To catch up on all of the posts in this series, visit the 2015-16 Early Season Events hub.
What is it?
The Legends Classic (official website)
Where and when is it?
The four host schools will play at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on November 23rd and 24th-the Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Nearly simultaneously, though without ESPN covering the event, the four visiting schools will play their bracket out at Kennesaw State. All of the on-campus games are scheduled for before the main events, taking place between November 13th and 19th.
When did it this event begin?
The Texas Longhorns defeated Tennessee Volunteers in the first Legends Classic final, played at the Prudential Center in Newark on November 24, 2007. Based on the inaugural field, it looks like the Gazelle Group had a bit of a difficult time putting the field together, as no fewer than five non-Division I teams participated in that year's regional rounds, with Texas, Tennessee, and West Virginia all playing Arkansas-Monticello as part of the event.
In 2009, the event moved to Atlantic City's Boardwalk Hall, a truly unique venue for college basketball (as I recall the Atlantic 10 Tournament final I attended there the season before) for two years. The most noteworthy thing about the event's tenure on the Jersey Shore is that the two teams I follow the most closely won during those seasons—Florida in 2009 (thanks to a win over Michigan State in the semifinals that basically pushed them into the 2010 NCAA field after two years away) and Syracuse in 2010.
Two years later, the event was on the move again, this time back to the New York metro area, specifically to the Meadowlands. One season on, in 2012, the tournament made its final move, to Brooklyn.
Much like its sibling, the 2K Classic, this event features "regional" rounds played on the home floors of host schools, typically from power conferences, with the visitors participating in a "subregional" round while the host schools meet in Brooklyn. The format is rather stable now, with four hosts and four visitors, though the number of visitors and the format of the subregional rounds varied widely between 2007 and 2012. Non-Division I teams were often called in to fill gaps before an eight-team format was settled upon in 2013.
Will it be on TV?
The Brooklyn games will be on an ESPN network or streaming on ESPN3. Rights to on-campus "regional" round games revert to the host school's rights holders, so you might see Marquette's home games on Fox Sports 1, even if the main round of the tournament is on ESPN/ESPN2. Last year, Villanova's on-campus games aired on FS1 and CBSSN. I would not be shocked if the subregional were streamed, given the A-Sun is pretty aggressive about getting its basketball games out on the internet and member Kennesaw State is hosting.
Jog my memory. Who won in 2014?
Villanova defeated Michigan 60-55 in the final.
Who is participating in 2015?
The Arizona State Sun Devils (Pac-12), LSU Tigers (SEC), Marquette Golden Eagles (Big East), and North Carolina State Wolfpack (ACC) will be headed to Brooklyn, while the Kennesaw State Owls (A-Sun) will host the Belmont Bruins (OVC), IUPUI Jaguars (Summit), South Alabama Jaguars (Sun Belt) in the subregional.
The tournament's eight "regional" games are already scheduled. Arizona State hosts Belmont and Kennesaw State, while the Owls and South Alabama travel to LSU. Two sets of Jaguars (USA and IUPUI) are bound for Raleigh, and IUPUI and Belmont visit Milwaukee. The Bruins' game against Marquette is on opening night (November 13th), and could be one to pay attention to on that evening.
Have any of these teams played in this event before?
N.C. State is the only 2015 entrant to have participated previously. The Wolfpack will want to improve upon their showing in 2011, when they went 1-1 in East Rutherford, falling to Vanderbilt in the semifinals before defeating Texas in the consolation game.
What about in other Gazelle Group events?
Both IUPUI and South Alabama participated in last season's Gotham Classic, which is a round-robin. The Northern Jaguars topped their Southern visitors after overtime in Indianapolis. Kennesaw State, meanwhile, went 1-3 in its 2K Classic appearance in 2014. IUPUI appeared in the 2010 CBE Hall of Fame Classic, which was then run by Gazelle, along with Marquette, but the two did not meet. The Golden Eagles lost to Gonzaga in that event's final, a result that prevented them from "repeating" their 2006 triumph in Kansas City, which happened to come against Duke.
Have any of these teams met in other recent exempt tournaments?
In 2013, Arizona State picked up a two-point win over Marquette in a non-bracketed game for the Wooden Legacy that doubled as the first game of a home-and-home series. Otherwise, the Sun Devils defeated LSU in the NIT Season Tip-Off's third-place game back in 2009, while Marquette and the Bayou Bengals both played in Maui in 2007, but did not meet.
So, what would your ideal brackets look like?
LSU and N.C. State met in an entertaining NCAA Round of 64 contest back in March, and these two look to be the class of the field, so expect them to be kept apart in the semifinals. The same goes for Arizona State and Marquette, who have seen a lot of each other lately. So, my bracket guess looks like this:
In Kennesaw, Belmont will clearly be the heavy favorite, while the host might struggle to win a game. Still, I would expect those two to be kept apart. The same goes for the dueling Jaguars.
I'll check back in
August (UPDATE: How about mere hours after his post originally ran?) to see how this compares to the real thing. On Monday, it's time to head to the Heartland.
What do the actual brackets look like?
N.C. State's non-conference schedule release from today (7/17) includes the actual host bracket semifinals. A tweet from @MattSarz tipped me off to this not long after the original post ran.
While an LSU-N.C. State final is still in play, the semifinal opponents are the opposite of what I came up with. The Bayou Bengals get Marquette, while the Wolfpack will face Arizona State.
I'll update this again when the visitors' semifinals are set.
(Update 08/09/2015) The visitors' bracket matches up with my prediction, as indicated in this August 6th release.
Here's a PDF version of the entire Legends Classic bracket.
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