How to Bet the NCAAB Hall of Fame Classic: Preview, Odds, Picks & Predictions
Photo by Jamie Sabau/NCAA Photos via Getty Images. Pictured: Khalil Shabazz (San Francisco)
The Hall of Fame Classic — one of the most historic and significant early-season non-conference tournaments — tips off on Monday. The Classic is the foundation of the three-day event taking place in Kansas City to honor this year's inductees into the Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.
This year's inductees include John Beilein, Jim Calhoun, Jerry Krause, Lon Kruger, Roy Williams and many more.
The tournament boasts a stacked field, with four teams that all finished last season ranked inside the top 100 in NET Rankings. While San Francisco and Wichita State are returning participants, Grand Canyon and Northern Iowa will take part in the event for the first time this season.
San Francisco finished fourth in the 2003 Classic. Wichita State, on the other hand, placed fourth in 2009 and won the event in 2013.
Northern Iowa may be a first-timer in the HOF Classic, but it's historically done well in early non-conference tourneys. With Ben Jacobson at the helm, the Panthers have won four tournament titles dating back to 2010, their most recent coming in 2019 at the Cancun Challenge.
This will be the first non-con tournament for second-year head coach Bryce Drew at Grand Canyon. The Lopes seemed to have righted the ship in their last game after a shaky start, but can they continue that in Kansas City?
Northern Iowa vs. San Francisco
Monday's matchup will be the first-ever meeting between the Panthers and the Dons.
Northern Iowa comes into the HOF Classic following its game against Virginia being postponed due to the tragedy on campus. As a result, the Panthers have played just two games this season, their most recent being over a week ago.
San Francisco, meanwhile, has jumped out to a 4-0 start in Chris Gerlufsen's first season as head coach. Can the Don's remain undefeated in Kansas City?
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The Panthers take their time on offense, ranking 217th in offensive possession length. As a result, they've rarely been reckless with the ball.
Northern Iowa is the seventh-best team in the country in turnover percentage, giving up a turnover on just 12.2% of possessions.
And while that's great that the Panthers aren't rushing and committing careless turnovers, there's just one problem: they can't shoot.
Northern Iowa comes in at 358th out of 363 teams in effective field goal percentage. And when the Panthers do miss, it's not like they're getting many opportunities. The Panthers are outside the top 200 in 3-point attempts and 356th in field goal attempts.
The defense hasn't been able to stop much of anything either, allowing teams to cash in on 61.5% of their 2-point tries.
The Panthers have been decent when it comes to defending outside the arc and coming down with rebounds, so that's promising.
They may also find an edge in forcing turnovers against a Dons team giving the ball up on 24.6% of possessions.
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The Dons' plan of attack is simple: push the pace, and take a lot of shots. And so far, it's worked flawlessly.
San Francisco is outscoring opponents by an average of 12 points per game. The Dons' blistering pace (12th in Adjusted Tempo) has caused some issues.
San Francisco struggles with turnovers and fouls — its racked up 20 or more fouls in three of its four games and 10 or more turnovers in every game.
The Dons also boast an advantage over the Panthers in experience, which will play a significant factor in this early-season tournament.
Look for Khalil Shabazz — the team's only player named to the preseason All -WCC team — to be pivotal against Northern Iowa.
Northern Iowa vs. San Francisco Prediction
I think San Francisco's experience and ability to push the pace will be enough to get it past the Panthers. Northern Iowa struggled against Richmond, which plays a similar type of game.
I would back the Dons as high as a 4.5-point favorite in this matchup.
Wichita State vs. Grand Canyon
Before their game against Grambling, the Lopes looked slightly off, struggling to pull away from Montana State and losing outright to Nevada.
But in their most recent games, things finally seemed to come together.
Meanwhile, Wichita State had a similar situation. With 12 newcomers on the roster, the Shockers are still trying to build some familiarity as a team.
Can the Lopes keep the momentum rolling in Kansas City? Or will we see the return of elite Shocker basketball that has been missing for some time?
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There aren't many teams in the country with more new players on their roster than the Shockers. Wichita State ranks among the bottom-50 in the nation in minutes continuity.
As a result, there have been struggles early in the season in terms of just learning how to play together.
But in their last game, they went to a shortened lineup, focused more on defense and came away with an impressive win over the Spiders.
Jaykwon Walton has been huge for the Shockers. In just two games this season, he's already put up more points, steals, assists and minutes than he did during his two full seasons at Georgia.
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Before its game with Grambling, two of Grand Canyon's most promising players coming into the new campaign — Ray Harrison and Noah Baumann — had made just one shot this season.
The team relied heavily on Jovan Blacksher Jr. for almost all of its scoring. The Lopes were playing slow and their defense was spotty at best.
Against Grambling, the Lopes looked perfect, as nearly every issue they had had in the early games improved tenfold.
Harrison went off for five 3-pointers after going 0-of-11 in the first three games. Josh Baker finally had a decent scoring performance, and big man Yvan Ouedraogo caused havoc on defense the entire game.
The Lopes are a deep and talented team, with 12 players logging 10 or more minutes against Grambling, while four players scored in double digits.
This is the Grand Canyon team I expected to see coming into this season. The only question is: can it continue its play in Kansas City?
Wichita State vs. Grand Canyon Prediction
Both of these teams have displayed outstanding defense so far this season.
The Shockers hold opponents to just 58 points per game on average and just 37% shooting, while GCU holds teams to only 53.7 points per contest and just 35.2% shooting.
These teams also both rank outside the top 300 in Adjusted Tempo. That's why I'm taking the under in this opening-round matchup at any number 128 or better.
I think GCU will come away with the win, as well. The inexperience of this Wichita State team will be a factor and could very well cost it this game.
Hall of Fame Classic Futures
I have yet to see any futures odds on this tournament, but I see both San Francisco and Grand Canyon advancing to the final.
And I expect GCU to come back to Phoenix with some hardware.