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2015 Corpus Christi Coastal Classic: Primer And Bracket

As the college basketball offseason—and summer—drags on, scheduling news provides fans with a little taste of what's to come between November and March. In this series, Blogging the Bracket's Chris Dobbertean examines this season's exempt tournaments, providing facts that will probably only be interesting to him. For the fields that will announce their brackets in August, Chris will provide his own suggested bracket for the purposes of later mocking. Today's event in the spotlight is one on the Texas coast that could be viewed as the continuation of another event that used to be located in the general area.

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

To catch up on all of the posts in this series, visit the 2015-16 Early Season Events hub.

What is it?

The Corpus Christi Coastal Classic

Where and when is it?

The eight teams will play in two four-team brackets, hosts and visitors, at the AmericanBank Center in Corpus Christi, Texas on Friday, November 27th and Saturday, November 28th. As is typical for an event with a split bracket, the host schools will each host a pair of visitors for games before or after the main event.

When did this event begin?

The first Corpus Christi Coastal Classic was claimed by the Virginia Cavaliers in the mists of November 2013. However, you can view this tournament as the replacement for the South Padre Invitational, played almost three hours south (the Texas coastline is long) on Thanksgiving weekends between 2005 and 2012.

Will it be on TV?

CBS Sports Network aired both hosts' semifinals and the championship game last season. Coverage plans for this season are to be announced. On-campus games are controlled by the companies that own the host schools' media rights, but since there isn't a power conference team involved this season, those games might be difficult to find.

Update 11/27/2015: The American Sports Network picked up the rights for this season, but they will only air one semifinal (UTEP-Southern Illinois) on Friday and UTEP's game on Saturday.

Jog my memory. Who won in 2014?

TCU defeated Mississippi State, 61-52, to win the hosts' bracket, while Radford topped Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, playing at home, 57-46, in the visitors' finale. Last season's field wasn't all that strong, to put it nicely.

Note that the Islanders, since they are not Hawaii and don't need the scheduling help, can only participate in this event once during a four-year cycle.

Who is participating in 2015?

The quartet of host schools comprises the Colorado State Rams (MW), Portland Pilots (WCC), Southern Illinois Salukis (MVC), and UTEP Miners (C-USA). The Abilene Christian Wildcats (Southland), a Division I newcomer, Florida A&M Rattlers (MEAC), Oakland Golden Grizzlies (Horizon), and Troy Trojans (Sun Belt) are the four visitors.

Texas schools feature heavily in this event, with at least one invited to play in each bracket in its first three seasons.

Colorado State and UTEP are the two headliners here. Both participated in last season's NIT, though the Rams were right on the bubble on Selection Sunday.

Have any of these teams played in this event before?

As this tournament has not yet completed a four-year cycle, none of these teams have been invited previously.

How about in the South Padre Invitational or its relatives?

The story changes ever so slightly when you merge the South Padre Invitational's history with this one, as Florida A&M played there in 2011. The SPI was organized by Basketball Tournaments, Inc., which also organized the Las Vegas Classic and Invitational along with the now-extinct Chicago Invitational Challenge. The Rattlers were a frequent participant in their events—serving as a visitor in the 2006 Chicago event and then in three straight tournaments from 2011 to 2013.

Colorado State defeated Portland in the semifinals of the 2012 Las Vegas Classic, an event it won with a win over Virginia Tech. That Rams squad won a game in the 2013 NCAA Tournament.

Southern Illinois finished third in the 2010 Chicago Invitational Challenge, an event Oakland also participated in, though the Salukis and Grizzlies were not paired during the on-campus rounds. Oakland won the visitors' bracket of the 2008 Las Vegas Invitational.

Have any of these teams met in other recent exempt tournaments?

Abilene Christian began its Division I transition with an appearance in the 2013 Battle 4 Atlantis, but did not visit Bahamas participant UTEP, who hosted Division II West Alabama instead. The Miners missed Southern Illinois in the 2011 Diamond Head Classic.

And that's it for the period from 2006 to the present; however, Colorado State and UTEP have met in each of the past four seasons in non-exempt situations.

So, what would your ideal brackets look like?

The visitors' matchups are already set, with Abilene Christian paired with Florida A&M and Oakland facing Troy.
For the hosts' bracket, it would be shocking if Colorado State and UTEP were paired in the semifinals, given their frequent recent meetings and the fact they're the clear favorites. That leads me to project these two matchups.

Colorado State-Southern Illinois

I only separated the Rams and Pilots because of their relatively recent Las Vegas Classic meeting.

Update 11/27/2015: UTEP will meet SIU, while Colorado State will indeed meet Portland in this season's semifinals.

I'll compare this projection to the real thing when it's released. The tournament in the queue for Monday is one that will be part of a busy weekend of basketball in Brooklyn..

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