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2017 Hall Of Fame Classic Primer

Four 2017 NCAA qualifiers are headed to Kansas City for the early part of Thanksgiving week.

NCAA Basketball: CBE Hall of Fame Classic-Georgia vs George Washington Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

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

What Is It?

The Hall Of Fame Classic

Formerly known as the CBE Hall of Fame Classic, this tournament is affiliated with the College Basketball Hall of Fame in Kansas City, not the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts.

How Long Has This Event Been Around?

From the 2015 Primer...

The CBE Hall of Fame Classic has gone through name, arena (though constantly in Kansas City), and even management changes since its first edition in 2001. Back then, Missouri claimed the first edition of what was then known as the Guardians Classic, defeating Iowa in a thrilling 78-77 final. The National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC), the tournament's sponsor came up with its original title to honor its membership, the guardians of the game.

Over its first few seasons, the Guardians Classic format generally matched that of the NIT Season Tip-Off, with regional winners advancing to semifinals and a final in Kansas City. There were slight tweaks to this based on the number of participants. In 2002, only eight teams entered, so regional final losers Furman and IUPUI joined Creighton and Notre Dame in the semifinals, with each mid-major taking on the power conference team it didn't visit during the Kansas City round. In 2003 and 2004, there were only three regionals, so one runner-up ended up joining the hosts at Municipal Auditorium.

The 2006 tournament, the first under the "CBE Classic" name was the penultimate edition with non-guaranteed places in Kansas City. That ended in part because of Air Force's win in the Stanford regional on the way to a third-place finish that saw the Falcons fall to Duke (who lost to Marquette in the final) and defeat Texas Tech. Those results helped keep Air Force on the bubble for most of that season, before they ended up in the NIT semifinals.

The Falcons' success and Gardner-Webb's win at Kentucky in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic in 2007 led to the end of non-host schools' chances of advancing to main tournament sites in events not named the NIT Season Tip-Off.

Since 2008, the four host schools have been guaranteed a place in Kansas City. Each welcomes two mid-majors to their buildings before those visiting schools meet at a pre-determined site for a "subregional." In most editions, eight visitors were involved, with each playing a single host school before being separated into a pair of four-team round-robin subregionals.


The first edition of this event was played at Kemper Arena, while venerable Memorial Auditorium was home for the 2002 through 2006 editions. The Sprint Center, which includes the College Basketball Experience Hall of Fame facility, became the event's new host upon its opening in 2007.

Gazelle Group ran this event on behalf of the NABC from its inception up until the 2012 tournament, when Blue Ridge Sports and Entertainment took over.

When And Where Is It?

The four host teams will gather at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri for semifinals on Monday, November 20th and finals on Tuesday, November 21st. Each host will welcome two visitors before heading to K.C.

Each of the four visitors will play two further “subregional” games—one home, one on the road. Those are scheduled to take place between November 14th and 22nd.

Who's Playing?

The eight CBE Hall Of Fame Classic participants, with semifinal matchups.
Graphic by Chris Dobbertean. Logos via

At the moment, only the NIT Season Tip-Off’s semifinal lineup can also offer up a quartet of 2017 NCAA Tournament teams and serve as a rival for this one.

Here’s how the road games for the four visiting schools break down. The two host schools that drew Yale will want to send the organizers a gift basket for the RPI boost.

Did Any Of These Teams Reach The 2017 Postseason?

All four host teams reached the NCAAs, and all but Creighton (a First Round loser to the Rhode Island Rams) reached the Sweet Sixteen. None of the visitors qualified, but Yale and Alcorn State both saw their seasons end in their conference title games.

How Strong Is This Event?

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

  • Hosts’ Bracket: 1st of 24 four-team bracketed tournaments; 1st of 38 bracketed tournaments
  • Visitors’ Subregional: 7th of 9 events with set matchups

Have Any Of These Teams Played In This Event Before?

UCLA swept past the Maryland Terrapins and Michigan State Spartans to win the (then-Gazelle Group-run) 2007 CBE Classic.

What About Other NABC/Blue Ridge Sports & Entertainment Events?

Yale went 1-3 as a visiting team in the 2012 edition of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, one of two editions held under Blue Ridge management.

Are There Any Other Notable Recent Meetings Between These Teams?

Baylor played Creighton and Wisconsin consecutively in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. The Bears blew Creighton in Round of 32—a 30-point drubbing in Doug McDermott’s final game in a Bluejays uniform—before bowing out to the eventual West Regional champion Badgers one round later.

The Jays have twice defeated Wisconsin in recent early season events—79-67 in one of last season’s Gavitt Tip-Off Games in Omaha and by an 84-74 score in a Las Vegas Invitational semifinal in 2012.

In terms of on-campus games, Creighton smashed Alcorn State by 46 in November 2013. Surprisingly, even though Baylor regularly schedules both Southland and SWAC teams, the Bears have not played either Alcorn State or UCA over the past 10 seasons.

Who Won 2016’s Edition?

The Kansas Jayhawks took advantage of the two semi-home games this event provides them every four seasons, taking down the UAB Blazers and Georgia Bulldogs to claim the 2016 CBE title.

Did Any 2016 Teams Reach The Postseason?

On the other hand, the Jayhawks could only win one of the two semi-home games they received in last season’s Midwest Regional, as the Oregon Ducks stunned them in the Regional Final. CBE finalist Georgia lost its first NIT game to the Belmont Bruins. The George Washington Colonials, who went 0-2 in Kansas City, lost to the UIC Flames in the CBI’s second round. The UNC Asheville Bulldogs and Furman Paladins, the only visiting teams to reach the postseason, participated in the Postseason Tournament. UNCA couldn’t get past the UT Martin Skyhawks in round one, while the Paladins fell to the eventual champs, the Saint Peter’s Peacocks, in the semifinals.

Will This Event Be On TV?

ESPN will air or stream all four games from Kansas City, with one semifinal and the championship game slated for ESPN2. ESPNU will air the first semifinal, with ESPN3 streaming the consolation game.

So far, all of the host school’s home games have been picked up by their league’s respective media partners, but only Yale’s game at Wisconsin on BTN and Creighton’s home contest with Alcorn State (FS1) are on outlets with true national reach.

Who’s Your Pick To Win It?

Even though all of four K.C.-bound teams reached last season’s NCAA field, there’s some rebuilding going on here. Plus, UCLA has three players facing criminal charges in China at the moment. Those two factors make any prediction a bit dicey.


Creighton over UCLA
Baylor over Wisconsin


Baylor over Creighton
(consolation) Wisconsin over UCLA

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