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Breakdown of every team playing in Battle 4 Atlantis men’s tournament in Bahamas

Syracuse.com logo Syracuse.com 11/23/2021 Donna Ditota, syracuse.com

Syracuse, N.Y. — While you’re celebrating Thanksgiving this week, Syracuse’s men’s basketball team will be sampling a buffet of college basketball opponents, all of them sequestered at the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas.

The Orange opens play with Virginia Commonwealth, or VCU as it is more commonly known, on Wednesday. Depending on how the bracket shakes out, there are several possibilities for the rest of the week. Every team will play three games in the Bahamas.

Here’s a look at the Atlantis teams (aside from Syracuse):

VCU: The Rams have yet to score more than 60 points in a game and rank 236 in Kenpom.com in offensive efficiency. They lost to Wagner and Chattanooga at home. Then they scored 48 points and beat Vanderbilt on the road. VCU’s defense, always tenacious, has been good this season. But the Rams are missing two crucial players because of injuries and have struggled in basically every offensive category. They also don’t rebound.

Arizona State: The Bobby Hurley-led Sun Devils have lost two games (UC Riverside, San Diego State) by a total of three points. San Diego State has established itself as a potent mid-major, but UC Riverside is not, and Arizona State lost to that team at home. DJ Horne, the Illinois State transfer, is the main threat from the 3-point line, though Marcus Bagley has had success there, too. The Sun Devils, though, don’t take (or make) a lot of 3s and have struggled thus far to make free throws.

Auburn: The Tigers play UConn first, and that game will feature two teams that prefer to get up and down the court. Auburn rarely turns it over, shoots plenty of 3-point shots and will get its first true test of the season against the Huskies. Wendell Green, a 5-foot-11 guard, makes things happen on offense, while Jabari Smith and KD Johnson provide the perimeter firepower.

Baylor: The defending national champions feature one of the more versatile forwards in the nation in senior Matthew Mayer, who can score from just about anywhere (he’s gotten off to a slow start from the 3-point line), rebound and block shots. James Akinjo, the much-traveled point guard, is now leading the Bears at the lead guard spot and is doling out assists and getting to the free-throw line. Baylor, ranked No. 5 in Kenpom.com, has played just one team of any consequence thus far: (Stanford), but the Bears are scoring a lot of points. Baylor, too, has a nice blend of veterans and new guys.

Connecticut: Syracuse’s old Big East rival is undergoing a revival in Storrs. The Dan Hurley-led Huskies are ranked but have yet to play a single opponent of note; LIU is the most fearsome team they’ve faced thus far. That said, this is a team that guards ferociously, plays extremely fast and has shot the ball pretty well. Tyrese Martin has been the primary sharpshooter and Andre Jackson (remember him?) is rounding into the athletic force we thought he might be. RJ Cole (perimeter) and Adama Sanogo (inside) are two of UConn’s go-to guys on offense.

Loyola Chicago: Everybody’s Midwestern mid-major darling, the Ramblers are 4-0 under new coach Drew Valentine, have not played anybody remotely threatening and have not played outside their home arena thus far. They play relatively fast and right now are the nation’s top team in terms of offensive efficiency. They also take a lot of 3s, make a significant amount of them, and are among the national leaders in assist rate. Tate Hall, Ryan Schwieger and Aher Uguak have been the most dangerous of the sharpshooters.

Michigan State: The Spartans guard teams. They rank No. 3 nationally in field goal efficiency defense and have played a great opponent in Kansas and a good opponent in Butler; neither of those games were played at home. Michigan State, too, likes to push the ball and has been particularly effective close to the basket. Gabe Brown is MSU’s most dangerous offensive player; Joey Hauser has yet to heat up but has been effective on the offensive and defensive boards. (MSU is a good rebounding team.) The Spartans, too, have a legit 7-footer in the middle in Marcus Bingham, who rebounds, blocks shots and scores inside.

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