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2016 U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam Primer: Creighton And Saint Joe's Among Teams To Watch

On the surface, Ole Miss and N.C. State look like the Hawks' and Bluejays' main challengers, but funny things—like Hofstra's win over Florida State last season and Norfolk State's and Illinois State's run to recent finals—happen in the Caribbean. That means there's hope for the three mid-majors in this field and a Washington State squad that last won on the third day of 2016.

Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

To catch up on all of the posts in this series visit the 2016-17 Early Season Events hub.

What Is It?

The U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam (official website)

How Long Has This Event Been Around?

From last season's primer...

The men's Paradise Jam began in 2001, a year after the women's version tipped off. From 2001 to 2005, six teams participated, and they were divided into a pair of three-team pools. Each trio played a round-robin, with matchups for the final crossover games based on placement within the groups.

Since 2006, the format has been that of a typical "three games in four days" bracket. The interesting thing about it is that the loser of the third-place game between the semifinal losers finishes fifth with a 1-2 record, while the winner of the consolation final claims fourth, thanks to a 2-1 mark. Usually, the third-place game loser claims fourth ahead of a team with a better record. Logic prevails!

Where And When Is It?

The Sport and Fitness Center of the St. Thomas campus of the University of the Virgin Islands, located just outside of Charlotte Amalie, will see four days worth of Division I basketball action. The quarterfinals take place on the Friday before Thanksgiving, November 18th. The consolation semifinals follow on Saturday, November 19th, with the championship semifinal doubleheader slated for the following day. All eight teams are back in action on Monday, November 21st to close things out.

Who's Playing?

Eight teams will make the trip to St. Thomas, with the quarterfinals paired as follows.

Loyola Chicago
Loyola (Chicago) Ramblers (MVC)
vs.
Saint Joseph's Hawks (A 10)
Saint Joes
ORU
Oral Roberts Golden Eagles (Summit)
vs.
Ole Miss Rebels (SEC)
Ole Miss
Montana
Montana Grizzlies (Big Sky)
vs.
North Carolina State Wolfpack (ACC)
NC State
Wazzu
Washington State Cougars (Pac-12)
vs.
Creighton Bluejays (Big East)
Creighton

Logos from SportsLogos.net

Here's a link to the full bracket.

Did Any Of These Teams Make The NCAAs or NIT Last Season?

Saint Joe's fell in the second round of the NCAAs to the Oregon Ducks, while Creighton made it all the way to the NIT quarterfinals, where the BYU Cougars grounded them.

In other postseason action, Montana was the Nevada Wolf Pack's first victim en route to the CBI crown.

Are There Any Non-Bracketed Games?

Two actually. Montana heads to Ole Miss on November 24th for a rare Thanksgiving Day game. As I wrote in the introductory piece to this series, Creighton hosts Oral Roberts in the other, on December 17th, long after the conclusion of the event's mandated 14-day window.

Have Any Of These Teams Made The Trip Before?

Just two. Saint Joseph's was the first of these eight teams to make the trip to the Virgin Islands, finishing fifth in 2009. Ole Miss claimed third in 2011.

Who's Played In Other Basketball Travelers Events Lately?

Loyola went 1-2 in their trip to the Great Alaska Shootout last season, with their inability to follow up their non-bracketed win over the Toledo Rockets in the semifinals costing the Ramblers. Oral Roberts also won just once in their 2012 trip to Anchorage. In the same event in 2014, Washington State dropped its quarterfinal to the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos before rallying for two wins and a fourth-place finish. However, the Cougars did claim the 2009 title with a trio of wins.

Any Other Notable Recent Meetings?

Last season, I got to see Loyola stun Creighton in a matchup of a former Missouri Valley member and the school that replaced it. The loss played a cameo in the Jays' exclusion from the NCAA field. Ole Miss defeated the Bluejays in the semifinals of the inaugural Emerald Coast Classic in November of 2014—and the two wins in the Florida Panhandle helped push Andy Kennedy's team into the 2015 NCAA field. Saint Joe's defeated Washington State in the 2013 Old Spice Classic fifth-place game. The Hawks met Creighton four years in a row between 2010 and 2013 with the Jays winning three times.

Who Won Last Year?

The South Carolina Gamecocks defeated the DePaul Blue Demons, Hofstra Pride, and Tulsa Golden Hurricane over a four-day span to claim the 2015 Paradise Jam title and get themselves into the national consciousness.

Did Any 2015 Entrants Make The NCAAs Or NIT?

Last year's championship result was seemingly ignored by the Selection Committee, as the Golden Hurricane made the field of 68 at the Gamecocks' expense—and to say Tulsa's inclusion was controversial would be an understatement. Frank Haith's team repaid the Committee with a five-point loss to the Michigan Wolverines in the First Four.

South Carolina and the Florida State Seminoles each won an NIT game, while Hofstra lost their opener after falling in the CAA Tournament final in heartbreaking fashion. Elsewhere, the Ohio Bobcats won two CBI games, while the Norfolk State Spartans were one-and-done in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament.

Will It Be On TV?

The CBS Sports Network is scheduled to air two quarterfinals on Friday, two semifinals on Sunday, and the third-place and championship tilts on the Monday night before Thanksgiving. The six non-televised games will be streamed on the Paradise Jam website if prior years are any indication.

Who Do You Think Will Win?

With Saint Joseph's and N.C. State losing DeAndre' Bembry and Cat Barber to the NBA respectively, and Ole Miss's top player, Stefan Moody, graduating, those three teams are likely to take a step back this season. However, given the weakness of the field's bottom four teams, you can't count them out. I'd make Creighton, who should be competitive in a loaded Big East, a slight favorite, however.

Montana, which finished just behind the Weber State Wildcats in the Big Sky race, could be a surprise semifinalist.

Quarterfinals

Saint Joseph's over Loyola
Ole Miss over Oral Roberts
Montana over N.C. State
Creighton over Washington State

Semifinals

Saint Joseph's over Ole Miss
Creighton over Montana
Oral Roberts over Loyola
N.C. State over Washington State

Placement Games

7th/8th Place: Washington State over Loyola
4th/6th Place: N.C. State over Oral Roberts
3rd/5th Place: Ole Miss over Montana
Championship: Creighton over Saint Joseph's

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