Earlier this year, Louisville announced that it would be participating in the 2020 MGM Resorts Main Event. It is a four team tournament held in Las Vegas over Thanksgiving weekend. (CSZ Story Link)
Last month, it was reported that Arkansas, San Francisco, and Colorado State would be joining the Cards in Vegas with matchups TBD.
Jon Rothstein of CBS sports reported last week that Louisville’s first opponent would be Colorado State. The game will take place on Friday, November 20th. The championship or consolation game played on Sunday the 22nd against either Arkansas or San Francisco.
Sources: Louisville will play Colorado State and Arkansas will face San Francisco in the first round of the 2020 MGM Resorts Main Event in Las Vegas.
— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) April 16, 2020
Colorado State returns 4 of its top 5 leading scorers off of last season’s team that finished 20-12 overall and tied for fifth in the Mountain West Conference at 11-7. Given the roster turnover at San Diego State and Utah State, the Rams are thought to be among a handful of contenders in the MWC next season under third year head coach Niko Medved.
Point guard Isaiah Stevens is coming off of a freshman season where he led his team in scoring (13.3) and assists (4.5) per game on 38 percent from three-point range. David Roddy (11.4 ppg, 5.6 rpg) and Adam Thistlewood (10.2 ppg, 3.2 rpg) each return as well after averaging double digits last year. CSU had one of the better mid major offenses in the nation last season and were one of the best shooting teams in the entire country. Louisville will surely be favored, but it’s a style of play from Colorado State that could be successful in a short weekend tournament.
Arkansas headlines the other side of the bracket as Eric Musselman enters his second year as head coach. The Razorbacks finished 20-12 overall and 7-11 in the SEC last season. It was a disappointing finish to the year; they started 14-2 before losing 10 of the final 15 games. Arkansas won its first round SEC tournament game before the remaining games were cancelled.
Much like he did at Nevada, Musselman took advantage of the transfer market, bringing in three players who will be eligible next season after sitting out 2019-2020; most notably JD Notae from Jacksonville (15.5 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 3.4 apg). He picked up two more graduate transfers eligible for next season including NKU’s high scoring guard Jalen Tate.
Musselman also brings in four top-100 recruits, the 6th ranked class in the nation by 247sports. Despite all of the additions, the team’s preseason rankings and expectations will be reliant on Mason Jones’ (22.0 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 3.4 apg) and Isaiah Joe’s (16.9 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 1.7 apg) NBA Draft decisions. While Mason Jones has not officially declared that he will stay in the NBA Draft, his coach has stated in press conferences that he is operating under the assumption that Jones will not be returning to Fayetteville next season. As for Joe, he declared for the draft while keeping his options open. It’s likely a decision that will go down to the deadline.
San Francisco lost a lot off of its team last year that finished 5th in the WCC, including incoming Louisville grad transfer Charles Minlend Jr. The Dons are still expected to be around a top 125 team entering next season, but they will definitely be big underdogs against Arkansas.
This is a typical four-team early season college basketball tournament. You’ve got two high-major teams on either side of the bracket playing two mid-major opponents. Assuming both Louisville and Arkansas match up in their second game that weekend, it will likely be a quadrant-1 opportunity for the Cards.