For years the BB&T Classic in Washington, DC has acted as a bit of a showcase for some of the best programs in our nation's capital. This year's event at the Verizon Center will have a bit more of an Atlantic 10 feel to it as George Mason and George Washington will look to earn some respect against two power conference teams.
There has been a lot of talk this offseason regarding the Atlantic 10 losing Butler, Temple, Charlotte, and Xavier. To the contrary, the A10 is still a very good basketball conference and has a chance to show their depth in Chinatown on December 8.
George Mason will get a shot at Big 12 member Oklahoma in a game sure grab some national attention. The Sooners are coming of a 20-12 campaign and their first NCAA Tournament birth since 2009. Talented scorers Romero Osby and Steven Pledger move on, but Lon Kruger's squad still has a lot of talent in Amath M'Baye, Buddy Hield, and others. The Sooners also added highly touted freshmen Jordan Woodard and Frank Booker, and have also added a solid pair of JUCO transfers to supplement their losses.
For Paul Hewitt's Patriots its all about Sherrod Wright during their first year in the A10. Wright will immediately be ranked among the A10's best players and will get a chance to showcase his talents in the BB&T Classic.
The other game at the Verizon Center will have a distinctive DMV flavor with George Washington make the short trip from Foggy Bottom to take on future Big Ten member Maryland.
Mark Turgeon is still looking to get the Terps back to the NCAA Tournament, but failed last year despite a 25 win year. Alex Len and Pe'Shon Howard are gone, but UMD will be set this year with Dez Wells and Nick Faust leading the show. Talented freshman point guard Roddy Peters will join the fray in College Park after receiving scholarships from the likes of Kansas, Georgetown, UCLA, and others.
Mike Lonergan's Colonial may be the biggest wildcard in the Atlantic 10. The young team had an up and down season a year ago, but certainly gained a lot of experience. Senior power forward Isaiah Armwood will be counted as one of the A10's best players and GW's talent doesn't stop there. Indiana transfer Maurice Creek joins a team with other key members like sophomore forward Patricio Garino. A win for GW will not only give them some local bragging rights, but could propel them into the national picture.