To catch up on all of the posts in this series, visit the 2015-16 Early Season Events hub.
What is it?
The Global Sports Classic
Where and when is it?
Each of the four host schools will welcome two visitors for on-campus games in mid-December. All eight participants will then split into a pair of brackets, with those games scheduled for the Cox Pavilion, usually the home of UNLV's women's team, on Monday, December 21st and Tuesday, December 22nd.
When did this event begin?
This event has been held in Las Vegas intermittently. Cincinnati won the last edition, in 2012, defeating host UNLV and Oregon along the way. That was four years after the first such tournament, claimed by Florida State, who toppled the Bearcats and California at the Thomas & Mack Center. The home team went 0-2 that year.
Will it be on TV?
I have seen no plans to air the event, and given the stature of the field, I would expect that streaming would be a better bet than a TV broadcast.
Who is participating in 2015?
The 2015 Mountain West Tournament champions, the Wyoming Cowboys (MW), are the main attraction in the hosts' bracket. They're joined by the Grand Canyon Antelopes (WAC), playing only its third Division I schedule, the Houston Cougars (American), and the Marshall Thundering Herd (C-USA). The quartet of visitors is comprised of the Eastern Illinois Panthers (OVC), North Carolina Central Eagles (MEAC), Omaha Mavericks (Summit), and Southern Jaguars (SWAC). The Eagles dropped into the NIT last season after being stunned in the MEAC semifinals.
This will be the second consecutive Christmas week trip to Vegas for Houston, who finished third in the 2014 Las Vegas Classic.
Have any of these teams played in this event before?
None of the eight featured in either of this tournament's two previous incarnations.
How about in other Global Sports events?
As I wrote in the Emerald Coast Classic piece, Global Sports does a fantastic job of getting schools to commit to tournaments over multiple seasons.
Just last season, three of the four visitors (all but Omaha) played in the lower bracket of the first-ever Emerald Coast Classic, with NCCU winning title, while Marshall participated in the round-robin Global Sports Showcase, anchored by Louisville. The 2013-14 season saw Grand Canyon, NCCU, Southern, and Wyoming featured in separate Global events, and the Cowboys defeated the Eagles and Jaguars (and South Dakota) in the 2012 Global Sports Showcase in Laramie. Marshall and NCCU placed themselves in separate round-robins in 2011, with the Thundering Herd doing the same in 2009 and 2010.
Have any of these teams met in other recent exempt tournaments?
Since the "two in four" rule's end in 2006, that year's Rainbow Classic was the only non-Global event that featured two teams included in this field. Houston and Wyoming did not meet in that eight-team bracket, which was won by host Hawaii.
So, what do the brackets look like?
The hosts' semifinals are set, and they look like this, according to Houston's schedule.
The Cowboys are the favorite here, especially since both the Herd and Cougars finished last season with losing records, and the 'Lopes barely managed a winning record in a decimated WAC.
As for the visitors' bracket, the two HBCUs are paired, as are the two Midwestern schools, according to Southern's schedule.
Tomorrow, this series concludes (at least when it comes to bracketed tournaments) with a look at a big event in Honolulu.
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