The Charleston Classic won't help Northwestern's NCAA bid much


With the announced return of John Shurna for his senior season in purple, the Wildcats are seriously contending for their first-ever NCAA tournament appearance this season. Even ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi agrees.

But teams like Ohio State and Wisconsin will likely stand in the way of an automatic berth, so the Wildcats will have to earn an at-large spot. To do that they need to build an impressive resume during the regular season.

We already know that Georgia Tech is coming to Welsh-Ryan next season, but a win against a bottom-tier ACC team will do nothing for Northwestern's resume.

Today we learned that the Wildcats will be playing in the 2011 Charleston Classic. Now in its fourth year, this four-day eight-team tourney won't provide much help either.

Just look at the field for 2011: Georgia Tech (89, 2010-11 KenPom rank; 13-18, 2010-11 overall record); LSU (227, 11-21); St. Joseph's (183, 11-22); Seton Hall (59, 13-18); Tulsa (90, 19-13); VCU (52; 28-12) and Western Kentucky (225, 16-16).

Obviously, Shaka Smart's VCU team stands out here, but these are not the same Rams that lost to Butler in the Final Four this past April. The VCU back-court, including the team's top four scorers, has been gutted in the offseason. Junior guard Bradford Burgess has a lot of slack to pick up.

Still, a win over this now-household VCU team would be the most quality win that Northwestern could take away from the Charleston Classic, by far. None of the other teams offer any sort of resume prestige that the Wildcats will need later in the season.

If they meet, Tulsa and Seton Hall may give Northwestern problems (the full schedule hasn't been released yet), especially returning SHU forward Herb Pope who pulled down a 20.5 percent DR% last season. A loss to either of those teams could be problematic come post-season time.

Northwestern is easily the favorite in this field, but how has that worked out for the past three Charleston Classic winners?

  • In 2010 Georgetown beat Coastal Carolina, Wofford and NC State (a similarly weak field) to win the tournament. The Hoyas earned a No. 6 at-large seed in the NCAA tournament and finished 21-11.
  • In 2009 Miami beat Tulane, UNC-Wilmington and South Carolina (weak again) to win the tournament. The Hurricanes didn't make the NCAA or the NIT tournament for only the second time under Frank Haith and finished 20-13.
  • In 2008 Clemson beat Hofstra, TCU and Temple (Temple made the NCAA tournament that season as a 12-seed) to win the tournament. The Tigers earned an at-large No. 7 seeding in the NCAA tournament and finished 23-8.

So two of the three teams that won the Charleston Classic have appeared in the NCAA tournament in that same season. There's not much that can be said about that.

It will be interesting to see what other teams will round out the Wildcats' non-conference schedule. So far things really aren't coming together on that front.


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  • Bradford Burgess is a limited role player for VCU?? You are aware that he played more minutes than anyone else on the team last year, right? You're also aware that he averaged over 14 points and 6 boards a game, while shooting over 43% from behind the line, yes?

  • In reply to xjohnx:

    Yes, I am absolutely aware of those things. By limited role player I mean to refer to Ken Pomeroy's possession-based definition. Burgess took less than 20% of VCU's possessions last season -- the fifth most on the team -- minutes and stats completely aside.

  • In reply to cbburrows:

    If you are going to use KenPom to validate your point, you could at least get it right. Pom has four categories, Significant Contributors 20%-24%, Role Players 16%-20%, Limited Role Players 12%-16%, and Nearly Invisible <12%. So according to you Bradford is a "Limited Role Player", which is wrong. Even by your own reporting of the stat at 20%, that is the upper side of Role Player within 1 point of Signifacant Contributer. But it is ok, bend, twist, and misquote in order to skew things for team, that is what most local reporters do.

  • In reply to cbburrows:


    I wont try to bash you but did you actually think about your comment? VCU went 11 deep as such only Skeen or maybe Rodriguez took more than 20% of VCU possession. Rodriguez because he was at point and Skeen because he was leading scorer, rebounder, and leading option.

    However, Burgess has started every game the last three games. He has the second leading scorer and rebounder on a final four team, hit the game winning shot against florida state to propel his team into the elite 8, the leading scorer by far for the Purdue, and Florida State NCAA games and leading rebounder in two others.

    Limited Role player. The kids nick name is Big Shot Brad! I do give you that he isn't very aggressive on offense but he can flat out give it up at will and isn't a "limited role player"
    by any means.

    Unless you believe that the 2nd leading scorer and rebounder, as well as best 3 point shooter, and 2nd best fg percentage, and leader in minutes played on a final 4 team is considered a "limited role player"

    If that's the definition then I believe that many in the country are actively looking for "limited role players"

  • In reply to cbburrows:

    Correction: Meant Burgess has started every game the past 3 years. Also, he was

  • In reply to cbburrows:

    Looks like I earned ChicagoNow a few new members today.

    I completely stick to what I said -- Burgess' 19.8 poss% qualifies him as a "Role Player" under Ken Pomeroy's system ( It wasn't a slight towards him, or VCU or the angry fans. It was an entirely objective statement on an objective subject -- Burgess' performance during any part of the season and at any time completely and totally aside.

    Just to be sure, I took the phrase out anyway.

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