SHARE
091316mauiinvitational.jpgThe Maui Invitational always has a solid field. USATSI

With the college hoops season now less than two months away, let’s take a look at what awaits in November. Yes, all of those big events and mini tournaments. College basketball’s start means a boatload of exempt tournaments in faraway spots. Personally, I’d prefer to see as many home-and-home matchups as possible, but the reality is these events are not going away.

And plenty of them are worth the watching.

So let’s look at what’s coming up in November. I’ve graded out the top tournaments and events. You can feel free to bookmark or favorite this page. The events are listed in chronological order.

ARMED FORCES CLASSIC

  • Date: Nov. 11
  • Location: University of Hawaii’s Stan Sheriff Center, Honolulu
  • Matchups: Arizona vs. Michigan State, Indiana vs. Kansas.
  • Last year’s champion: N/A
  • Grade: A
  • Comment: This is clear-cut. You’ve got four of the 10 best programs in America competing here. It’s an absolutely stellar way to start this season. Yes, this doubleheader will be played on the opening night of college hoops’ season. Normally that first Friday is forgettable, but not anymore.

VETERANS CLASSIC

  • Date: Nov. 11
  • Location: Navy, Annapolis, Md
  • Matchups: Vanderbilt vs. Marquette, Ohio State at Navy
  • Last year’s champion: N/A
  • Grade: C+
  • Comment: A proud event, one that Navy is involved in every season. Ohio State will be really strong and Marquette should be favored against a Vanderbilt team now coached by Bryce Drew.

CHAMPIONS CLASSIC

  • Date: Nov. 15
  • Location: Madison Square Garden, New York City
  • Matchups: Kentucky vs. Duke, Michigan State vs. Kansas
  • Last year’s champion: N/A
  • Grade: A
  • Comment: It’s year No. 6 of the must-watch event and the same four programs are back. All are likely to be ranked in the top 10, if not top six or seven in the polls. You can make the case that the event has never been better than it will be this year, because I expect the cumulative number of each team’s AP poll ranking to be less than 12. We’ve never had a year since the Champions Classic began that Kentucky, Kansas, MSU and Duke were all considered this good, all considered such big favorites to reach the Final Four.

PUERTO RICO TIP OFF

  • Date: Nov. 17-18 and 20
  • Location: Roberto Clemente Coliseum in San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Matchups: Xavier vs. Missouri, Clemson vs. Davidson, Arizona State vs. Northern Iowa and Oklahoma vs. Tulane
  • Last year’s champion: Miami
  • Grade: B+
  • Comment: Xavier will be a preseason top 10 team, probably. Arizona State is on the upswing. Northern Iowa is always legit so long as Ben Jacobsen is in charge of the program. Oklahoma loses Buddy Hield, but the Sooners will be NCAA Tournament-worthy again. And Davidson runs one of the most beautiful offenses in the sport. The teams going can offer up plenty to watch.

GILDAN CHARLESTON CLASSIC

  • Date: Nov. 17-18, 20
  • Location: TD Arena in Charleston, S.C
  • Matchups: Villanova vs. Western Michigan, Wake Forest vs. UTEP, Mississippi State vs. UCF and Boise State vs. College of Charleston
  • Last year’s champion: Virginia
  • Grade: B-
  • Comment: Having the reigning national champs — Villanova’s going to be a top-five team entering the season, by the way — automatically puts this event among the 10 best out there. Wake Forest is one of my favorite off-the-radar teams heading into the season. (Expect the Deacs to be called on Selection Sunday.) Mississippi State enters Year 2 of Ben Howland, and it’s going to probably flirt with being a ranked team throughout the year. Boise State is always fun. Charleston has a good coach in Earl Grant. Could be a 20-win team this season.

2K SPORTS CLASSIC

  • Date: Nov. 17-18
  • Location: Madison Square Garden, New York City
  • Matchups: This is a tournament, like many others, with satellite games before the main event, but for TV purposes, the final semifinal matchups are Michigan vs. Marquette and Pitt vs. SMU
  • Last year’s champion: Duke
  • Grade: B-
  • Comment: A lot is interesting here, at the very least. Pitt and SMU will be under first-year coaches. Kevin Stallings at Pitt and Tim Jankovich takes over at SMU. Michigan, I think, is going to be close to what it was last year: a 23-win team that eked into the tourney. Marquette will be the best team at the event, even though it won’t have its stellar freshman from last season, Henry Ellenson, who’s now collecting an NBA paycheck.

PARADISE JAM

  • Date: Nov. 18-21
  • Location: UVI Sports and Fitness Center in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands
  • Matchups: Quarterfinal matchups are Loyola (Chicago) vs. Saint Joseph’s, Oral Roberts vs. Ole Miss, Montana vs. NC State, Washington State vs. Creighton.
  • Last year’s champion: South Carolina
  • Grade: B-
  • Comment: This is a tournament that’s been around much longer than people realize. Miami won it back in ’01. Boston College took it all in 2003, when BC was at its peak. UConn won the event in 2008. A better field than last year. Andy Kennedy and the Rebels can be good and unpredictable — in fun ways. NC State is going to have the player I expect to be a top-two point guard prospect by the time we get to the end of the season (Dennis Smith, Jr.). He’s must-watch. Creighton is going to have Mo Watson Jr., and don’t be shocked if he’s a top 20 player in the country this season. Saint Joe’s was in last season’s NCAAs. Kind of an underrated event here.

HALL OF FAME TIP-OFF

  • Date: Nov. 19-20
  • Location: Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.
  • Matchups: The “Naismith Bracket” involves the four biggest programs involved in the event. Duke vs.Penn State, Cincinnati vs. Rhode Island
  • Last year’s champion: Purdue
  • Grade: A-
  • Comment: Penn State is the worst team in the field here, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see Pat Chambers’ team wind up with more than 20 wins by the end of the season. Duke’s appeal is obvious. The Blue Devils will have Harry Giles and Jayson Tatum, two players who will almost definitely be one-and-done, and both of whom could be taken in the top five of the 2017 draft. Cincinnati and Rhode Island are top 25-caliber teams. Rhode Island is going to have a huge home-fan advantage, given how close the campus is to Mohegan Sun. Solid final four field here. The best this event has produced since it began in 2011.

GULF COAST SHOWCASE

  • Date: Nov. 21-23
  • Location: Germain Arena in Estero, Fla.
  • Matchups: Quarterfinal matchups are Vermont vs. Wofford, Hofstra vs. Bradley, Kent State vs. South Dakota and Houston vs. George Mason.
  • Last year’s champion: Weber State
  • Grade: C-
  • Comment: There’s not a lot here. Houston and Hofstra will be good, and this could wind up being the type of event that showcases some top-tier mid-level college teams, but void of any major-conference heft, there’s not a lot to sell.

MAUI INVITATIONAL

  • Date: Nov. 21-23
  • Location: Lahaina Civic Center in Maui, Hawaii
  • Matchups: Tennessee vs. Wisconsin, Georgetown vs. Oregon, Oklahoma State vs. UConn and North Carolina vs. host Chaminade
  • Last year’s champion: Kansas
  • Grade: A-
  • Comment: Always one of the best, and likely will remain that way for decades to come. Maui is a lock for at least two top-20 programs every season. Here we have Oregon and UNC, who will be ranked top-eight/top-10/top-12 by the time Maui gets going. UConn and Wisconsin could be in the rankings. Oklahoma State has a new coach, a fantastic one, in Brad Underwood. Georgetown … enigmatic but should be fun. And Tennessee is going to be better than it was last season. As always, root for the humble hosts, Division-II Chaminade.

LEGENDS CLASSIC

  • Date: Nov. 21-22
  • Location: Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
  • Matchups: Texas vs. Northwestern and Notre Dame vs. Colorado
  • Last year’s champion: Marquette
  • Grade: B
  • Comment: It got a B last year, and I’ll give the same grade for 2016. I think Texas is going to be a top-five entertaining team in the country next season. Notre Dame’s going to take a step back, though. Northwestern, will you have the talent to be a top-40 team in the country? Would love to see it, but not convinced yet. Colorado is also a little mysterious right now.

CBE HALL OF FAME CLASSIC

  • Date: Nov. 21-22
  • Location: Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.
  • Matchups: Kansas vs. UAB and Georgia vs. George Washington
  • Last year’s champion: North Carolina
  • Grade: C+
  • Comment: Kansas will be must-watch with Josh Jackson running the show. He could be the No. 1 pick in the 2017 draft. Georgia has been a better SEC program under Mark Fox than most realize. George Washington will have a dark horse All-American candidate in Tyler Cavanaugh. UAB is not going to beat Kansas, but it can topple either UGa or G-Dub.

MEN WHO SPEAK UP MAIN EVENT

  • Date: Nov. 21 and Nov. 23
  • Location: MGM Grand Arena, Las Vegas
  • Matchups: BYU vs. Saint Louis and Alabama vs. Valparaiso
  • Last year’s champion: Creighton
  • Grade: C+
  • Comment: BYU is going to be better than a lot of people realize. Alabama heading to the NCAA Tournament in 2017 is a prediction of mine. Saint Louis starts anew with Travis Ford, so expect some growing pains. Valpo lost its coach, Bryce Drew, to Vandy. But it does get back Alec Peters, who will probably be the best mid-major player in the country. This was previously known as the “MGM Grand Main Event.”

GREAT ALASKA SHOOTOUT

  • Date: Nov. 23-26
  • Location: Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska
  • Matchups: Oakland vs. Nevada, UC Davis vs. Weber State, Iona vs. Drake and Buffalo vs. host Alaska-Anchorage
  • Last year’s champion: Middle Tennessee
  • Grade: C+
  • Comment: Grade on a slight curve here for the longest continually running early season destination event in Division I hoops. Hey, check last year’s winner. Middle Tennessee of course went on to upset No. 2 Michigan State in the first round of the NCAAs. The 2016 crop has entertaining teams and coaches in Iona and Oakland. Nevada is going to be a good mid major-type team this season. Weber State is always well-coached. This event unfortunately will never reclaim its glory days, but if it can become a destination for the best of the best at the mid-major level, that would be terrific.

CANCUN CHALLENGE

  • Date: Nov. 22-23
  • Location: Maya Convention Center, Cancun, Mexico
  • Matchups: This bracket has a two-tiered approach, just like the Hall of Fame Tipoff. The Mayan Division semifinals features Eastern Kentucky vs. Idaho State and Georgia State vs. NJIT. The semifinals of the Riviera Division are Purdue vs. Utah State and Auburn vs. Texas Tech.
  • Last year’s champion: Maryland
  • Grade: C
  • Comment: The Riviera Division offers us a Purdue team that’s not going to be as good in 2017 as it was in 2016 — a Utah State team that’s got no broad appeal, an Auburn club that is looking to be good enough for the NCAA Tournament, but the jury is out on that and a Texas Tech team that starts with Chris Beard taking over. And how good will TTU be?

091316battleforatlantis.jpgSyracuse won last season’s Battle 4 Atlantis title. USATSI

BATTLE 4 ATLANTIS

  • Date: Nov. 23-25
  • Location: Imperial Arena in Paradise Island, Bahamas
  • Matchups: VCU vs. Baylor, Michigan State vs. St. John’s, Louisville vs. Old Dominion and Wichita State vs. LSU
  • Last year’s champion: Syracuse
  • Grade: A-
  • Comment: The Bahamian tournament now competes with Maui for top billing. This year’s field is not ridiculously loaded, but it’s still a top-three early season event all the same. Michigan State is the best team in the field, but you’ve got terrific programs and/or programs with good fan bases everywhere. Even Old Dominion, the small team in the group, won’t be an easy out. I could see this tourney breaking in weird, wacky ways. LSU will have almost no pressure on it after the disappointment from Ben Simmons’ only season in Baton Rouge. Watch the Tigers win a couple here. Wouldn’t that be something. Meantime, Wichita State will absolutely have a shot at stealing this thing. And Louisville will likely need to get a few good wins here, since Rick Pitino believes his team has an unfair schedule.

NIT SEASON TIP-OFF

  • Date: Nov. 24-25
  • Location: Barclays Arena, Brooklyn, N.Y.
  • Matchups: West Virginia vs. Illinois and Florida State vs. Temple
  • Last year’s champion: Villanova
  • Grade: C+
  • Comment: I’d love to see Illinois finally get going again, but let’s actually watch it happen first. Temple isn’t super compelling. You’ll have a solid WVU squad and a Florida State club that’s not nearly as good as it could have been, thanks to losing Malik Beasley to the NBA. But FSU is still going to be formidable. In fact, the Noles are my pick here.

WOODEN LEGACY

  • Date: Nov. 24-25 and 27
  • Location: Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.
  • Matchups: UCLA vs. Portland, Dayton vs. Nebraska, Virginia Tech vs. New Mexico and Texas A&M vs. Cal-State Northridge
  • Last year’s champion: Michigan State
  • Grade: B+
  • Comment: Look at it this way. UCLA will have one of the bright young point guards in the game in Lonzo Ball. Dayton is going to be reliable, as always. Nebraska will be better. Va. Tech could be a top-eight team in the ACC. New Mexico is definitely going to be better. A&M is still going to have top-four-in-the-SEC talent. There’s plenty here. Good event. My guess is Tech wins it, though it’s a complete guess.

ADVOCARE INVITATIONAL

  • Date: Nov. 24-25 and 27
  • Location: Disney World’s HP Field House, Orlando
  • Matchups: Gonzaga vs. Quinnipiac, Seton Hall vs. Florida, Iowa State vs. Indiana State and Miami vs. Stanford in the quarterfinals.
  • Last year’s champion: Xavier
  • Grade: B
  • Comment: A big reason a lot of college hoops fans watch these events is to find out about teams whose lineups aren’t familiar, and to see who’s getting better (or not). You’ll have a lot of that here. Gonzaga, Seton Hall, Iowa State, Miami, Stanford — all of these teams are going to have big changes from what we saw last season. Expect the unexpected. This is November.

CONTINENTAL TIRE LAS VEGAS INVITATIONAL

  • Date: Nov. 24-25
  • Location: Orleans Arena, Las Vegas
  • Matchups: Arizona vs. Santa Clara and Butler vs. Vanderbilt.
  • Last year’s champion: West Virginia
  • Grade: B-
  • Comment: A fun Arizona team should romp to two wins here. Butler might have troubles getting to 20 wins next season and Vandy starts anew with Bryce Drew.

EMERALD COAST CLASSIC

  • Date: Nov. 25, 26
  • Location: Northwest Florida State College Arena in Destin, Fla.
  • Matchups: Iowa vs. Virginia, Memphis vs. Providence
  • Last year’s champion: Iowa State
  • Grade: B+
  • Comment: Hey, this Emerald event is a hidden gem. You get Virginia, which will be really good again (welcome, Austin Nichols). And not only that, but if Virginia wins, and Memphis wins, that means Nichols will face his former school. Memphis is now coached by Tubby Smith. The Tigers also have Dedric Lawson, who will be one of the best sophomores in the country. Providence will take a step back, but the Friars will still have some offense. Iowa also won’t be as good as it was last year, but it’s still a team capable of winning 20-plus games.

BARCLAYS CENTER CLASSIC

  • Date: Nov. 25-26
  • Location: Barclays Center in Brooklyn
  • Matchups: Maryland vs. Richmond and Boston College vs. Kansas State in the semifinals.
  • Last year’s champion: Cincinnati
  • Grade: C+
  • Comment: Maryland is the primary attraction here. Richmond will have T.J. Cline, who could be the second best player in the event. Bruce Weber is in a critical year with K-State, and Boston College just needs to show signs of improvement.

CHALLENGE IN MUSIC CITY

  • Date: Nov. 25-27
  • Location: Municipal Auditorium in Nashville, Tenn.
  • Matchups: A round-robin four-team tournament will be played amongst Evansville, Middle Tennessee, UNC Wilmington and Toledo
  • Last year’s champion: Tulane
  • Grade: C-
  • Comment: Eventually, you have enough of these tournaments and you’re just not going to be getting any top-100 programs.

GLOBAL SPORTS CLASSIC

  • Date: Nov. 25-26
  • Location: Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas
  • Matchups: UNLV vs. TCU, Washington vs. Western Kentucky
  • Last year’s champion: Grand Canyon
  • Grade: B
  • Comment: This is absolutely watchable. Washingotn will have Markelle Fultz, who could be one of the five best players in the country by the end of the season. TCU will be with new coach Jamie Dixon. Western Kentucky begins in year one with Rick Stansbury. Plenty of interest, including the local flavor of UNLV playing in this as well.


Source: CBS Sports Headlines / Grading the November must-see college basketball tourneys and events