Tournaments have big bracket impact 

August, 5, 2010

Getty ImagesJohn Calipari's Wildcats will have their hands full with a loaded field in Maui.
My colleague Andy Katz chimed in on some of the early-season tournament brackets here, so now here's my take -- with a twist. Here's a look at the tournaments with an eye toward the NCAA Tournament. What follows is one man's rankings of the tournaments in order of March bracket impact. The short version: There are plenty of opportunities for teams to boost their bid status early on. Here are the best.

1. The Maui Invitational always has -- and always will have -- an edge in terms of popularity and impact. It's Maui, for one, and, for another, location, timing and tradition make for the best possible field pretty much every year. This November is no exception. Top seed Michigan State is a legitimate contender for the NCAA title and Kentucky may be as well -- once the now-annual turnover of stars is complete. The flip side is that every potential bubble team in the field -- in particular Virginia and Wichita State -- has multiple opportunities for the kind of win that "keeps on giving" into March.