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2017 Savannah Invitational Primer

This summer’s mini-wave of conference realignment forced this event to adjust its format.

The 2017 Savannah Invitational field
Graphic by Chris Dobbertean. Images via

To catch up on all of the posts in this series visit the 2017-18 Early Season Events Hub.

What Is It?

The Savannah Invitational

How Long Has This Event Been Around?

This event is a relative newcomer, as it began just last season.

When And Where Is It?

After a series of on-campus games on November 11th, 19th, and 21st, the four host schools will play a pair of showcase doubleheaders at the Savannah Civic Center on Friday, November 24th and Saturday, November 26th. The three visiting schools will play a round-robin at Samford in Birmingham, Alabama between November 24th and 26th.

Who's Playing?

The 2017 Savannah Invitational participants grouped by showcase matchups
Graphic by Chris Dobbertean. Images via

Valparaiso’s late move from the Horizon League to the Missouri Valley Conference forced this event to change formats from a bracketed tournament to a showcase, with the two MVC squads playing the other pair. Oddly enough, last season’s visitors’ bracket, also played in Savannah, also consisted of preset matchups.

Friday’s doubleheader looks like this:

And teams will swap partners for Saturday:

  • Loyola of Chicago vs. Kent State
  • Valparaiso vs. UNCW

The Samford Bulldogs (SoCon) will host the Mississippi Valley Delta Devils (SWAC) and Southeastern Louisiana Lions (Southland) for the visitors’ round-robin after the trio participate in a series of on-campus games with the hosts. I’ve organized these matchups by home team, as UNCW is not hosting any of the three Division I visitors.

  • Kent State vs. Mississippi Valley State and Southeastern Louisiana
  • Loyola vs. Samford and Mississippi Valley State
  • UNCW vs. North Carolina Wesleyan (non-D1)
  • Valparaiso vs. Southeastern Louisiana and Samford

Did Any Of These Teams Reach The 2017 Postseason?

UNCW advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the second straight season but couldn’t get past the Virginia Cavaliers in the First Round. It was a similar story for MAC champion Kent State, which fell to the UCLA Bruins by a 97-80 score. Valpo’s season ended at the hands of the Illinois Fighting Illini in the NIT’s opening round.

As for the visitors, the Liberty Flames eliminated Samford from the Postseason Tournament in the second round.

How Strong Is This Event?

Based on the average four-year rankings of the participants, the 2017 Savannah Invitational ranks as follows when compared to other tournaments:

  • Hosts’ Showcase: 2nd of 9 events with set matchups
  • Visitors’ Subregional: 9th of 9 events with set matchups

Have Any Of These Teams Played In This Event Before?

Since this event is only in its second year, no.

Are There Any Other Notable Recent Meetings Between These Teams?

There haven’t been all that many over the last 10 seasons.

Kent State won at Loyola in a 2013 BracketBuster game by seven, but the Ramblers returned the favor in the rematch in November 2014. Going slightly further back, Valpo defeated the Golden Flashes in OT in November 2012 on the road.

Mississippi Valley State traveled to Ohio last season and Kent State handed them an 93-63 defeat for their trouble. The Delta Devils also lost by 16 to Southeastern Louisiana in the consolation game of Southern Mississippi’s New Year’s tournament back in 2010.

Who Won 2016’s Edition?

The Akron Zips edged the Mercer Bears, 65-63, in the inaugural final. With a 2-0 record, the Georgia Southern Eagles claimed the visitors’ crown.

Did Any 2016 Teams Reach The Postseason?

Akron’s season ended with an 85-69 loss at UT Arlington in the NIT’s second round after the Zips won at Houston in the first round. Otherwise, only Georgia Southern played beyond its conference tournament—the Eagles lost to Utah Valley in the CBI’s first round.

Will This Event Be On TV?

Unfortunately, this event will probably not air anywhere on an already busy weekend.

Who’s Your Pick To Win It?

Two of this field’s four host teams are going through a transition this November—UNCW is breaking in a new coach, while Valpo is entering a new conference. It’s quite possible Loyola could finish higher than the Crusaders in the Valley race. And with the showcase format, there’s a great chance that all four teams share the spoils in Savannah.

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