To catch up on all of the posts in this series, visit the 2015-16 Early Season Events hub.
What is it?
The MGM Grand Main Event (official website)
Where and when is it?
All of the participants will travel to Las Vegas to play at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, home of the Pac-12 Tournament, on Monday, November 23rd and Wednesday, November 25th. The host schools will welcome the visitors for on-campus games either before or after the games in the desert. Matchups are set, but not all of the dates are.
When did this event begin?
This tournament was only played for the first time last season.
Will it be on TV?
If it's anything like last season, the host schools' Vegas games will be on an ESPN network or streaming on ESPN3. On-campus games revert to their home schools' media rights holders, so don't be surprised to see a Creighton game on Fox Sports 1 or a Rutgers contest on BTN.
Update 11/23/2015: BD Global Sports, organizer of the Men Who Speak Up Main Event, is streaming all of the games live on their YouTube channel, except for the Heavyweight Bracket Championship, which ESPN2 will air on Wednesday, November 25th at 9:30 p.m. ET.
Jog my memory. Who won in 2014?
Oklahoma State handled in-state rival Tulsa, 73-58, in the championship bout. If that game had gone differently for the Golden Hurricane, maybe they would have made the NCAAs.
Who is participating in 2015?
Given that this event takes place in a building better known for boxing, you'll notice a theme with it. The host schools—the Clemson Tigers (ACC), Creighton Bluejays (Big East), UMass Minutemen (A 10), and Rutgers Scarlet Knights (Big Ten)—will participate in the Heavyweight Division. Georgia was supposed to participate, but pulled out, with the Scarlet Knights replacing the Dawgs. The Middleweight Bracket features a quartet—the Central Arkansas Bears (Southland), Howard Bison (MEAC), Texas Southern Tigers (SWAC), and UTSA Roadrunners (C-USA).
Based on the schedule information that's been released so far, it's clear that UCA and Howard will visit UMass and Rutgers, while the two Texas schools will travel to Clemson and Creighton.
Last season, BD Global Sports, which organizes this tournament, couldn't find a fourth team, so the three Middleweight teams played a round-robin over three days. However, Oklahoma State only played one on-campus game as a result. That format does not look like it will be repeated this year.
Have any of these teams played here before?
Since this event is only in its second season, there are no repeat visitors.
Have any of these teams met in other recent exempt tournaments?
UMass defeated Clemson in the Tigers' home state to claim the 2013 Charleston Classic championship. That same season, Howard fell to Texas Southern in the Legends Classic subregional consolation game at South Dakota State. Going back to the 2009 edition of that particular event, Rutgers defeated UMass in the semifinals in Atlantic City before losing to Florida in the final.
So, do the brackets look like?
Since the four host schools weren't all that great last season, this is a pretty open competition. If Georgia were still participating, they would be the clear favorite. So, my guess for this event is really and truly one.
On the other hand, the Middleweight bracket is not set. The two Texas schools were the strongest KenPom teams last season, while the two HBCU's put up the best records. This is how I would pair the quartet.
Texas Southern-Central Arkansas
I'll update this post when the actual Middleweight bracket is released.
Update 08/09/2015: The Middleweight semifinals pit the two former Southland rivals against each other and pair the two HBCUs.
Here's an HTML version of both brackets.
On Monday, this series resumes with a look at the only event scheduled for Mexico in 2015.
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