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2016 Emerald Coast Classic Primer: Teams In Transition Head To The Florida Panhandle

Iowa, Providence, and Virginia all lost significant amounts of talent from their 2016 NCAA Tournament teams, while Memphis will be in the early stages of its Tubby Smith era. This relatively new tournament will be a good litmus test for the four hosts, though that statement doesn't really apply to their campus-site games. The four visitors aren't really known for basketball success.

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 Emerald Coast Classic (official website)

How Long Has This Event Been Around?

This tournament is in only its third season, as it began in 2014.

When And Where Is It?

The Emerald Coast Classic is yet another spilt-bracket event that guarantees its participants four games each. In mid-November, each of the four visitors will play a pair of road games against host teams. All eight squads will then travel to Niceville, Florida to play a pair of brackets at the Arena at Northwest Florida State College. Semifinals are scheduled for Friday, November 25th, with the finals slated for Saturday, November 26th. The visitors will play in the early session on both days, with the hosts lining up in the evening.

Who's Playing?

The hosts' semifinals feature three 2016 NCAA squads and a Memphis outfit that will face its first early tests under new head coach Tubby Smith.

Virginia
Virginia Cavaliers (ACC)
vs. 
Iowa Hawkeyes (Big Ten)
Iowa
Memphis
Memphis Tigers (American) 
vs. 
Providence Friars (Big East)
Providence

On the other hand, none of the four visiting schools have ever qualified for the NCAAs at the Division I level.

Team Road Games Semifinal Opponent
Grambling
Grambling State Tigers
(SWAC)
Providence
Virginia
UTRGV
St. Francis Brooklyn
St. Francis-Brooklyn Terriers
(NEC)
Virginia
Providence
Savannah State
Savannah St
Savannah State Tigers
(MEAC)
Iowa
Memphis
St. Francis-Brooklyn
UTRGV
UTRGV Vaqueros
(WAC)
Memphis
Iowa
Grambling State

Logos from SportsLogos.net

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

Virginia reached the Elite Eight, while Iowa and Providence both fell in the Second Round. Memphis reached the American Athletic Conference final, where the Connecticut Huskies prevented them from stealing a bid right before the Selection Show. The Tigers didn't participate in the NIT, however.

Of the visitors, only Savannah State played in a postseason event, losing to the Texas-Arlington Mavericks in the first round of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament.

Have Any Of These Teams Made The Trip Before?

Since the Emerald Coast Classic will only complete its four-year cycle next season, none of these teams have made the trip to the Florida Panhandle previously.

Who's Played In Other Global Sports Events Recently?

Iowa participated in the Dale Howard Classic round-robin in 2011, getting blown out by the Creighton Bluejays in the event's showcase game in Des Moines. One season before, Memphis swept through the Global Sports Challenge round-robin, most notably defeating the LSU Tigers in Tupelo, Mississippi.

The visitors have participated in Global Sports tournaments a bit more frequently. This will be Savannah State's sixth appearance in such an event since 2010 and UTRGV's third since 2008, though all of those came when the school was known as UT Pan American.

Next season. Iowa will join the Cincinnati Bearcats, UAB Blazers, and Wyoming Cowboys in the inaugural Cayman Islands Classic, a new event Global Sports is launching with the sponsorship of the Mountain West Conference.

Any Other Notable Recent Meetings?

Virginia blew out Memphis in the 2014 NCAA Tournament Round of 32, while Iowa eliminated the Cavaliers from the 2013 in the quarterfinals.

Who Won Last Year?

The Iowa State Cyclones claimed the 2015 championship thanks to victories over the Virginia Tech Hokies and Illinois Fighting Illini in Niceville. The Chattanooga Mocs, who defeated Illinois on its temporary home floor in Springfield, won the visitors' bracket.

Did Any 2015 Entrants Make The NCAAs Or NIT?

The Cyclones reached the Sweet Sixteen, where they fell to Virginia, of all teams. Chattanooga also qualified for the Big Dance, losing to the Indiana Hoosiers in a 5/12 game. Oddly enough, the BYU Cougars eliminated UAB (first round) and Virginia Tech (second round) from the NIT.

Will It Be On TV?

CBS Sports Network will air both hosts' semifinals on Friday and the championship game on Saturday. As usual, campus-site games fall under the home teams' individual media contracts, so expect to see Memphis and Virginia on ESPN3, Iowa on BTN, and Providence on FS1 or FS2.

Who Do You Think Will Win?

Each of the three NCAA teams from last season has significant holes to fill, while a relatively young Memphis squad could find itself in position to break out. Still, London Perrantes and Virginia should be in best position to claim a pair of victories.

Given how the four visitors generally struggled last season, that bracket is rather wide open, though the winner of the Savannah State-St. Francis semifinal should have a clear edge in the championship game.

Semifinals

Hosts: Virginia over Iowa and Memphis over Providence
Visitors: St. Francis-Brooklyn over Savannah State and UTRGV over Grambling State

Finals

Hosts: Virginia over Memphis (championship) and Providence over Iowa (consolation)
Visitors: St. Francis-Brooklyn over UTRGV (championship) and Savannah State over Grambling State (consolation)

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