Preseason Tourney Talk

By Josh Herwitt - August 24, 2007

Yesterday I wrote a column on some of the best non-conference games to come in the 2007-08 season, and while those dates throughout the months of November and December stand out the most in looking at the preseason calendar, there's a host of other early-season tournaments that have the potential to boast some top-notch NCAA Tournament matchups before the month of January.

The 2K Coaches vs. Cancer is one of those preseason tournaments that is sure to get college basketball fans reenergized for the 2007-08 season with Memphis, Kentucky, UConn and Oklahoma headlining the field. Regional action will run from Nov. 5-9, as the top four teams advance to the Championship Rounds the following week at Madison Square Garden.

A couple days after the Coaches vs. Cancer tournament concludes, the CBE Classic will crown a champion as Maryland, Michigan State, Missouri and UCLA, who will serve as the tournament's four host schools, look to reach the newly-constructed Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. for the championship round.

While these two tournaments are sure to grab plenty of headlines early on, the Philly Classic, set to run Nov. 9-23, returns to the city of Brotherly Love in 2007 as eight schools round out a lineup that includes Bruiser Flint's scrappy Drexel team, ACC foe Virginia and Big East member Seton Hall. Each team will play a total of four games, with the first two to be played at regional campus sites and the final two contests to take place at the historic Palestra.

Meanwhile, the inaugural Blue Ribbon Challenge will welcome a five-team field headlined by Rutgers and two-time national champion Florida to the Gators' Stephen C. O'Connell Center from Nov. 9-17. The Scarlet Knights will host Tennessee Tech, North Dakota State and North Carolina Central in Piscataway, N.J. before heading south to Gainesville to take on Billy Donovan and his young, yet talented squad in what could one of the better preseason tests for Florida.

But one of the premiere preseason matchups could come in Sin City, where the Las Vegas Invitational plays host to four NCAA Tournament-caliber squads in BYU, Old Dominion, Louisville and North Carolina. And if the Tar Heels and Cardinals are both able to get by their first-round meetings, you can anticipate plenty of hype for a potential Final Four showdown in the first two weeks of the season.

Bracket Bustin'

The Worldwide Leader announced this week the field for the sixth annual O'Reilly ESPNU BracketBusters showcase that will offer some quality competition as several NCAA Tournament hopefuls look to improve their stock on Feb. 22-23 in the middle of their conference schedules. The 14 BracketBusters matchups will be selected from a pool of 100 teams and announced on Feb. 4 with game times to come a week later.

Winthrop, a Big South representative who upset sixth-seeded Notre Dame in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last season, is one of the teams eligible to participate along with Bucknell, a patented Cinderella coming off three straight 20-win seasons in the Patriot League.

"The national exposure that this event provides is tremendous and the opportunity for Winthrop to host a game in 2008 is great for our fans," Winthrop coach Randy Peele said. "We look forward to representing our school and the Big South Conference for a third straight year in the BracketBuster.

Posted by Josh Herwitt at 08:42 PM on August 24, 2007

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