The 2020 Empire Classic is a four-team tournament that originally consisted of Villanova, Arizona State, Baylor, and Boston College, but after a positive COVID-19 test within Baylor’s basketball team, the Bears dropped out of the tournament. The Rhode Island Rams stepped in in place of the number two team in the nation, Baylor.
The first day consisted of matchups between No. 18 Arizona State and Rhode Island, and No. 3 Villanova and Boston College. Both games did not disappoint. Game one between the Sun Devils and the Rams saw Rhode Island erase a 16-point Arizona State lead in the second half. Despite the comeback late in the game, the Sun Devils were able to hang on and move to the championship game with a 94-88 victory. Arizona State was led by senior guard Remy Martin, who scored a game-high 26 points.
Game two between the Wildcats and the Sun Devils went back and forth, with the game going into halftime tied at 34. In the second half, the Eagles came out on fire, taking a nine-point lead with 13:02 left in the game. The Wildcats were able to come back, led by a surge from Sophomore forward Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, who led the game with 18 points (14 in the second half). Late in the game, Villanova was able to push away and advance to the championship game, defeating Boston College, 76-67.
Night two of the tournament started off with Boston College facing Rhode Island, with the winner taking third place in the 2020 Empire Classic. The game was close throughout, with the largest lead being only eight points. In the end, Boston College was able to pull away and take third place, defeating Rhode Island, 69-64. The Eagles were led by a great overall team effort. Fatts Russell of the Rams led the game in scoring, putting up 23 points.
Finally, we have the championship game, with No. 3 Villanova facing off against No. 18 Arizona State. This game started off close with no team really taking a significant lead in the first 15 minutes. In the last five minutes of the first half, however, the Wildcats were able to create some separation and headed into halftime with a 41-32 lead. The Sun Devils did not go away, though, going on a 6-0 run to start the second half. The Wildcats didn’t fold and were eventually able to pull away, leading by 16 at one point. The final seconds ticked down as Villanova won the 2020 Empire Classic, defeating Arizona State, 83-74. The Wildcats were led by an incredible performance by Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, who scored a career-high 28 points. Robinson-Earl was nearly unstoppable from mid-range and was able to hit a couple threes and got some buckets down low.
Freshman, Josh Christopher, scored a career-high 28 points as well for the Sun Devils.
After an exciting two days, the Wildcats came out victorious. The All-Tournament team was Justin Moore (Villanova), Remy Martin (Arizona State), Fatts Russell (Rhode Island), Steffon Mitchell (Boston College, and the tournaments Most Valuable Player, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (Villanova).