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2010 Early Season Tourneys: A Super Early Look-Ahead

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It's been a week since the greatest NCAA Tournament in recent memory closed with Duke's close victory over Butler in Indianapolis. With expansion of the field to 96 teams looking likely, who knows if we'll ever see a three weeks as crazy as the 2010 Tournament ever again.

I've said before that the early season tournament season, particularly around Thanksgiving, is my second favorite time of the year. If March becomes a shadow of its former self, perhaps November and December will soon replace it at the top of my list.

After the jump, I'll take a look at the spots that are filled and which teams are still looking for an event.

ESPN Events

As SI's Luke Winn wrote last Thanksgiving, ESPN has begun to dominate the early-season event market, which has damaged events like the Great Alaska Shootout (more on it in a bit). The four-letter network rolls out one more tournament this season, an event that will complement the Diamond Head Classic during Christmas week.

Charleston Classic (Charleston, SC: Nov. 18, 19, 21): Five of the eight teams for this field are known: Charlotte (A-10), The Citadel (SoCon), East Carolina (C-USA), George Mason (CAA), NC State (ACC), giving the event a Carolina-centric feel. 3 teams are to be determined.

Puerto Rico Tip-Off (San Juan: Nov. 18, 19, 21): Teams are eager to get into this tournament, as the field was announced during the 2009 event. North Carolina's road to redemption after a season that ended in the NIT final gets started here. Field: Davidson (SoCon), Hofstra (CAA), Minnesota (Big Ten), Nebraska (Big 12), North Carolina (ACC), Vanderbilt (SEC), Western Kentucky (Sun Belt), West Virginia (Big East)

Old Spice Classic (Disney World: Nov. 25, 26, 28): Steve Donahue's first big test at the helm of Boston College's squad comes in Florida, where familiar foes Temple and Wisconsin await. I originally figured that BC and Notre Dame would find themselves on the same side of the bracket, but the Donahue storyline is more interesting. Field: Boston College (ACC), California (Pac-10), Georgia (SEC), Manhattan (MAAC), Notre Dame (Big East), Temple (A-10), Texas A&M (Big 12), Wisconsin (Big Ten)

76 Classic (Anaheim: Nov. 25, 26, 28): A weak non-conference schedule is ostensibly why Virginia Tech didn't get in this year's Tournament. Their appearance in Anaheim may not help them out, as the 2010 field for the tournament held across the street from Disneyland is just a bit weaker than the 2009 version that featured two teams who ended up reaching the Final Four. Oklahoma State and UNLV the only teams of these seven who made it to the NCAAs in 2010, but Oliver Purnell, DePaul's new coach, took Clemson there. Penn State, who was announced as a participant in November, has since withdrawn. Field: Cal State Northridge (Big West), DePaul (Big East), UNLV (MWC), Oklahoma State (Big 12), Stanford (Pac 10), Tulsa (C-USA), Virginia Tech (ACC), 1 TBD

Cancun Governor's Cup (Dec. 22, 23, 25?): This event started with a one-off game between Seton Hall and Virginia Tech in January. It will be a full-fledged eight-team tournament. I'm guessing it will be held over Christmas weekend alongside the Diamond Head Classic, but there aren't a ton of specifics out there yet. Things I know: it will be held in an arena, not a hotel ballroom, Conference USA is the host (maybe Memphis will be the anchor team for the debut?), and former C-USA member St. Louis will participate.

Diamond Head Classic (Honolulu: Dec. 22, 23, 25): This looks to have the best field of the six ESPN-owned events, as national runner-up Butler and South Region runner-up Baylor will be the anchors. Field: Baylor (Big 12), Butler (Horizon), Florida State (ACC), Hawai'i (WAC), Mississippi State (SEC), San Diego (WCC), Utah (MWC), 1 TBD

Gazelle Group Events

The Gazelle Group runs three events that all follow the same format. Four host teams each hand mid-majors losses (usually, though Iowa had issues last year in the CBE Classic) before heading on to neutral-site semifinals and finals. The mid-majors are then divided into two groups of four to play round-robin "regionals."

Coaches vs. Cancer Classic (Campus sites: Nov. 8-12; New York: Nov. 18-19) Pitt and Texas, who met in last year's CBE Classic final, will be headed to New York in 2010. They'll be joined by an Illinois team who should be angry after an NCAA miss and a Maryland team that will begin life without Greivis Vasquez.
Championship Round Teams: Illinois (Big Ten), Maryland (ACC), Pittsburgh (Big East), Texas (Big 12)
Visiting Teams: UC Irvine (Big West), College of Charleston (SoCon), Illinois-Chicago (Horizon), Louisiana Tech (WAC), Navy (Patriot), Rhode Island (A-10), Seattle (Indep.), Toledo (MAC) 

CBE Classic (Campus sites: Nov. 14-17; Kansas City: Nov. 22-23): Duke begins their title defense in the Midwest, where Kansas State will fill the role of local favorite, something Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, and Wichita State were all unable to take advantage of in recent years. Marquette topped the Blue Devils to win this event in 2006.
Championship Round Teams: Duke (ACC), Gonzaga (WCC), Kansas State (Big 12), Marquette (Big East)
Visiting Teams: 8 TBD

Legends Classic (Campus sites: Nov. 19-21; Atlantic City: Nov. 26-27): This event will feature four host teams who will be going through significant transitions. UTEP will be starting life under Tim Floyd, while Georgia Tech, Michigan, and Syracuse will all be replacing key pieces from their 2009-10 squads. In the case of the Wolverines, that may not be a bad thing.
Championship Round Teams: Georgia Tech (ACC), Michigan (Big Ten), Syracuse (Big East), UTEP (C-USA)
Visiting Teams: Albany (America East), Bowling Green (MAC), Detroit (Horizon), Gardner-Webb (Big South), Mercer (Atlantic Sun), Niagara (Metro Atlantic), Western Carolina (SoCon), William & Mary (CAA)

Other Traditional Tournaments

These events are all traditional elimination events, but the NIT Seaosn Tip-Off provides opportunities for the 12 teams who don't make it to New York to play a couple of extra games.

Paradise Jam (St. Thomas: Nov. 19-22) A trip to the Virgin Islands will be the first significant test for three teams with new coaches -- Clemson, Iowa, and Seton Hall. Field: Alabama (SEC), Clemson (ACC), Iowa (Big Ten), Long Beach State (Big West), Old Dominion (CAA), St. Peter's (MAAC), Seton Hall (Big East), Xavier (A-10)

Maui Invitational (Lahaina: Nov. 22-24) The Maui field is marquee, even if Oklahoma and Virginia have some major questions heading into 2010-11, and UConn, Kentucky, and Michigan State will be reloading. Field: Chaminade (PacWest, DII) Connecticut (Big East), Kentucky (SEC), Michigan State (Big Ten), Oklahoma (Big 12), Virginia (ACC), Washington (Pac 10), Wichita State (MVC)

NIT Season Tip-Off (Campus sites: TBD; New York: Nov. 24, 26) There are a lot of holes in this field, so it's too early to pass judgment on it. Host teams: Tennessee (SEC), UCLA (Pac-10), Villanova (Big East) (source), 1 TBD. Teams for Philadelphia regional: Boston University (America East) George Washington (A-10), Marist (MAAC) (source)

Great Alaska Shootout (Anchorage: Nov. 24-27) The Shootout returns to an eight-team format after a year which featured only six teams. The big question is, does Steve Lavin dump St. John's out in favor of an event with more media exposure? Field: Alaska-Anchorage (GNAC, DII), Arizona State (Pac-10), Ball State (MAC), Drake (MVC), Houston Baptist (Great West), St. John's (Big East), Southeastern Louisiana (Southland), Southern Utah (Summit)

College Basketball Tournaments, Inc. Multi-Team Events

These four tournaments operate with a similar format. Four teams host two mid-majors each before advancing to the tournament site to play each other in the semifinals and final. However, unlike the Gazelle Group events, the four mid-majors also advance to the host site and play their own semifinals and final.

Las Vegas Invitational (Campus sites: Nov. 20-23; Las Vegas: Nov. 26-27): Arizona and Kansas is the expected final here. Surprisingly, NCAA First Round winner Ohio and Santa Clara look to be the other host teams. Field: Arizona (Pac-10), Kansas (Big 12), Ohio (MAC), Santa Clara (WCC), 4 TBD (source)

South Padre Island Invitational (Campus sites: TBD; South Padre Island: Nov. 26-27): 8 TBD. I have yet to see anything on this field.

Chicago Invitational Challenge (Campus sites: TBD; Chicago: Nov. 26-27): This event always has a Midwestern flavor, with Purdue and Southern Illinois providing it in 2010. Field: Arkansas (SEC), Purdue (Big Ten), Southern Illinois (MVC), Wright State (Horizon), 4 TBD (source)

Las Vegas Classic (Campus sites: TBD; Las Vegas: Dec. 21-22): Mountain West power New Mexico takes on three major programs who struggled in their respective conferences in 2009-10. Field: Akron (MAC), Colorado (Big 12), Indiana (Big Ten), Miami (ACC). New Mexico (MWC), 3 TBD (source)

Other Hybrid Multi-Team Events

Cancun Challenge (Campus sites: TBD; Cancun: Nov. 23-25) This Basketball Travelers tournament is set up much like the College Basketball Tournaments, Inc. events. The four major programs will host two mid-majors each, but all eight advance to Cancun for two separate brackets. Field: La Salle (A-10), Missouri (Big 12), North Florida (A-Sun), Providence (Big East), Wyoming (MWC), 3 TBD

I have seen nothing about the fields for the Glenn Wilkes Classic, Hall of Fame Challenge, or Philly Hoop Group Classic yet.

Teams Still Looking

There are still quite a few teams who aren't tied to an event as of yet. The ACC and Big 12 are almost all booked up, while the Big East and Mountain West have several teams looking for a tournament.

Above the Red Line
ACC: Wake Forest
Big East: Cincinnati, Georgetown, Louisville, Rutgers, South Florida
Big Ten: Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State
Big 12: Iowa State, Texas Tech
MWC: Air Force, BYU, Colorado State, San Diego State, TCU
Pac-10: Oregon State, USC, Washington State (Oregon is hosting a round-robin in their new arena.)
SEC: Florida, LSU, Mississippi, South Carolina

Below the Red Line, the most prominent teams looking for a tournament are UAB, Dayton, Memphis, Northern Iowa, Richmond, and St. Mary's.

Prominent Conferences Below the Red Line
A-10: Dayton, Duquesne, Fordham Massachusetts, Richmond, St. Bonaventure, St. Joseph's 
C-USA: UAB, UCF, Houston, Marshall, Memphis, Rice, SMU, Southern Miss, Tulane
MVC: Bradley, Creighton, Evansville, Illinois State, Indiana State, Missouri State, Northern Iowa
WCC: Loyola Marymount, Pepperdine, St. Mary's, San Francisco (Portland is hosting a round-robin)
WAC: Boise State, Fresno State, Nevada, New Mexico State, San Jose State (Idaho and Utah State are hosting round-robins)

I'll be updating these fields throughout the offseason. If you have any information about your team's tournament plans (or any other scheduling info for that matter), please e-mail me at bloggingthebracket at gmail dot com.