CJBL Tournament - North Bracket Preview

  • By Michael Miller, Day 161, 2021

North Bracket

Ohio State (#1) vs. Belmont (#16)
Illinois (#8) vs. Louisville (#9)
Texas A&M (#4) vs. Siena (#13)
Providence (#5) vs. St. Bonaventure (#12)
USC (#2) vs. Hartford (#15)
Saint Marys (CA) (#6) vs. Mississippi State (#11)
Cincinnati (#3) vs. Alabama-Birmingham (#14)
Wake Forest (#7) vs. DePaul (#10)

Draft Prospects to Watch

C/PF Jarnell Doaks - Ohio State
SF/SG Jordan Grant - Ohio State
SG/SF Cortez Ellison - USC
C/PF Latrell Mason - Cincinnati
PG Bryce Cleveland - Wake Forest
SF Devin Wallace - Wake Forest
PG Keyon Barber - Louisville
C/PF Juan Vazquez - Louisville

Opening Round Preview - Despite being the 3rd overall top seed, the Ohio State Buckeyes may have the easiest road to the CJBL Final Four of any team. The Buckeyes are a powerhouse team who finished with the 3rd highest RPI, the second highest offensive efficiency and second highest effective field goal rate in the country. C/PF Jarnell Doaks is the best prospect in the draft whom you have not heard of, and with a strong performance, we project he will leap into the top half of the lottery following the tournament. Louisville has had a strong season, but we think PG Keyon Barber and C/PF Juan Vazquez are a bit too immature to make a real challenge against the Buckeyes in the second round. Expect Louisville to be a top seed next year, when their highly regarded draft class joins the Cardinals. Also keep an eye out for Siena. They shot the 3rd most three-pointers in the country this season, and if those shots start falling, they could challenge a somewhat overseeded Texas A&M team. Perhaps the most underrated team in this bracket, however, is the Providence Friars. Expected to be a rebuilding year with three starting freshman, the Friars were a top competitor in the Big East finishing with a 24-9 record. Although he is not considered to be a possible early entrant in the upcoming draft class, keep an eye on SF/SG Caribe Robinson a 17-year old out of Harrisonburg Virginia. With 1.42 steals per game and 1.1 blocks, he has shown nice defensive potential for a raw prospect. Towards the bottom of the bracket, everyone should be eagerly anticipating the expected second round matchup between Cincinnati and Wake Forest. Cincinnati, who arguably should have received consideration for a #1 seed, has the potential top draft pick in C/PF Latrell Mason. Wake Forest is no slouch in potential draft prospects, as PG Bryce Cleveland (2nd in CJBL in steals and assists) and SF Devin Wallace are expected pros. Indeed, this is a fantastic opportunity for Wallace to show the potential he exhibited as a star prep school athlete. A great tournament showing may elevate him back into 1st round consideration. DePaul is already a Cinderella story, as they upset both Villanova and Georgetown to win the Big East Tournament Championship. Nevertheless, we believe they will not put up much of a fight against Wake Forest. Last, but not least, USC and its high flying sophomore SG/SF Cortez Ellison will be a tough out in this bracket. We think they will have a relatively easy time getting to the Sweet 16, setting up another huge matchup between the Cincinnati/Wake Forest winner.

Predicted Sweet 16 Matchups - #1 Ohio State vs. #5 Providence, #2 USC vs. #3 Cincinnati

Most Likely Cinderella - Siena

Predicted Regional Winner - Ohio State, who has only been a small step behind Arizona all season, gets through without a real significant challenge.