Photo credit: Charlotte Athletics
The 49ers head on a business trip to the beach`
The 49ers get to head to the beach, not for a relaxing getaway, but to play in the Myrtle Beach Invitational which features a lot of top-tier programs. This is going to be a great test to see where the 49ers are early in the season with their team’s progression just a few games into the 2022-23 season.
The teams are listed next to the opponent they will each face first. There will be a consolation ladder for the losers of each game, however, each team will get at least two games, maybe three depending on if they win one game or not whether it be in the first round or first consolation game.
Road to the title for Charlotte
The road to being crowned the invitational champ starts with Boise State. The Broncos have a relatively inexperienced roster with several freshmen and sophomores on their team.
It will be an interesting dynamic to see the two programs face off with one having inexperience based on age, and Charlotte being inexperienced playing together with all of the transfers that coach Ron Sanchez brought in over the off-season.
This is a very winnable game for the 49ers if they continue to get good ball movement as well as take good shots, and of course, play their rugged style of pack-line defense that Sanchez implements.
The Ramblers are a bit of a mixed bag this season. Going down the roster, you’ll find there is a good mixture of young guys as well as seasoned veterans. As most know, this is a Ramblers program that has had a good bit of recent success in the NCAA tournament; even going as far as the Final Four in 2018.
They found themselves needing baskets late to win three straight games from the round of 32 all the way through the elite 8, and hit clutch baskets propelling them all the way to the final four, only to be upended by the Michigan Wolverines. Michigan would eventually lose in the National Championship to Villanova which boasted several current NBA players.
While it is yet to know just how good this Ramblers team can be, they do sit at 2-0, however without super convincing wins. They beat Fairleigh Dickinson 88-82 in overtime, and also beat the UIC Flames 70-63. So, while the Ramblers are winning, they are not unbeatable by no means.
A future American Conference foe, the Tulsa Hurricanes are one of the most experienced teams on the 49ers side of the bracket. A lot of their players are juniors mixed in with a few seniors, and just a handful of underclassmen.
It will be quite interesting to see their game against Loyola Chicago in the first round because although the Ramblers are eight-point favorites in this matchup, guard Sam Griffin might have something to say about that for the Hurricanes. He comes in averaging 19 points per game shooting nearly 40 percent as well.
It will be key to watch how any team can match up with Ramblers forward Tom Welch though. He has yet to miss a shot through two games of the regular season.
A quick look at the other side of the bracket
The opposite side of the bracket has two teams that just might be favored to win the entire tournament. One is the No. 24 ranked Texas A&M. The Aggies have been known to pull off a few upsets in the NCAA tournament and have a really strong returning group this year. Wade Taylor IV leads the team in scoring with 19.5 points per game.
Former Duke forward, Henry Coleman III, leads the team in rebounds and assists with 9.5 and 2.5 respectively. They are 10.5-point favorites over their first-round matchup, Murray State.
The other team just might win the entire tournament in Colorado. The Buffaloes have been a bit up and down to start the year. Sitting at 2-1 so far, they have had a bad loss to Grambling, but turned around and knocked off the No. 11 team at the time, the Tennesse Volunteers, in their next game. So, it will be about which team shows up for Colorado, but the best version of the Buffaloes is a very good team.
Looking to Gameday
The 49ers get their tournament run underway at 7 p.m. on Thursday when they do battle with Boise State. Despite being 2-0 and the Broncos being 1-1, the 49ers are actually 5.5-point underdogs to open the tournament up. The game will be broadcasted on ESPNN, or you can listen to the call on ESPN 730 The Game.