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2015 Barclays Center 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. Brooklyn's Barclays Center has quickly become Madison Square Garden's rival for college basketball neutral-site supremacy. The arena's namesake event is just a small reason why.

Brad Penner-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 Barclays Center Classic

Where and when is it?

The four host schools will gather in Brooklyn, naturally at the Barclays Center, on Friday, November 27th and Saturday, November 28th. Note that the NIT Season Tip-Off is scheduled to wrap up in the same building on that Friday. The Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend will also see the showcase game of the new Brooklyn Hoops Classic (don't you love how the inaugural edition of something can be called a "Classic"?), which will pit Louisville against Saint Louis. That's a whole lot of basketball.

The Barclays Center Classic is unique in that its visitors' bracket is hosted by one of the participants, so far a local school always has filled this role. This year, Army will host at West Point.

Since this is a split-bracket tournament, each of the four visitors will play on the home floors of two host schools during the exempt tournament's window.

When did this event begin?

In 2012, the Maryland Terrapins and Kentucky Wildcats headlined the first Barclays Center Classic, which was a round-robin highlighted by an Opening Night doubleheader in Brooklyn, featuring the two power-conference entrants and a matchup between hometown LIU-Brooklyn Blackbirds and Morehead State Eagles. (The fifth participant, Lafayette, was left out. Since they hosted the Blackbirds, so the Leopards didn't even get to visit Brooklyn during the event.) The new Brooklyn Hoops Classic will have this round-robin/showcase format.

The 2013 edition was the first with eight teams and a split bracket.

Will it be on TV?

NBCSN aired the 2013 and 2014 tournaments, covering the host bracket's semifinals and finals. Presumably, that will be the case in 2015.

As usual, on-campus games will be controlled by the owners of the home team's media rights. Thus, you could find Tennessee's home games on SEC Network and Nebraska's on BTN.

It's possible the visitors' bracket at Army will be streamed, but this is no guarantee.

Update 11/27/2015: The American Sports Network picked up the rights, so you'll have to check your local listings for all four games in Brooklyn. However, ESPN3 is streaming the games from Barclays Center on Friday evening and Saturday afternoon.

Jog my memory. Who won in 2014?

In what was quite possibly one of the worst games of the season, Virginia held Rutgers to eight second-half points in a 45-26 final that was actually 18-17 Scarlet Knights at halftime.

Norfolk State won at St. Peter's, 60-58, to claim the visitors' crown.

Who is participating in 2015?

The four hosts are the Cincinnati Bearcats (American), George Washington Colonials (A 10), Nebraska Cornhuskers (Big Ten), and Tennessee Volunteers (SEC). This is the first season without a local draw in the top bracket, a role St. John's and Rutgers filled in the first two seasons of the expanded format.

The quartet of visitors are the Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions (SWAC), Army Cadets (Patriot), Gardner-Webb Bulldogs (Big South), and Southeastern Louisiana Lions (Southland).

Curiously, the four visitors have combined for a total of two NCAA appearances—UAPB in 2010 and Southeastern Louisiana in 2005.

Have any of these teams played in this event before?

The Barclays Center Classic has not completed a four-year cycle, so all of this teams are new to it.

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

George Washington did not meet Nebraska in its run to the Diamond Head Classic title last season, though the Cornhuskers won a 56-55 double OT game home game over Cincinnati in their last game before heading to the middle of the Pacific. That matchup concluded the pair's home-and-home series, a split.

The Colonials were not assigned to Tennessee's regional in the 2010 NIT Season Tip-Off, the only other instance in which these eight teams shared a field since the "two in four" rule's end in 2006.

So, what would your ideal brackets look like?

According to Gardner-Webb's schedule, the West Point bracket is already set, with the Bulldogs taking on SELA and UAPB challenging the hosts.

As for the Brooklyn games, Cincinnati, the only 2015 NCAA participant in the field, and George Washington, an NIT team last season, look to be the two anchors. Considering the Bearcats have played Nebraska for two seasons in a row, I'd expect them to be separated as well. That makes this projection rather simple.

Cincinnati-Tennessee
George Washington-Nebraska

I'll compare this to the real bracket when it's released.

So, what does the actual bracket look like?

(Update 08/09/2015) CBS Sports' Jon Rothstein tweeted the matchups, and my guess was once again incorrect. Cincinnati and Nebraska will indeed meet for the third season in a row. A Cincy-GW final is still the most likely outcome, however.

Cincinnati-Nebraska
George Washington-Tennessee

(end update)

Tomorrow, my focus shifts to the limited pool of end of year tournaments, starting with a look at yet another Las Vegas event.

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