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2017’s Non-Exempt Bracketed Tournaments

After years of reduced numbers, four-team bracketed tournaments seem to be in the midst of a mini-renaissance.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Virginia vs North Carolina-Wilmington Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

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

If you look at the past results section of most programs’ media guides, you’ll notice that four-team tournaments—held both on and off-campus— were common up until the late 80s and early 90s. Their number has dwindled since then and last season, UTEP’s Sun Bowl Invitational was the only non-exempt bracketed tournament on the schedule. But that number has unexpectedly jumped to four for December 2017.

Basketball Hall Of Fame Belfast Classic

Graphic by Chris Dobbertean. Logos via

These four games will mark the first-ever NCAA basketball games played in Europe. None of the four participants reached the postseason in 2017, but all should contend this season.

The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference sponsors this tournament, which will take place in Belfast’s Odyssey Arena, home of the Belfast Giants hockey team and the Friendship Four college hockey tournament, on Friday, December 1st (semifinals) and Saturday, December 2nd (finals). All four games will appear on CBSSN in the morning and early afternoon hours.

Note that it’s possible, though unlikely, that Manhattan and Towson could meet twice in two different countries this season. Both the Jaspers and Tigers are in the Gulf Coast Showcase’s pre-Thanksgiving field, but they’d both have to match results on the first two days to meet on the third day in Estero, Fla. Both have five tournament games on their schedules, while La Salle, also featuring the Hall of Fame’s Tip-Off event in Connecticut, has four.

This new event ranks 12th out of 24 four-team bracketed tournaments and 24th out of 38 bracketed tournaments.

The Bulldog Bash

Graphic by Chris Dobbertean. Images via, except The Citadel (Wikipedia).

On the same weekend four teams take the floor in Belfast, four others will gather at McAlister Field House in Charleston, S.C. for another bracketed event.

The Retrievers were the only one of the four teams to participate in the last postseason ( Tournament semifinals) or to even manage a winning record.

With its participation in this event, Marist (representing the MAAC in the AdvoCare Invitational) will play five tournament games during the regular season, while UMBC, hosting the Mainland bracket of the Battle 4 Atlantis, will play a quartet.

The Citadel’s tournament ranks 23rd out of 24 four-team bracketed tournaments and 37th out of 38 bracketed tournaments.

New Orleans Shootout

Graphic by Chris Dobbertean. Logos via

The Xavier Convocation Center in New Orleans will host four teams on Thursday, December 21st and Friday, December 22nd.

Fort Wayne participated in the Tournament, losing in round two, while Liberty fell in that event’s quarterfinals. A 23-win Louisiana Tech squad, however, didn’t participate in any postseason tournament.

Of the four teams in this field, only Fort Wayne is not participating in another bracketed event. Alabama State and La. Tech are scheduled for four elimination games this regular season, while Liberty has five on its docket (though three will be at home, thanks to the relocation of the Paradise Jam).

The New Orleans Shootout ranks 14th out of 24 four-team bracketed tournaments and 27th out of 38 bracketed tournaments.

Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational

Graphic by Chris Dobbertean. Logos via

The lone returning event might just be the best, as UNCW is coming off consecutive NCAA appearances (even though their attempt at a hat trick will come under a new head coach), North Dakota State won 19 games in 2016-17, and UTEP won 13 of its last 17 last season.

The hosts finished fourth in this event in 2016, losing to both Maryland Eastern Shore and UC Irvine. The Miners last won the title in 2014.

UTEP’s Don Haskins Center will host this event over the same dates the New Orleans Shootout takes place—December 21st and 22nd.

This venerable tournament ranks 10th out of 24 four-team bracketed tournaments and 21st out of 38 bracketed tournaments.

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