To catch up on all of the posts in this series visit the 2016-17 Early Season Events hub.
What Is It?
The Directv Wooden Legacy (official website)
How Long Has This Event Been Around?
From last season's primer...
The Wooden Legacy is the result of the merger of the 76/Directv/Anaheim Classic, which ESPN created as the Disneyland equivalent of the then-Old Spice Classic (now AdvoCare Invitational) in 2007, with the non-exempt John R. Wooden Classic. That event began in 1994 as a neutral-site doubleheader at the Honda Center (or Arrowhead Pond as it was then called). This event always featured UCLA, and in its final two seasons, 2011 and 2012, was reduced to one game, with the 2011 edition a conference game against Arizona.
The 76/Directv/Anaheim Classic was played at the Anaheim Arena, which is part of the Convention Center complex directly across Katella Street from Disneyland. This is where I spent Thanksgiving weekend of 2009.
When And Where Is It?
As part of the merger, the Directv Wooden Legacy left Anaheim Arena for a pair of venues in Orange County. Action on Thanksgiving Day, November 24th and Friday, November 25th takes place at Titan Gym, the Cal State Fullerton Titans' home court. Sunday action—this season scheduled for November 27th—shifts to the Honda Center, which also serves as the venue for the Big West Tournament in March.
The Big West happens to sponsor this event and annually supplies one of the eight entrants—this season, it's Cal State Northridge's turn. I've again listed the participants by their quarterfinal matchups.
Texas A&M Aggies (SEC)
Cal State Northridge Matadors (Big West)
New Mexico Lobos (MW)
Virginia Tech Hokies (ACC)
Dayton Flyers (A 10)
Nebraska Cornhuskers (Big Ten)
Portland Pilots (WCC)
UCLA Bruins (Pac-12)
Logos from SportsLogos.net
Here's the full bracket, courtesy of ESPN Events.
Did Any Of These Teams Make The NCAAs or NIT Last Season?
After a season that saw Nebraska, New Mexico, and UCLA struggle and Cal State Northridge banned from the postseason, only Texas A&M and Dayton made the NCAAs, with the Aggies reaching the Sweet Sixteen (thanks in no small part to an epic collapse by the Northern Iowa Panthers). Virginia Tech qualified for the NIT, where the Hokies fell to the BYU Cougars in a thrilling second round game in Provo.
Are There Any Non-Bracketed Games?
Just one—CSUN visits UCLA on November 13th. The Matadors, like most (but not all) Big West squads, have never defeated the Bruins. They even lost by a 77-45 count at Pauley Pavilion last season.
Have Any Of These Teams Made The Trip Before?
Six of these eight teams participated in a previous edition of what was then the 76 Classic, with only Dayton and Nebraska debuting in 2016.
Three teams—Portland, Texas A&M, and UCLA—played at the Anaheim Arena during my 2009 trip. It was not a happy Thanksgiving weekend for Bruin fans, as a Ben Howland-coached team that ended up going 14-18 went 0-3, including a loss to the Long Beach State 49ers in the seventh-place game. That defeat came just 13 days after the Bruins dropped their first game ever to a Big West foe—an embarrassing season-opening home loss to Cal State Fullerton.
Portland, which defeated the Bruins in the quarterfinals, was eventually trounced by the West Virginia Mountaineers in the championship game, while A&M edged the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the third-place game.
It's somewhat surprising that UCLA hasn't played in this tournament since 2009, but given contracts in place and the 2013 Wooden Classic-Anaheim Classic merger, it simply took this long to get the Bruins back.
In 2010, Virginia Tech topped CSUN in the quarterfinals, with the Hokies eventually finishing as runners-up to the UNLV Runnin' Rebels and the Matadors claiming sixth with a win in three tries. One year later, New Mexico won twice after surprisingly dropping its quarterfinal to the Santa Clara Broncos.
Who's Played In Other ESPN Events Recently?
While CSUN, Portland, and UCLA have only ever played in this tournament, the other five squads have been somewhat frequent guests of the Worldwide Leader. Dayton and New Mexico have been particularly active—the Flyers have played in three ESPN-owned events in a row and six in the past eight years, while the Lobos are in their fourth consecutive and fifth in six seasons.
The Flyers and Lobos both played in the 2014 Puerto Rico Tip-Off, along with Texas A&M. Third-place finisher Dayton topped the Aggies in the quarterfinals, while A&M handled New Mexico in the fifth-place game. UNM and Nebraska both participated in the 2013 Charleston Classic, but didn't meet.
Virginia Tech's played in three previous ESPN Events, but none under current coach Buzz Williams. In fact, the Hokies' last was their 2010 trip to Anaheim.
Based on the crowds at Walt Disney World last season, expect Dayton fans to rival the UCLA ones in their presence and intensity.
Any Other Notable Recent Meetings?
Other than another UCLA win over CSUN in November of 2013, there aren't any others over the past five seasons. Pay particular attention to the fact that Texas A&M hasn't met former Big 12 rival Nebraska since the Cornhuskers left that league for the Big Ten after the 2010-11 season.
Who Won Last Year?
Denzel Valentine and the Michigan State Spartans claimed the 2015 Directv Wooden Legacy championship with a 77-64 win over Kris Dunn and the Providence Friars.
Did Any 2015 Entrants Make The NCAAs Or NIT?
The Spartans, Friars, and Arizona Wildcats all made the field of 68, but only Providence won a game. Last season's Big West rep, the UC Irvine Anteaters, dropped the CollegeInsider.com Tournament final to the Columbia Lions.
Will It Be On TV?
As you can see in the graphic above, all 12 games will appear on an ESPN outlet, with two streaming exclusively on ESPN3. The championship game will air on ESPN on Sunday night to close the holiday weekend out.
Who Do You Think Will Win?
Even if UCLA struggled last season, don't expect them to lose to Portland again in the quarterfinals or to go 0-3. Still, Dayton and Texas A&M will be favored, though Virginia Tech is poised to build on its NIT trip.
Texas A&M over Cal State Northridge
Virginia Tech over New Mexico
Dayton over Nebraska
UCLA over Portland
Texas A&M over Virginia Tech
Dayton over UCLA
New Mexico over Cal State Northridge
Nebraska over Portland
7th/8th Place: Cal State Northridge over Portland
5th/6th Place: New Mexico over Nebraska
3rd/4th Place: Virginia Tech over UCLA
Championship: Texas A&M over Dayton
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