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2016 Hall Of Fame Tip-Off Primer: The First Of Multiple Duke Crowns This Season?

While the defending national champs head to Charleston for tournament play, the team that's among the favorites to claim Villanova's title visits an arena at a Connecticut casino.

Geoff Burke-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 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off (official website)

How Long Has This Event Been Around?

From last year's primer, with a slight modification at the end...

This event is the spiritual, if not necessarily actual, continuation of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Classic played in the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame's actual hometown of Springfield, Massachusetts—sometimes as a single game, sometimes as a tournament up until 2010. That year's event, featuring USC, Rider, and New Mexico State, among others was a tournament, but with a more convoluted format than the one launched in Connecticut in 2011.

Since then, eight teams have been invited to play-four host schools, which comprise the Naismith Bracket, and four visitors, assigned to the Springfield bracket. The Springfield teams each visit two Naismith teams, and all eight convene in New England to play out two separate brackets. Typically, these are elimination tournaments, but in 2014, thanks to the presence of Florida State and Notre Dame, Providence and UMass each played the two ACC teams in the ESPN-broadcast showcase games at the Mohegan Sun.

2015's tournament returned to a pair of four-team brackets for the final weekend of play.

When And Where Is It?

Each of the four Springfield Bracket teams will play a pair of road games at Naismith Bracket opposition between November 11th and 16th. All eight teams will then head to the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. on Saturday, November 19th and Sunday, November 20th. The Naismith semifinals and finals will be played during the day session, while the Springfield's showcase matchups are scheduled for the evening. Note that the mid-majors are playing a modified round-robin, presumably because of a regular season matchup between two of the participants is in the works.

You can check out the full schedule on the Hall of Fame Tip-Off's website, though a modification is coming, which I'll discuss momentarily.

Who's Playing?

Naismith Bracket (Hosts)

The semifinals are clearly set up to give us a Duke-Cincinnati showdown on the afternoon of Sunday, November 20th.

Duke Blue Devils (ACC)
Penn State Nittany Lions (Big Ten)
Penn St
Cincinnati Bearcats (American)
Rhode Island Rams (A 10)

Logos from

Springfield Bracket (Visitors)

Here's where the schedule modification is coming. The original schedule features an Albany game at Duke on November 12th. However, New York governor Andrew Cuomo banned New York State employees' non-essential travel to North Carolina following that state's passage of the controversial HB2 law in March. Now, the Great Danes' visit to Cameron Indoor is off the Blue Devils' slate. (Note that, as usual, Duke plays its two home games in an exempt event like this on consecutive days.)

The likely fix here is for Albany to be sent to Penn State, with the Nittany Lions' original opposition, Marist, headed to Durham. While the Red Foxes are located in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., they represent a private school that's not affected by Cuomo's order.

Update 08/17/2016: And that is indeed what happened. Duke is now playing Marist on November 11th, with the game against Grand Canyon now scheduled for November 12th. Albany will now play on the 11th at Penn State.

Marist serves as the representative of the MAAC, this event's sponsoring conference.

Note that each of these four schools' matchups in Uncasville are already set.

Team Road Games Showcase Opponents
Albany Great Danes
Penn State
Grand Canyon
Brown Bears
Rhode Island
Grand Canyon Antelopes
Penn State
Marist Red Foxes
Rhode Island
Grand Canyon

Logos from

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

The Selection Committee placed both Duke and Cincinnati in the NCAA Tournament's West Region. The fourth-seeded Blue Devils reached the Sweet Sixteen, where they lost to the top-seeded Oregon Ducks. The Bearcats, meanwhile, dropped a two-point decision to the Saint Joseph's Hawks in the 8/9 game in the Ducks' pod.

None of the remaining six teams were invited to the NCAA or NIT. Albany dropped its first game in the CBI, to the Ohio Bobcats. Grand Canyon, ineligible for the NCAA and NIT due to its transitional Division I membership, received a third consecutive bid to the Tournament, reaching that event's quarterfinals.

Have Any Of These Teams Made The Trip Before?

Marist and Penn State both participated in 2011, but didn't meet. The Nittany Lions finished third in the Naismith Bracket that season, falling to the Kentucky Wildcats in the semifinals before defeating the USF Bulls the next day. As for the Red Foxes, they only managed to defeat the Radford Highlanders in their four games.

In 2012, Albany managed to win on the Washington Huskies' floor in the on-campus rounds, but the Great Danes only went 2-2. They were steamrolled by the Ohio State Buckeyes and split their two games in Connecticut. Rhode Island also participated that season as a host, but lost all four of its games in Danny Hurley's first season in charge.

Who's Played In Other Hall of Fame Events Lately?

The Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame has expanded its event offerings in the past couple of seasons. Last year, Albany participated in one of the two five-team round-robins the HoopHall sponsored—capped by showcase games in Miami. The Great Danes played in the one featuring Kentucky and USF, winning just once in four outings—by a single point over the NJIT Highlanders.

Any Other Notable Recent Meetings?

Nothing that sticks out recently. Albany did defeat Marist by 23 on the road last season. Presumably, they're playing in New York's capital this season, forcing the showcase format for the Springfield Bracket.

Who Won Last Year?

The Purdue Boilermakers swept through 2015's Naismith Bracket, defeating the Old Dominion Monarchs and Florida Gators handily in Uncasville. On the other hand, the Springfield champion Buffalo Bulls dropped both of their on-campus games before winning two at the Mohegan Sun.

Did Any 2015 Entrants Make The NCAAs Or NIT?

Purdue, Buffalo, and third-place finisher Saint Joe's all reached the big tourney, with the Hawks winning a game. Florida reached the NIT quarterfinals, despite having to play on the road as a top seed due to arena renovations.

Old Dominion claimed the inaugural Vegas 16 crown, though only eight teams qualified for that event. Vermont, meanwhile, reached the CBI's semifinals, where the Catamounts fell to the eventual champion, the Nevada Wolf Pack.

Will It Be On TV?

On-campus games fall under the host schools' respective broadcast contracts, and given the matchups, you can expect most to be streaming (ESPN3 for Duke and Cincinnati, BTN2Go for Penn State).

For the Connecticut games, Saturday's Naismith semifinals will be relegated to ESPN3 due to football per Sunday's championship game will air first on ESPN2, with the consolation game taking a later slot that channel. Over the past few years, ESPN3 has carried the Springfield Bracket games on Saturday and Sunday evening.

Who Do You Think Will Win?

Duke, which returns Grayson Allen, Luke Kennard, Matt Jones, Amile Jefferson (thanks to an injury appeal), among others, also adds 5-star center Marques Bolden, 5-star wing Jayson Tatum, highly-touted point guard Frank Jackson, and power forward Harry Giles (if his injured ACL is healed up). That's a stacked lineup that none of the other Naismith Bracket teams should be able to beat. Penn State, even with some quality recruits of its own coming in, simply won't be at the Blue Devils' level on the season's second weekend.

The Cincinnati-Rhode Island semifinal should be an intriguing matchup, as both teams figure to be in the 20-25 range in the preseason polls. E.C. Matthews will be back for the Rams after missing almost all of last season with a knee injury, while Troy Caupain, Gary Clark, and Jacob Evans III provide the Bearcats with a talented returning core for the new campaign.


Duke over Penn State
Cincinnati over Rhode Island


Duke over Cincinnati for the title, URI over Penn State for third

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