The advent of early-season tournaments and invitationals over the past decade or so has really done a lot to get college basketball jump started in the month of November. Sure, it is the thick of football season, both college and pro, but these tournaments give basketball fans something to pay attention to, as they often produce some great early season match ups and give a sneak peak on what to expect from teams going forward. Last year, UConn would have remained a relatively unknown entity had they not made an impressive run in the Maui Invitational. Similar stories can be told almost every year.
More and more of these tournaments seem to be popping up every year, so I thought I’d take a look at what we have to look forward to this coming season.
1. Maui Invitational, Nov. 21-23, Maui, HI
Participants: Chaminade, Duke, Georgetown, Kansas, Memphis, Michigan, Tennessee, UCLA
Analysis:The Maui Invitational often boasts an impressive field, and this year is no different. Duke and Kansas obviously headline this group from a prestige-perspective, but watch out for Memphis, Michigan, and possibly even UCLA to make quite a bit of noise this year. Georgetown and Tennessee won’t be as strong as they have been in previous years, but if those are two of your bottom three tournament teams, you know you have a good field.
I like Michigan as a sleeper here, but am just as excited to see what Memphis has in store with a young but extremely talented roster coming into this season.
2. CBE Classic, Nov. 13-17 and 21-22, Kansas City, MO
Participants: *California, *Georgia, *Missouri, *Notre Dame; Rest of field TBA (* – automatically advance to championship round)
Analysis: The Kansas City location isn’t necessarily glamorous, but this tournament will be quite competitive this year. This is one of those tournaments where most of the field will participate in play-in games at different sites to see who makes it to KC, but the teams slated to automatically advance are a solid group. California should be the favorites.
3. Coaches vs. Cancer, Nov. 7-11 and 17-18, New York, NY
Participants: *Arizona, *Mississippi State, *St. John’s, *Texas A&M; Rest of field TBA (* – automatically advance to championship round)
Analysis: Coaches vs. Cancer is always a popular tournament, especially since it is played in Madison Square Garden and always is televised in prime time on ESPN. The field this year features teams with a lot to prove after losing key guys off of their squads from last season. Arizona has an exciting young class coming in, and St. John’s will certainly be a hometown favorite. Texas A&M may have the most talent, but will be adjusting to a new coach. Wouldn’t be surprised to see a team from the play-in field make a run here.