To catch up on all of the posts in this series visit the 2016-17 Early Season Events hub.
What Is It?
The Battle 4 Atlantis (official website)
How Long Has This Event Been Around?
This tournament started in 2011 and has become one of college basketball's most prestigious early season events in those five short years.
When And Where Is It?
The eight Bahamas-bound teams will each play one of four Mainland bracket teams at home in mid-November before heading to the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island. The first round is set for Wednesday, November 23rd; the semifinals for Thanksgiving Day, November 24th; and the finals for Friday, November 25th.
Here are the eight teams grouped by their quarterfinal matchups and placed in bracket order. The TV schedule doesn't match, however. You can see this discrepancy on the full bracket.
Old Dominion represents Conference USA, this tournament's sponsoring conference.
Michigan State Spartans (Big Ten)
St. John's Red Storm (Big East)
VCU Rams (A 10)
Baylor Bears (Big 12)
Wichita State Shockers (MVC)
LSU Tigers (SEC)
Louisville Cardinals (ACC)
Old Dominion Monarchs (C-USA)
Logos from SportsLogos.net
Did Any Of These Teams Make The NCAAs or NIT Last Season?
Half of 2016's field—Baylor, Michigan State (both First Round upset victims), VCU (Second Round), and Wichita State (Second Round after a First Four win)—qualified for the NCAAs, and Louisville would have joined them had the school not self-imposed a postseason ban. Plus, Old Dominion won the inaugural Vegas 16 championship.
Have Any Of These Teams Made The Trip Before?
Louisville and VCU both return four years after their 2012 appearances. The Cardinals fell to the Duke Blue Devils, their future ACC rivals, in the championship game. Meanwhile, the Rams finished fourth, defeating the Memphis Tigers in the quarterfinals before falling to the Blue Devils and the Missouri Tigers.
While the quartet of Mainland teams aren't all known, the FGCU Eagles are scheduled to host the subregional. Back in 2012, FGCU won the Battle 4 Atlantis Mainland round—and later became the first 15 seed to reach the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament. The win in the 2012 subregional was supposed to give the Eagles a ticket to the main bracket for this year, but they elected to host the undercard event again instead.
Any Other Notable Recent Meetings?
Louisville and Michigan State enter this event on a collision course for day three—and a rematch of last season's 71-67 Spartan home win the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Sparty also eliminated the Cardinals from the 2015 NCAAs in the Elite Eight. Louisville last defeated MSU in the 2012 Sweet Sixteen.
On day two, the Cardinals could meet Wichita State, a little more than three years after their National Semifinal encounter in Atlanta, two nights before Rick Pitino's team won the 2013 National Championship.
Michigan State topped the Shockers in the Old Spice Classic's fifth-place game in 2008. Both were in the 2010 Maui field, but didn't meet.
St. John's lost to Baylor in the 2012 Charleston Classic third-place game. ODU defeated LSU in the 2014 Paradise Jam quarterfinals; however, the Bayou Bengals and VCU didn't meet in the 2011 edition of the Charleston event.
Even though VCU left the CAA after the 2011-12 season, the Rams continue to play Old Dominion on an annual basis, holding a 3-1 advantage in their non-conference meetings. They're placed on opposite sides of this bracket for that reason.
In a similar vein, St. John's and Louisville were Big East rivals between 2005 and 2013, with the Red Storm's last win in the series coming in February 2010.
Who Won Last Year?
Did Any 2015 Entrants Make The NCAAs Or NIT?
A whopping six of the eight Bahamas bracket teams made the Big Dance in 2016. Champion Syracuse made it the furthest, reaching the Final Four—defeating the Gonzaga Bulldogs in the Sweet Sixteen. Texas A&M joined the Zags at that stage, while UConn fell in round two. The Texas Longhorns and Michigan Wolverines both dropped their Round of 64 games, but John Beilein's team topped the Tulsa Golden Hurricane in the First Four.
Will It Be On TV?
The ESPN Networks and AXS TV will split coverage for the second year in a row. ESPN or ESPN2 will have the day games, including the championship semifinals on Thanksgiving Day afternoon and the third-place and championship games on Black Friday. On those two days, AXS TV's evening slots feature consolation bracket coverage.
Who Do You Think Will Win?
I'm not exaggerating when I say this field would have been more exciting last year. Just consider the players these eight teams lost to either graduation or early entry to the NBA Draft: Damion Lee, Trey Lewis and Chinanu Onuaku from Louisville; Denzel Valentine, Bryn Forbes, and Matt Costello from MSU; Ben Simmons and Tim Quarterman from LSU; Ron Baker and Fred Van Vleet from Wichita State; and Melvin Johnson from VCU. That's a lot of talent.
So, the teams you'd figure would have done the best jobs of reloading—Louisville and Michigan State—are heavy favorites to play for the title. The Baylor-VCU and Wichita State-LSU quarterfinals look more like coin flips.
Michigan State over St. John's
Baylor over VCU
Wichita State over LSU
Louisville over ODU
Michigan State over Baylor
Louisville over Wichita State
VCU over St. John's
LSU over ODU
7th/8th Place: ODU over St. John's
5th/6th Place: VCU over LSU
3rd/4th Place: Baylor over Wichita State
Championship: Michigan State over Louisville