, Niagara will run into turbulence on offense end because of the inability Satchel and freshman Emile Blackman to score at will.
---Vermont 74, Niagara 62

For the Siena Saints, this journalist felt they would win the 2K Classic subregional as a benefit from playing two tough teams to open the season. He does not foresee the same for the North Carolina A&T Aggies. North Carolina A&T began the 2015-2016 campaign with road games at Purdue and at Florida. To keep things brief, they didn't go well! The Aggies were held to 40 and 54 points respectively while "star senior" Bruce Beckford was held to 9 and 16. Although Beckford did show his scoring and rebounding prowess against Roanoke College with 38 points and 16 boards, he shall not have similar success tonight. Even with Buffalo slowly adjusting to life without Bobby Hurley at the helm, the Bulls, led by Rodell Washington and Lamonte Bearden, will have no trouble charging to victory on a neutral floor.
---Buffalo 80, North Carolina A&T 62

If you are in Uncasville for the Hall of Fame Tip-Off, do not leave after the championship of the Naismith Bracket! Stick around for the championship of the Springfield Bracket because the competition is bound to be exciting. On Sunday night to conclude the 2015-2016 Hall of Fame Tip-Off, Vermont and Buffalo will go head-to-head for the trophy. Yet, who will go home with it? When Vermont comes to mind, one must remember their second half debacle at Eastern Michigan in the first game of the college basketball season. Nevertheless, you should not expect such a disaster to occur again. Despite the Bulls having a great mixture of experience and youth, the Catamounts post presence, specifically Ethan O'Day and Darren Payen, shall be too much for Buffalo. An entertaining "one-on-one" battle to keep an eye on will be between the team's respective "Players to Watch" (Vermont's Trae Bell-Haynes & Buffalo's Rodell Wigginton) as it will truly be youth versus experience.
---Vermont 73, Buffalo 71

Point System for Hall of Fame Tip-Off
1 pts for each semi-final win
3 pts for correctly choosing the champion

1. Wesner 58 pts (55-22)
2. Bennett 58 pts (54-23)