Top Teams Announced for 2016 ESPN Events Early-Season Men’s Basketball Tournaments

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Top Teams Announced for 2016 ESPN Events Early-Season Men’s Basketball Tournaments

10 of Top 14 Teams Ranked in Latest Associated Press Poll to Participate in Early-Season ESPN Owned-and-Operated Events

ESPN Events, a division of ESPN, owns and operates early-season basketball events worldwide beginning in November and running through the Christmas holiday.

The Charlotte, N.C., based group manages six multi-team events consisting of the Gildan Charleston Classic, Puerto Rico Tip-Off, DIRECTV Wooden Legacy, AdvoCare Invitational, NIT Season Tip-Off and Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic.  The multi-day, destination events staged from Charleston, S.C., San Juan, Puerto Rico, Orange County, Calif., Orlando and Honolulu are all bracket-format tournaments featuring 12 games over three days. The teams compete once per day, advancing with a victory. The two remaining undefeated teams will face off in a championship game. The Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic will be announced in late December surrounding the event.

In its second year under the ESPN Events umbrella, the NIT Season Tip-Off will be held at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. The designated home teams will each host two campus-site teams prior to traveling to Brooklyn for the championship round.

In addition to the multi-team tournaments, ESPN Events also manages four premium events including the Armed Forces Classic, State Farm Champions Classic and Jimmy V Men’s and Women’s Classics presented by Corona. The Jimmy V Men’s and Women’s Classics fields will be announced at a later date.

The 2015-16 college basketball season is underway and several teams ranked in the latest Associated Press poll (Nov. 16) will be participating in 2016 events: No. 2 Kentucky, No. 4 Kansas, No. 5 Duke, No. 7 Iowa State, No. 8 Oklahoma, No. 10 Gonzaga, No. 11 Villanova, No. 12 Arizona, No. 13 Michigan State and No. 14 Indiana.

Multi-Team Events
Gildan Charleston Classic – Nov. 17, 18 & 20
The Gildan Charleston Classic, held at TD Arena in Charleston, S.C., will include Boise State, College of Charleston, UCF, Mississippi State, UTEP, Villanova, Wake Forest and Western Michigan.

  • Villanova is ranked No. 11 in the Associated Press poll (Nov. 16).
  • A No. 1 seed in the NCAA Championship, Villanova played into the third round.
  • Boise State earned a NCAA Championship berth as a No. 11 seed.
  • UTEP participated in the NIT, while Western Michigan played in the Postseason Tournament.
  • Additional information, including travel packages, can be found on the Gildan Charleston Classic website.

Puerto Rico Tip-Off – Nov. 17, 18 & 20
The Puerto Rico Tip-Off, held in San Juan, will showcase Arizona State, Clemson, Davidson, Missouri, Northern Iowa, Oklahoma, Tulane and Xavier.

  • Oklahoma is ranked No. 8 in the Associated Press poll (Nov. 16), while Xavier is receiving votes.
  • Four teams advanced to the NCAA Championship, including Sweet 16 participants No. 3 seed Oklahoma and No. 6 seed Xavier. Northern Iowa, as a five seed, advanced to the third round, while No. 10 seed Davidson was a second-round participant.
  • Arizona State earned a NIT postseason berth.
  • Additional information, including travel packages, can be found on the Puerto Rico Tip-Off website.

DIRECTV Wooden Legacy – Nov. 24, 25 & 27
The DIRECTV Wooden Legacy will be played in Orange County, Calif. The first two days will be held on the campus of Cal-State Fullerton and the final day of competition will be at Honda Center in Anaheim. The field consists of Cal State-Northridge, Dayton, Nebraska, New Mexico, Portland, Texas A&M, UCLA and Virginia Tech.

  • Texas A&M and Dayton are receiving votes in the Associated Press poll (Nov. 16).
  • Both 11 seeds, UCLA made a run into the Sweet 16, while Dayton played to the third round.
  • Texas A&M participated in the NIT, while Portland played in the Postseason Tournament.
  • Additional information, including travel packages, can be found on the DIRECTV Wooden Legacy website.

AdvoCare Invitational – Nov. 24, 25 & 27
The AdvoCare Invitational, held at HP Field House at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando, Fla., will feature Florida, Gonzaga, Indiana State, Iowa State, Miami (Fla.), Quinnipiac, Seton Hall and Stanford.

  • Iowa State stands at No. 7 in the Associated Press poll (Nov. 16), while Gonzaga is ranked No. 10 and Stanford is receiving votes.
  • A two seed, Gonzaga advanced to the to the Elite Eight, in addition to No. 3 seed Iowa State, which played into the second round.
  • 2015 NIT title game participants including winner Stanford and runner-up Miami.
  • Additional information, including travel packages, can be found on the AdvoCare Invitational website.

NIT Season Tip-Off – Thanksgiving Week
The NIT Season Tip-Off championship round will be held at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. and will feature Florida State, Illinois, Temple and West Virginia.

  • Florida State and West Virginia are receiving votes in the Associated Press poll (Nov. 16).
  • West Virginia, a No. 5 seed, advanced to the Sweet 16.
  • A top-seed in the postseason NIT, Temple made a semifinal appearance, while Illinois earned a berth.
  • Additional information, including travel packages, can be found on the NIT Season Tip-Of website.

Additional Events
Armed Forces Classic – Friday, Nov. 11
The Armed Forces Classic – a series of Division I men’s college basketball games played on United States military bases worldwide over a five-year rotation – will originate from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Honolulu in 2016. The doubleheader will pit Indiana vs. Kansas and Arizona vs. Michigan State.

  • Kansas is ranked No. 4 in the Associated Press poll (Nov. 16), while Arizona is No. 12, Michigan State is No. 13 and Indiana is No. 14.
  • The event – this year on Veteran’s Day – is just under a month from the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
  • Known for its rich basketball history, the four programs have combined to win 11 NCAA titles and advance to 34 Men’s Final Fours.
  • The games will be televised on ESPN as part of the network’s America’s Heroes initiative honoring the men and women who are serving and who have served in the United States military, both at home and abroad.
  • Additional information can be found on the Armed Forces Classic website.

State Farm Champions Classic – Tuesday, Nov. 15
The sixth installment of the State Farm Champions Classic will be played Madison Square Garden in New York City and will showcase Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and Michigan State.

  • Kentucky is ranked No. 2 in the Associated Press poll (Nov. 16), along with No. 4 Kansas, No. 5  Duke and No. 13 Michigan State.
  • Duke won the 2015 NCAA national title, while Kentucky and Michigan State were Final Four participants and Kansas advanced to the NCAA third round.
  • Additional information can be found on the Champions Classic website.

ESPN Events
ESPN Events, a division of ESPN, owns and operates a large portfolio of collegiate sporting events worldwide. The roster includes three Labor Day weekend college football games; 13 college bowl games, 10 college basketball events and two college award shows, which accounts for approximately 250-plus hours of programming, reaches almost 64 million viewers and attracts over 700,000 attendees each year. With satellite offices in Boca Raton, Boise, Birmingham, Dallas-Fort Worth, Albuquerque, St. Petersburg and Las Vegas, ESPN Events builds relationships with conferences, schools and local communities, as well as providing unique experiences for teams and fans.

ESPN Events also manages the Big 12 Corporate Partner Program.

Collegiate Football
AdvoCare Texas Kickoff (Houston); AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl (Houston); Birmingham Bowl (Alabama); Celebration Bowl (Atlanta); Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (Boise); Gildan New Mexico Bowl (Albuquerque); Hawai’i Bowl (Honolulu); Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl (Dallas-Fort Worth); Marmot Boca Raton Bowl (Florida); MEAC/SWAC Challenge presented by Disney (Orlando, Fla.); Orlando Kickoff (Florida); Popeyes Bahamas Bowl (Nassau); Raycom Media Camellia Bowl (Montgomery, Ala.); Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl (Nevada); St. Petersburg Bowl (Florida); The Home Depot College Football Awards (Atlanta) and Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl (Dallas-Fort Worth)

Collegiate Basketball
AdvoCare Invitational (Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Fla.); Armed Forces Classic (Camp Foster, Okinawa, Japan); DIRECTV Wooden Legacy (Orange County, Calif.); College Basketball Awards Presented by Wendy’s (Los Angeles); Gildan Charleston Classic (South Carolina); Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic (Honolulu); Jimmy V Men’s  Classic Presented by Corona (New York City); Jimmy V Women’s Classic Presented by Corona (Storrs, Conn.); NIT Season Tip-Off (Brooklyn, N.Y.); Puerto Rico Tip-Off (San Juan) and State Farm Champions Classic (Chicago)

For more information, visit the official website, Facebook, Twitter or YouTube pages.



Rachel Margolis Siegal

A part of the Internal Communications team at ESPN, I began with the network in 2010 as part of the College Sports PR team. Always an avid sports fan and not an athlete – I grew up a huge fan of the Hartford Whalers, while also watching my brother compete at different levels. I became the manager of several high school sports teams and continued that hobby into college. While at Quinnipiac, I worked in the Sports Information Department, which led me to a summer internship at the New Haven Ravens, a AA baseball team, and an eventual job with the Athletic Communications Department at the University of Connecticut. After my five-year stint at Connecticut, I spent six years as Director of Communications at the BIG EAST Conference in Providence, R.I. before joining ESPN.
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