1) They built a time machine to transport us back to last season, when several teams featured start players who have since graduated--Boston University (John Holland), Cleveland State (Norris Cole), Hofstra (Charles Jenkins), Morehead State (Kenneth Faried), and Princeton (Dan Mavraides and Kareem Maddox).
2) The Gazelle Group allowed these mid-major powers to advance to the semifinals in East Rutherford. Those slots are already accounted for, as NC State will take on Vanderbilt and Texas will play Oregon State. Of course, I harp on this every year, but at least the participating visiting schools will get to play some quality opponents in the subregional round. (follow for more)
While the schools I mentioned under point No. 1 head into the 2011-12 campaign missing a marquee performer from last year, all is not lost for them (particularly Boston University, Bucknell, Cleveland State, and Princeton, who all return four starters) and each and every one should be a contender for a postseason spot this season. Remember, four of the seven mids involved made the NCAA Tournament (Boston University, Bucknell, Morehead State, and Princeton), a staggering figure for an event like then. Plus, Cleveland State reached the NIT, and a pair--Hofstra and Rhode Island--made the College Basketball Invitational, which also happens to be a Gazelle-owned event. That means the two subregional rounds, to be played over Thanksgiving weekend at Bucknell and Rhode Island.
Actually, I mistyped when I wrote there were only two ways to improve the field. There's actually a third, as a Division 2 school, West Alabama from the Gulf South Conference, will play four games in the event. The Tigers will visit Oregon State and play in the Lewisburg subregional, playing Morehead State, Bucknell, and Princeton in that order. In other words, that's three 2011 Division I NCAA Tournament teams in the span of three days. Curiously, West Alabama's new coach is former Arkansas-Monticello coach Mike Newell. He led the Boll Weevils, another Gulf South member, in the 2007 event, where his team suffered lopsided losses to Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia.
Boston University, Cleveland State, and Hofstra will visit Rhode Island for their subregional. That's a round-robin worthy of more television coverage. Of course, all seven Division I visitors could pull an upset before the round-robin events tip off.
The full slate, including TV info for the six televised/streaming games, is on the 2011 Early Season Events page. My latest update includes information on the Michigan State-centered multi-team event, which actually sees the Spartans visit the Eastern Michigan Eagles, and the dates for North Carolina's two home games in the Las Vegas Invitational.
H/T to Raff of The Mount Fan Blog.