Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Schedule News: Bama Hoops in Las Vegas?

The SB Nation site, Blogging The Bracket, has an updated list of the 2016-17 college basketball tournaments and neutral-site events that take place early in the season. Skimming it tonight, I noticed that Alabama was included in the "Men Who Speak Up Main Event" at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Dates are November 21st and 23rd.

Like many of these recent "tournaments", there are four host schools who make up the "Heavyweight" bracket in Las Vegas, and the visiting teams who make up their own separate bracket in Las Vegas, the "Middleweight" bracket. The host schools play a game or two on their campus, and then,regardless of the results in the campus games, play each other in the bracket in Las Vegas. The visiting teams are currently TBD, but the four host schools are listed. In addition to Alabama, BYU, Minnesota and Valparaiso are the other host schools. BYU and Valparaiso advanced to the NIT Final Four last season (Valparaiso was defeated by George Washington in the championship game), while Minnesota struggled through an 8-win season in Richard Pitino's third season at the school.

There has been no official announcement by the schools or the website for the event so take all of this with a grain of salt, but it certainly seems in line with the way Avery has scheduled so far in his tenure, and SB Nation has been very accurate with this list in the last few seasons they've been doing it. If this does pan out, it would certainly be a fun trip for Bama Hoops fans who have the pocket change and an affinity for Sin City. Based on comments Avery made today at the SEC spring meetings, they are locking down one more opponent, and hope to have that done within the next week. If his statements are accurate, we may see a non-conference schedule as early as next week.

UPDATE 06/09/2016:  I'm reading around the internet that Minnesota may have backed out of this event, forcing the organizers to find a new team to fill out the bracket. At the moment, that team is TBD. That could be what Avery has been referring to in recent comments about the schedule when he says they have one team left to complete the schedule. Honestly, I'm not sad about this news (assuming it's legit). Minnesota is a dumpster fire on and off the court at the moment. Should they continue to struggle, their presence in this event won't exactly do much for Alabama's RPI (not to mention BYU and Valparaiso who are counting on their non-conference schedules to help them build at-large resumes despite playing in conferences that are considered mid-major).

UPDATE 06/18/2016: The field for the  "Men Who Speak Up Main Event" has been filled according to Jon Rothstein on Twitter. St. Louis has replaced Minnesota. The Billikens (a billiken is a good luck figure that was imagined by art teacher Florence Pretz in a dream. No word yet on how many mushrooms were consumed by Florence prior to falling asleep.) had a forgetful 15-16 campaign, finishing 11-21 (5-13 in conference play). Travis Ford was hired in the offseason, replacing Jim Crews.

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