To catch up on all of the posts in this series visit the 2017-18 Early Season Events Hub.
What Is It?
This is Fox Sports’ Christmas week tournament. The Las Vegas Invitational is their Thanksgiving event. Both usually have the same format (but not this season) and take place in the same venue.
How Long Has This Event Been Around?
From the 2015 primer...
The first Las Vegas Classic took place in December of 2001. Cincinnati went 4-0 to claim that event's crown, which saw each of the eight participants (Akron, UIC, ULM, Mississippi State, Purdue, Richmond, and Texas A&M also took part) play one game on-campus and three at Valley High School, a format followed by the earliest versions of the Las Vegas Invitational.
It looks like the December event took a few years off (considering searches for "Las Vegas Classic" for 2002 and 2003 result with info on the November event) reappearing in 2004 with a confusing format featuring six participants who all played two on-campus games and two in Vegas. The split-bracket format was established in 2005, though the visitors' bracket didn't technically exist then due to a reduced field. The 2006 event, won by Kansas State, was the first to take place at Orleans Arena, which first hosted the Las Vegas Invitational one month earlier.
When And Where Is It?
The four host teams will each welcome a pair of squads from the visitors’ bracket between December 14th and 19th. Then, all eight teams will head to Las Vegas for two further games played on Friday, December 22nd and Saturday, December 23rd. For the visitors, those contests will take the form of a traditional, two-round bracket. However, for whatever reason, the hosts are playing a showcase this year.
Like the Las Vegas Invitational, the Orleans Arena at the Orleans Resort is the venue, not the larger and newer T-Mobile Arena elsewhere on the Strip.
The hosts’ showcase results in a pair of doubleheaders and no meetings between San Francisco and Southern Illinois or Duquesne and Nevada:
- San Francisco Dons (WCC) and Southern Illinois Salukis (MVC) vs. Duquesne Dukes (Atlantic 10) and Nevada Wolf Pack (Mountain West)
The visitors’ bracket, on the other hand, truly is one—with a pair of East vs. West showdowns guaranteed for day two:
- North Carolina A&T Aggies (MEAC) vs. Radford Highlanders (Big South)
- Lamar Cardinals (Southland) vs. UC Davis Aggies (Big West)
The on-campus games aren’t as perfectly regionally-paired as the Las Vegas Invitational’s in November:
- Lamar and North Carolina A&T at Duquesne and Southern Illinois
- Radford and UC Davis at San Francisco and Nevada
Did Any Of These Teams Reach The 2017 Postseason?
A trendy upset pick heading into March, Nevada lost an NCAA Tournament 5/12 game to the Iowa State Cyclones. UC Davis, meanwhile, won its First Four game against the N.C. Central Eagles before ending its maiden NCAA trip with a loss to the Kansas Jayhawks.
San Francisco dropped a first round CBI game to the Rice Owls, while Lamar couldn’t get out of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament first round—the Texas State Bobcats eliminated the Cardinals in San Marcos.
How Strong Is This Field?
Based on the average four-year rankings of the participants, the 2017 Las Vegas Classic ranks as follows when compared to other events with set matchups:
- Hosts’ Showcase: 4th of 9 events with set matchups
- Visitors’ Bracket: 21st out of 24 four-team bracketed tournaments; 35th out of 38 bracketed tournaments
Have Any Of These Teams Played In This Event Before?
Nevada lost to the BYU Cougars and defeated the Tulsa Golden Hurricane to finish third in the 2009 Classic. Radford won the visitors’ bracket in 2013 by defeating the Sacred Heart Pioneers and FGCU Eagles.
What About Other Fox Sports Events Or Tournaments In Vegas?
Nevada couldn’t handle either UCLA Bruins or Missouri Tigers in the pre-Fox 2013 Las Vegas Invitational, an event that also had a showcase format, thanks to a previously-scheduled meeting between the Bruins and Tigers in Columbia.
North Carolina A&T traveled to Vegas for the 2012 Global Sports Classic and went 1-1 in its games at the Thomas & Mack Center.
Are There Any Other Notable Recent Meetings Between These Teams?
All games involving these squads over the past 10 seasons involve Nevada.
The Wolf Pack and SIU split a BracketBusters-related series played entirely in the 2008 calendar year, with each winning at home. Slightly more recently, Nevada swept a series with San Francisco played in December 2012 and November 2013 and another with UC Davis played over those same seasons.
Who Won 2016’s Edition?
Did Any 2016 Teams Reach The Postseason?
Both versions of the Men of Troy reached the NCAAs, but their fortunes varied. USC made it out of the First Four by avenging a 2016 First Round loss to the Providence Friars, then defeated the SMU Mustangs before dropping a four-point decision to the Baylor Bears in the Round of 32. Troy lost its First Round game to the Duke Blue Devils, though they gave the ACC power a scare in Greenville, South Carolina.
As for the lower-tier tournaments, Wyoming defeated the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers two games to one to win the CBI title.
Will This Event Be On TV?
FS1 will carry three of the four hosts’ games in Las Vegas, with FS2 picking up the San Francisco-Duquesne game that opens Friday’s action.
It looks like most of the on-campus games will be streaming at best, with Nevada (Mountain West Network) and San Francisco (TheW.tv) leading the way.
Who’s Your Pick To Win It?
It would be a surprise if Nevada failed to go 2-0 to claim the hosts’ crown, while the winner of the UC Davis-Lamar contest looks like the favorite in the visitors’ bracket.