It's an all chalk Final Four in the Arizona State Draft Tournament, and that's a good thing
The Arizona State Draft Tournament has seen some high seeds make pretty deep runs in the past, but that will not be the case this season, as the top four seeds will face off in the semifinals tonight.
This is the 11th draft tournament Arizona has had, and it will be the first time that all four top seeds have made it to the Final Four. This is reminiscent to the 2008 NCAA Tournament, which saw all four 1-seeds (Kansas, Memphis, North Carolina and UCLA) make it to the Final Four, the only time that’s ever happened.
This means that we won’t see any George Mason or VCU type runs from double-digit seeds this season in Arizona, but I’ve always preferred the best teams to make it as far as possible. Upsets are extremely fun in the moment, I can’t deny that. Watching UMBC beat Virginia was exciting while it was happening, but it becomes a buzz kill when you have to watch a 16-seed with no known players go on and play another game.
My most personal example of this was when Duke lost in the first round of the 2014 tournament. Don’t get it twisted, I hate Duke. I always have, and I always will. But that was Jabari Parker’s only year at Duke, and as someone from the Chicago suburbs, Parker was a cult hero to me and someone I wanted to see play deep into the tournament (and then eventually lose). Instead, he was knocked out in the first round by Mercer. Anyone remember any players from the 2014 Mercer Bears? Of course you don’t, because they lost to Tennessee by 20 in the next round.
Back to Arizona. I was surprised looking back on past draft tournaments and seeing that not only have all top four seeds not all made it to the Final Four, but it’s never been that particularly close before. Here’s a look at how many times the top four seeds have made the semifinals in the previous 10 tournaments:
1-seed - 8
2-seed - 2
3-seed - 6
4-seed - 1
Strangely enough, 5-seeds have made it six times and 7-seeds have made it five times, both significantly more than 2 or 4-seeds. The Cinderella runs have been hard to come by as well, as only eight double-digit seeds have ever gotten to the semifinals. The highest seed to ever do it was the 33-seed Hitmen in the Spring of 2018, who lost 71-69 to the 21-seed Hand Down, Man Down. Their seeds add up to 54, which is by far the highest in a semifinal matchup in tournament history.
This sets up what should be two awesome semifinal games tonight. First, we have the 1-seed X Over Draft taking on the 4-seed Hungover Hoopers. X Over Draft defeated the 8-seed PL Draft 83-80 in a star-studded quarterfinal matchup. Dewayne Pettus put up 34/18/7 on 11-21 shooting to continue what has been a dominant season. He unanimously won the Scottsdale Draft MVP this week, and has put up an average of 38/14.7/8.3 on 59% shooting in the three games in the tournament thus far. Hungover Hoopers are led by DJ Hurd, who’s scoring 23.6 per game this season. He put up 30/10/7 in an easy 99-77 win over the 5-seed Vintage & Adventurous in the quarterfinals.
The next matchup is between the 2-seed City Boys and 3-seed Free Smoke. Hurd also plays for City Boys, so he could have a predicament if City Boys and Hungover Hoopers both win in the semifinals. Unfortunately for Derio Parker, he’ll already have to make that decision, as he plays for City Boys and Free Smoke. He’s averaging over 20 points a game for both teams, so whoever he decides not to play for will be suffering a big loss. Sometimes we see players sit out games like this completely, especially because Parker is guaranteed to play in the championship game no matter what. It’ll be interesting to see what he decides.