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2015 Emerald Coast 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. Today, I look at an event in the Florida Panhandle that is entering just its second edition.

Brian Spurlock-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 Emerald Coast Classic (official website)

Where and when is it?

All eight teams will travel to Niceville, Florida, on the Panhandle's Emerald Coast for a pair of bracketed tournaments that will be held on Friday, November 27th and Saturday, November 28th. These games will take place at the Arena at Northwest Florida State College

The four host teams will each welcome two squads from the visitors' bracket for on-campus games either before or after the main event. Note that the two Illinois home games will be played in Springfield, as Assembly Hall is undergoing renovations.

When did this event begin?

Just last season, when Andy Kennedy's Ole Miss Rebels defeated his former team, Cincinnati, 66-54, in a meeting of two teams that ended up in the NCAAs.

Will it be on TV?

In 2014, CBS Sports Network aired only the championship game, while Emerald Coast Television streamed the other seven games played in Niceville. This season, CBSSN increased its commitment and will air both semifinals and the final. It's quite likely that you'll be easily able to see several on-campus games, rights for which revert to the home teams' respective media rights holders. That means at least the two Illinois home games will end up on BTN or its streaming service and Virginia Tech's should be picked up on ESPN3 or by an ACC broadcast partner.

Jog my memory. Who won in 2014?

While Ole Miss won the hosts' bracket, a team widely expected to earn an NCAA auto bid, that ultimately did not, won the visitors' version. North Carolina Central slipped by Northern Arizona by a 40-36 score. Seriously.

Who is participating in 2015?

This will be an early opportunity to see how the Iowa State Cyclones (Big 12) are operating under Steve Prohm, as they begin the post-Fred Hoiberg era. The Cyclones will be joined by, the UAB Blazers (C-USA) squad that edged them in the NCAA Round of 64, 2015 NIT entrant Illinois Fighting Illini (Big Ten), and Virginia Tech Hokies (ACC) in the hosts' bracket. The four visitors are the Alabama State Hornets (SWAC), Chattanooga Mocs (SoCon), Chicago State Cougars (WAC), and Jacksonville State Gamecocks (OVC). The Hornets and Mocs both recorded winning records in 2014-15, while the Cougars and Gamecocks weren't all that good.

Have any of these teams played in this event before?

Since this is only the second-ever Emerald Coast Classic, no. Check back in 2019.

How about in other Global Sports events?

Global Sports, organizer of this tournament, does a great job of getting schools to commit to tournaments over multiple seasons.

In 2014, even though Alabama State defeated Jacksonville State during the regular season in Montgomery, both participated in separate Global round-robins. Previously, the Hornets and Gamecocks joined Chicago State and Illinois in the 2013 Global Sports Invitational, a round-robin anchored by the Fighting Illini and Bradley Braves. Illinois went 4-0 in that event.

During the 2012-13 season, Iowa State was a host school for a Global Sports event that featured a two-round bracket at UNLV, while Jacksonville State was a visitor in the same tournament. The pair didn't play in the on-campus rounds. Alabama State, meanwhile, played in the Global Sports Main Event, anchored by Florida and UCF.

The two Alabama schools met In the 2011 Global Sports Challenge, highlighted by a Cincinnati-Marshall game, and Chicago State participated in that season's Dale Howard Classic, which included a neutral-site contest between Creighton and Iowa (two other frequent participants in Global events). In fact, the season before, Iowa State welcomed Creighton to that same Des Moines court for the Global Sports Hy Vee Challenge, and the Cyclones' second win of the season came at Alabama State's expense in that round-robin. Chattanooga and Jacksonville State also entered themselves in Global-run round-robins in 2010.

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

Outside of events run by this promoter, no.

Last season, Chicago State didn't play at Iowa State in the CBE Hall of Fame Classic and Chattanooga was not UAB's assigned Battle 4 Atlantis home game. However, Alabama State blew out Jacksonville State in a regularly-scheduled game in Montgomery.

Going further back in time, the paths of Chattanooga and Virginia Tech did not cross at the 2008 Puerto Rico Tip-Off.

So, what do the brackets look like?

We will only see an NCAA rematch in the final, as Iowa State and UAB were separated. However, you have to think an Illini-Cyclones championship game is the goal here.

Illinois-UAB
Iowa State-Virginia Tech

On the other hand, the two teams able to record winning records are paired together in the visitors' half of the draw. This would allow for an all-Alabama matchup on day two, however.

Chicago State-Jacksonville State
Alabama State-Chattanooga

On Monday, we head into the home stretch with a preview of a new tournament in Las Vegas that isn't really all that new.

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