Originally posted on The Sports Bank  |  Last updated 11/22/12
The 2012 Battle 4 Atlantis college basketball tournament tips off Thursday and is STACKED with six top 25 teams including Final Four contenders Louisville, Duke, and Missouri.  Too bad half the games are being shown on something called AXS TV while the others will be seen on NBC Sports Network (which isn’t offered to me on DirecTV even though I upgraded to the sports tier package, lame.)  Regardless, here is a preview and my predictions for how things will shake out in the Bahamas. Here is the official bracket for the 2012 Battle 4 Atlantis. QUARTERFINALS (Thursday): Louisville vs. Northern Iowa, 8:30 pm, NBC Sports Network What to Watch: The Cards have beaten up on scrub teams to the tune of nearly 32 points per game in their first three victories.  Their pressure defense has been stifling as usual but they also have more explosiveness on the offensive end led by shot happy combo guard Russ Smith.  UNI point guard Deon Mitchell must take care of the basketball since L-Ville thrives on forcing turnovers with their extremely quick guards and getting easy transition buckets.  Plain and simple; the Panthers just don’t have the athleticism to keep up with the Cardinals. Prediction: Louisville 71, Northern Iowa 54 Missouri vs. Stanford, 12:00 pm, AXS TV What to Watch: Mizzou has gotten solid contributions thus far from their three transfers; Alex Oriakhi, Earnest Ross, and Keion Bell.  Oriakhi is averaging a double-double and looks rejuvinated after struggling last season with UConn.  Laurence Bowers has returned from injury and looks 100% while freshman wing Negus Webster-Chan has been a solid sparkplug off the bench.  Suspended Tiger guard Michael Dixon will reportedly make the trip to the Bahamas though his playing status is still unclear.  Getting him back in the lineup would be a huge boost for Mizzou.  The Cardinal are coming off a lackluster home loss to Belmont and while the program is back on the rise, they don’t have enough talent to compete with the Tigers. Prediction: Missouri 77, Stanford 68 Memphis vs. VCU, 6:00 pm, NBC Sports Network What to Watch: This is going to be a very scrappy game as both teams like to dig in defensively and aren’t afraid to dive on the court.  The maturity of the Tigers’ junior class will be the key to Memphis’ success this season and I think VCU has the aggressiveness and length on the wing to force guys like Joe Jackson and Chris Crawford into bad decisions and forcing the issue too much. Prediction: VCU 57, Memphis 55 Duke vs. Minnesota, 2:30 pm, AXS TV What to Watch: The Blue Devils’ experience trumped Kentucky’s youthful talent last week in Atlanta marking a huge early season victory for Coach K.  Mason Plumlee has taken the leap thus far in his senior season while Seth Curry and Rasheed Sulaimon are providing the three-point punch on the wing.  Trevor Mbakwe has still been limited somewhat for the Gophers and Minnesota just doesn’t have the firepower to compete with the Blue Devils unless he at full strength. Prediction: Duke 81, Minnesota 67 SEMIFINALS (Friday): Louisville vs. Missouri, 6:00 pm, NBC Sports Network What to Watch: The Peyton Siva-Flip Pressey match-up at the point is going to be a treat to watch.  Both guys are incredibly quick with the basketball and will get into their opponents shorts on the defensive end.  L-Ville and Mizzou like to play 94 feet of basketball so it should be a fast paced game.  I just think the Cards have too many weapons. Prediction: Louisville 82, Missouri 64 VCU vs. Duke, 8:30 pm, NBC Sports Network What to Watch: This is a rematch of the 2007 NCAA Tournament upset when VCU’s Eric Maynor hit a game-winner to knock off Duke in the first round.  The Rams really uses a four guard lineup so it will be interesting to see how they match-up with the Blue Devil bigs, Plumlee and Ryan Kelly.  VCU will make it difficult with their hard-nosed style of defense and will test Duke’s toughness. Prediction: Duke 68, VCU 60 FIFTH PLACE GAME (Saturday) Stanford vs. Minnesota, 2:30, AXS TV What to Watch: Yup, I have Memphis losing to Minnesota.  Consider them the Texas of this tournament.  The Gophs guard play of Andre Hollins, Austin Hollins, and Joe Coleman have played well thus far and will need to be on top of their game to upset Memphis and then knock off the Cardinal.  Mbakwe has been easing his way back into the rotation so it will be interesting to see how his knee handles a third game in three days. Prediction: Minnesota 64, Stanford 62 THIRD PLACE GAME (Saturday): Missouri vs. VCU, 6:00, NBC Sports Network What to Watch: VCU’s depth will serve as an advantage during this tournament stretch while the Tigers are pretty thin in their backcourt.  If the Rams can slow Mizzou down, they have a real chance of pulling off another upset but I think Missouri has too much strength down low to let that happen. Prediction: Missouri 73, VCU 70 CHAMPIONSHIP GAME (Saturday): Louisville vs. Duke, 8:30 pm, NBC Sports Network What to Watch: The Blue Devils knocked off Kentucky last week, can they do the same against another top five team from the Bluegrass State?  I don’t think so.  The pressure and quickness of Siva and Smith will be too much for the Duke guards to handle and Gorgui Dieng should be able to limit Plumlee’s effectiveness inside. Prediction: Louisville 88, Duke 83 David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank.  He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.  David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu.  He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet (Yup, repeat champ… #humblebrag.) You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.
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