To catch up on all of the posts in this series visit the 2017-18 Early Season Events Hub.
What Is It?
How Long Has This Event Been Around?
Here’s the modified history of the event I included in my 2016 primer post...
This event is the spiritual, if not necessarily actual, continuation of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Classic played in the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame's home of Springfield, Massachusetts—sometimes as a single game, sometimes as a tournament up until 2010. That year's event, featuring USC, Rider, and New Mexico State, among others was a tournament, but with a more convoluted format than the one launched in Connecticut in 2011.
Since then, eight teams have been invited to play-four host schools, which comprise the Naismith Bracket, and four visitors, assigned to the Springfield bracket. The Springfield teams each visit two Naismith teams, and all eight convene in New England to play out two separate brackets. Typically, these are elimination tournaments, but in 2014, thanks to the presence of Florida State and Notre Dame, Providence and UMass each played the two ACC teams in the ESPN-broadcast showcase games at the Mohegan Sun.
2015's tournament returned to a pair of four-team brackets for the final weekend of play.
When And Where Is It?
All eight teams will head to the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut for the Naismith and Springfield Bracket semifinals on Saturday, November 18th and the finals on Sunday, November 19th. Of the eight on-campus games, seven will take place before the main event, with Sacred Heart’s November 24th trip to Northwestern (or Rosemont anyway) the lone exception.
The hosts’ Naismith Bracket will get things started on November 18th.
- Texas Tech Red Raiders (Big 12) vs. Boston College Eagles (ACC)
- La Salle Explorers (A 10) vs. Northwestern Wildcats (Big Ten)
And the visitors’ Springfield Bracket will fill that particular Saturday evening.
- Sacred Heart Pioneers (NEC) vs. Saint Peter’s Peacocks (MAAC)
- South Alabama Jaguars (Sun Belt) vs. Maine Black Bears (AE)
The MAAC serves as the Tip Off’s sponsoring conference, so the Peacocks are filling the league’s host spot.
The campus-site games break down like so.
- Boston College vs. Maine and Sacred Heart
- La Salle vs. Saint Peter’s and South Alabama
- Northwestern vs. Sacred Heart and Saint Peter’s
- Texas Tech vs. South Alabama and Maine
Did Any Of These Teams Reach The 2017 Postseason?
Not only did Northwestern reach its first ever NCAA Tournament last March, the Wildcats won a game and arguably should have knocked West No. 1 seed Gonzaga Bulldogs out in the Second Round. But the Wildcats were the only one of these eight teams to make the field of 68, and only eventual CollegeInsider.com Tournament champion Saint Peter’s joined them in the postseason. Texas Tech finished 18-14, but didn’t earn an NIT appearance.
How Strong Is This Event?
Based on the average four-year rankings of the participants, the 2017 Hall of Fame Tip-Off ranks as follows when compared to other bracketed tournaments:
- Hosts’ Bracket: 6th of 24 four-team bracketed tournaments; 13th of 38 bracketed tournaments
- Visitors’ Bracket: 20th of 24 four-team bracketed tournaments; 34th of 38 bracketed tournaments
Have Any Of These Teams Played In This Event Before?
Surprisingly, none of these eight teams have participated in one of the six previous editions of the Tip Off.
What About Other Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall Of Fame Events?
La Salle traveled to South Florida where the Explorers lost to the Georgetown Hoyas in last season’s HoopHall Miami event, but that was a non-exempt doubleheader. Boston College traveled to Uncasville for last December’s Birthday of Basketball doubleheader—and it wasn’t a successful trip, as the Fairfield Stags took down the Eagles.
Are There Any Notable Recent Meetings Between These Teams?
In happier times, Boston College actually made NCAA Tournaments. In 2007, the Eagles knocked Texas Tech out of one, by an 84-75 count, in a First Round game played in Winston-Salem. They also made the NIT on occasion, though Northwestern knocked a top-seeded BC squad out of the 2011 edition in the second round.
Among the visitors, Maine actually traveled to South Alabama in November of 2008—and lost by 12.
In terms of the on-campus matchups, Maine has traveled to Chestnut Hill four times since 2008, winning once—a 52-51 decision on January 2, 2010. Things aren’t so rosy for Sacred Heart, which is 0-6 in games played at the Conte Forum since 2006. La Salle defeated Saint Peter’s in their last meeting back in November 2014, and Northwestern blasted Sacred Heart by 36 in a December 2015 matchup in Evanston.
Who Won 2016’s Edition?
The Duke Blue Devils routed the Marist Red Foxes and Grand Canyon Antelopes on consecutive days to open the 2016-17 season, then took down the Penn State Nittany Lions and Rhode Island Rams by 10-points each in Uncasville to claim the Naismith title. The Antelopes recovered from a pair of campus-round losses to defeat the Albany Great Danes and aforementioned Red Foxes to win the Springfield crown.
Did Any 2016 Teams Reach The Postseason?
Three of the four Naismith Bracket squads—Duke, Rhode Island, and the Cincinnati Bearcats—qualified for the NCAAs with all three losing within hours of each other on Second Round Sunday. Springfield Bracket champ Grand Canyon was ineligible for the NCAAs due to the final year of its Division I transition and the ‘Lopes declined a trip to the CollegeInsider.com Tournament their 22-9 trip would have secured. Albany claimed a bid to that event, becoming the lone Springfield Bracket postseason participant, and the Great Danes ended up being the first victim of Saint Peter’s on its title run.
Will This Event Be On TV?
Of the eight games in Connecticut, six will end up on ESPN3—all four games on Saturday, thanks to football, and the Springfield Bracket’s finals on Sunday. Those contests will bookend the Naismith Bracket’s two games that afternoon which will appear on ESPN2. The championship tilt in Uncasville will serve as the first tip of a three-game tournament finale tripleheader.
As usual, the home team’s media contracts determine who airs or streams the on-campus games. Already, Northwestern’s two games are set for BTN’s To Go product, which requires a subscription, while you can bet Boston College’s end up on ACC Network Extra’s ESPN3 stream. Who knows, maybe the A 10 will put La Salle’s games up on Facebook Live to be trendy.
Who’s Your Pick To Win It?
Northwestern, primed to make a repeat NCAA appearance, draws arguably a trickier semifinal opponent in Atlantic 10 sleeper La Salle than Texas Tech does in BC, even if the Eagles should be improved over last season’s squad that went 2-16 in the ACC.
Championship: Northwestern over Texas Tech
Consolation: La Salle over Boston College
In the Springfield Bracket, Saint Peter’s should take the crown even with the bulk of last season’s hardware-winning squad gone. That’s because Maine (337th in KenPom) and Sacred Heart (301st) were among Division I’s worst 50 teams and South Alabama (243rd) was only marginally better.
Championship: Saint Peter’s over South Alabama
Consolation: Sacred Heart over Maine