Piecing Together The November Tournament Puzzle

A glimpse ahead to the eight most prominent events of exempt tournament season

May 17, 2007

By Bryan Armen Graham




Bryan is a basketball editor for CSTV.com and contributes on a regular weekly basis.
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With the thick of exempt tournament season just six months away, the annual slate of in-season events has started to take shape.


Most of the fields for these tournaments have yet to be announced -- but with a help of a little Internet sleuthing and deductive reasoning, here's a preliminary look at eight of November's most prominent competitions:


2K Sports College Hoops Classic


Location: Regional sites (opening rounds) and Madison Square Garden (New York, N.Y.)


Dates: Nov. 7-11 (opening rounds) and Nov. 15-16 (championship rounds)


Participants: Sixteen. Connecticut, Kentucky, Memphis and Oklahoma have been announced as the regional hosts. Central Arkansas is another confirmed participant.


What's The Attraction: John Calipari ended Billy Gillispie's season in the Sweet 16 when Memphis surprised Texas A&M in front of 30,000 screaming Aggies at the Alamodome. Will the newly installed Kentucky coach get an opportunity to exact revenge for that beating at the World's Most Famous Arena?


Last Year's Title Game: Maryland defeated Michigan State, 62-60.


On The Web: http://www.gazellegroup.com/cvcclassic/



College Basketball Experience Classic


Location: Campus sites (opening rounds) and Sprint Center (Kansas City, Mo.)


Dates: Nov. 10-14 (opening rounds) and Nov. 19-20 (championship rounds)


Participants: Sixteen. Maryland, Michigan State, Missouri and UCLA have been announced as the regional hosts. Twelve other teams will be announced over the summer to fill the remaining slots.


What's The Attraction: A meeting between UCLA and Michigan State -- a pair of teams that have the pieces in place to make Final Four runs -- would be a November dream come true.


Last Year's Title Game: Marquette defeated Duke, 73-62.


On The Web: http://www.gazellegroup.com/guardians/



NIT Season Tip-Off


Location: Regional sites (opening rounds) and Madison Square Garden (New York, N.Y.)


Dates: Nov. 12-14 (opening rounds) and Nov. 21-23 (championship rounds)


Participants: Sixteen. Ohio State, Syracuse, Texas A&M and Washington have been announced as the regional hosts. Other confirmed entrants include Albany, Saint Joseph's, Siena, and Wisconsin-Green Bay.


What's The Attraction: This year's Preseason NIT will afford east coast basketball fans a rare opportunity to catch Washington in the flesh should the Huskies hold serve in the opening rounds. In his five years on the sidelines, Lorenzo Romar's charges have not traveled farther east than Houston prior to the NCAA Tournament.


Last Year's Title Game: Butler defeated Gonzaga, 79-71.


On The Web: http://www.nit.org/



BP Top of the World Classic


Location: Carlson Center (Fairbanks, Ala.)


Dates: Nov. 15-18


Participants: Eight. Alaska, Akron, Colorado State, IUPUI, Oregon State, Portland State, South Carolina State, Tennessee State have been announced by the tournament organizers.


What's The Attraction: We should get a good idea of whether recent Mid-American power Akron can continue its run of 20-win seasons with their performance against a manageable field.


Last Year's Title Game: Utah State defeated cross-state rival Weber State, 68-55.


On The Web: http://alaskananooks.cstv.com/sports/m-baskbl/spec-rel/alaf-tournaments-towc.html



U.S. Virgin Island Paradise Jam


Location: UVI Sports and Fitness Center (St. Croix & St. Thomas)


Dates: Nov. 16-19


Participants: Eight. Baylor, Charlotte, Georgia Tech, UIC, Monmouth, Notre Dame, Wichita State, Winthrop.


What's The Attraction: The possibility of a rematch between Notre Dame and Winthrop -- the most memorable and gratifying non-surprise of the most recent NCAA Tournament -- has a built-in storyline. But this tournament could prove Georgia Tech's national coming-out as a Top 10 power should Javaris Crittenton and Thaddeus Young return to school.


Last Year's Title Game: Alabama defeated Xavier, 63-56.


On The Web: http://www.paradisejam.com/



EA Sports Maui Invitational


Location: Lahaina Civic Center (Lahaina, Hawaii)


Dates: Nov. 19-21


Participants: Eight. Arizona State, Duke, Illinois, Louisiana State, Marquette, Princeton, Chaminade.


What's The Attraction: The gold standard for in-season tournaments is back for its 24th go-round. And while this year's eight participants might not pack the same punch that the fields from previous seasons have offered, there's still potential for some memorable contests. The Blue Devils, Illini and Golden Eagles have been perennial powers in their BCS conferences while Arizona State is expected to take a significant step forward in Herb Sendek's sophomore season.


Last Year's Title Game: UCLA defeated Georgia Tech, 88-73.


On The Web: http://www.mauiinvitational.com/



Carrs/Safeway Great Alaska Shootout


Location: Sullivan Arena (Anchorage, Ala.)


Dates: Nov. 20-24


Participants: Eight. Alaska-Anchorage, Butler, Gonzaga, Liberty, Michigan, Texas Tech, Washington State, Western Kentucky.


What's The Attraction: The Shootout could provide a rematch of last season's thrilling NIT Season Tip-Off title game between the Bulldogs and the Zags -- a pair of teams which would go on to play in the NCAA Tournament.


Last Year's Title Game: California defeated Loyola Marymount, 78-70.


On The Web: http://www.shootout.net/



Old Spice Classic


Location: The Milk House at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex (Orlando, Fla.)


Dates: Nov. 23-25


Participants: Eight. George Mason, Kansas State, North Carolina State, Penn State, Rider, South Carolina, UCF, Villanova.


What's The Attraction: The baby of the exempt tournament scene lured three impressive names to its second annual event. But few teams around college basketball will enter the season with bigger buzz than North Carolina State, who finished the season strong after the injury bug passed and rising sophomore Brandon Costner blossomed.


Last Year's Title Game: Arkansas defeated West Virginia, 71-64.


On The Web: http://oldspiceclassic.com/

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