We’re about five months from the Holiday hoops tournaments, so it’s time to start looking for airfares and hotel rooms. No destination in mind? No worries, use this handy guide.
The Champions Classic, Nov 13 (Atlanta, GA): Year two of the heavyweight challenge between Kentucky, Kansas, Duke and Michigan State. Kentucky and Duke were the winners last year, and now they play each other while Kansas battles Michigan State.
Field: Kentucky, Duke, Michigan State, Kansas
Battle 4 Atlantis, Nov 22-24 (Bahamas): This tournament tries to suck by being a non-stop advertisement for a resort while the teams battle in a poorly lit ballroom, but they’ve got so much money that it’s quickly becoming a premier early season stopping point. Duke, Mizzou, Louisville, VCU. You won’t want to miss this one.
Field: Duke, Memphis, Missouri, Louisville, Minnesota, VCU, Stanford, Northern Iowa
Puerto Rico Tip-Off, Nov 15-16, 18 (Puerto Rico): Featuring North Carolina State and Tennessee which are two programs rapidly rising back to significance. A couple intriguing mid-majors could make some noise: UMass returns four starters, including Chaz Williams, who is an under 5-10 All America, and the Akron Zips which went 13-3 in the MAC last year and could be better this season.
Coaches vs Cancer Classic, Nov 16-17 (Brooklyn, NY): Notre Dame headlines the event in their Year of Jack Cooley. Hopefully they’ll face BYU so we can see a battle between contrasting tempos. Florida State will be breaking in a new lineup which will arguably feature the most talent Leonard Hamilton has ever coached at the college level, though they’re inexperienced. And the field is rounded out by St. Joe’s who returns everyone from a good A-10 squad.
Field: Notre Dame, Florida State, Brigham Young, St. Joseph’s
CBE Classic, Nov 19-20 (Kansas City): A St. Louis vs Kansas game on a neutral floor in Kansas City? Yes, I think I will. Unfortunately the other two teams went 11-25 in the Big 12 and Pac 12.
Field: St. Louis, Kansas, Texas A&M, Washington State
Legends Classic, Nov 19-20 (Brooklyn, NY): The Legends Classic suffers from the same dumb format as the 2K Sports Classic (see below), and surprise, they’re owned by the same people! It doesn’t matter what happens in the first round, because the four teams to advance to Brooklyn have already been set: Indiana, UCLA, Georgetown and Georgia. But even with the poor-format handicap this will still have people salivating over an Indiana vs UCLA matchup.
Field: Indiana, UCLA, Georgetown, Georgia, Duquesne, North Dakota State, James Madison, Liberty, UC Irvine, Sam Houston
Maui Invitational, Nov 19-21 (Maui, HI): Always one of the best early season events, this year is no different. UNC highlights the event, but their small, inexperienced roster should get plenty tested.
Field: Butler, Illinois, Marquette, Mississippi State, North Carolina, Texas, USC, Chaminade
Preseason NIT, Nov 21, 23 (New York City): Hey, a 12-team tournament where the hosts aren’t guaranteed a trip to the finals (take note, Legends Classic, 2K Sports Classic, etc…). The big schools should advance out of their pods, but it’s not guaranteed. Tony Mitchell (North Texas) will become an early candidate for story-of-the-year if he can get his team to New York.
Paradise Jam, Nov 16-19 (St. Thomas, BVI): At least you get to spend time in the Virgin Islands if you attend this event. The field is wide open and could be a great opportunity for New Mexico to make an early season statement.
Great Alaska Shootout, Nov 21-24 (Anchorage, AK): Not a lot of star power in this one, but the games should be more competitive than a lot of other tournaments.
Field: Belmont, Charlotte, Loyola Marymount, Northeastern, Oral Roberts, Texas State, UC Riverside, Alaska-Anchorage
Old Spice Classic Nov, 22-23, 25 (Orlando, FL): Gonzaga, Davidson, West Virginia, Vanderbilt. There’s decent potential here for some very entertaining games, but not much else.
Field: Vanderbilt, Gonzaga, Clemson, Davidson, Marist, Oklahoma, UTEP, West Virginia
Global Sports Classic, Nov 23-24 (Las Vegas, NV): UNLV will get home games against teams they should beat, though Cincinnati or Iowa State could spoil the party.
Field: UNLV, Cincinnati, Iowa State, Oregon, Jacksonville State, Northern Arizona, Campbell, N.C. A&T
Las Vegas Invitational, Nov 23-24 (Las Vegas, NV): Two events in Las Vegas on the same weekend? Why not? Creighton should get a couple good games to tune them up early in the year.
Field: Arkansas, Arizona State, Creighton, Wisconsin, FAMU, Longwood, Presbyterian, Cornell
2K Sports Classic, Nov 9-12, 15-16 (New York City): The 18th version of this tournament had the potential to be a great one, but of course they screwed it up with the format. The winners of the early games have absolutely no bearing on the four team which advance to New York. Those will be Oregon State, Alabama, Purdue and Villanova. Meanwhile, this could have developed into a showcase for a couple of the best little-known players in the nation – Mike Muscala (Bucknell) and Nate Wolters (South Dakota State). But they stay home even if they win their openers.
Field: Oregon State, Alabama, Purdue, Villanova, Bucknell, South Dakota State, Hofstra, Niagara
Charleston Classic, Nov 15-16, 18 (Charleston, SC): The organizers are begging for a Murray State vs Baylor final. Beyond that, there’s not much of interest.
Field: Baylor, Boston College, Charleston , Colorado, Dayton, St. John’s, Murray State, Auburn
Hall of Fame Tipoff, Nov 9-23 (Various): This is a tough event to figure out. Everyone plays four games and it is spread out over two weeks. Ohio State is clearly the team to beat.
Field: Ohio State, Seton Hall, Washington, Rhode Island, Norfolk State, Albany, UMKC, Loyola (Md.)
Anaheim Classic, Nov 22-23, 25 (Anaheim, CA): St. Mary’s, Drexel, Cal and Xavier could be fun, but St. Mary’s and Cal are already playing in Berkely next season. A higher quality field could have brought more attention to young stars in Brad Waldow (St. Mary’s) and Frantz Massenat (Drexel).
Field: California, Saint Mary’s, Xavier, Drexel, Drake, Rice, Georgia Tech, Pacific
Cancun Challence, Nov 20-21 (Cancun): It’s too bad Wichita State got stuck in this mess.
Field: Iowa, DePaul, Western Kentucky, Wichita State, Howard, Austin Peay, Western Carolina, Gardner-Webb
South Padre Invitational, Nov 23-24 (South Padre Island, TX): This will warm up college sports fans for those early December bowls that no one watches.
Field: Northwestern, Illinois State, UAB, TCU, Navy, Fairleigh Dickinson, Prairie View, Delaware State