By Kevin Sweeney
While much of today’s college basketball discussion will be in regards to the release of the brackets for the PK80 Invitational (exempt event honoring Nike founder Phil Knight), there was also another tournament field reported today. The Islands of the Bahamas Showcase will feature 8 mid-majors in a tournament on November 17-19, per @TheD1Docket on Twitter. Today, Josh Thomson of Lohud.com reported the field for this event. Bradley, Coastal Carolina, Duquesne, Iona, Northern Kentucky, UTSA, Vermont, and Weber State will be the participants, per Thomson.
UPDATE: Duquesne released its non-conference schedule today and will not be participating in the event. It’s unclear who will replace them in the event, as the field has not been officially announced. Weber State officially announced it would be participating in the event in its non-conference schedule release.
UPDATE #2: James Madison will be the 8th participant the event, per Vermont’s non-conference schedule release.
The event is a win-win for all participants. As scheduling at the mid-major level is more difficult than ever before, it has become important for good mid-majors to schedule other good mid-majors. These types of games boost the RPI and other advanced metrics for these programs, while also providing experience playing against teams of similar caliber to the teams you will face in your conference tournament later that season.
Let’s take a look at the field of this event:
- Bradley is likely to be in the upper tier of the Missouri Valley this season, as they bring back all 5 starters from last season’s squad.
- Coastal Carolina should contend for a Sun Belt title, as they bring in a pair of talented grad transfers in Chas Brown (Coppin St), and Donte Clark (UMass) to compliment a talented returning core.
- James Madison is coming off a rebuilding campaign but brings in some solid young talent, as well as Toledo transfer Stuckey Mosley. They should be in the middle of the pack in the CAA this season.
- Iona has been one of the most consistent mid-majors in college basketball and will enter the season as the favorite in the MAAC.
- Northern Kentucky is coming off the best season in program history and will likely be picked either 1st or 2nd in the Horizon League this season.
- UTSA loses its top 2 scorers from last season, but brings back a pair of promising freshmen in Giovanni De Nicolao and Byron Frohnen.
- Vermont brings back the vast majority of its production from last season, when they went undefeated in the America East and took Purdue to the wire in the NCAA Tournament.
- Weber State is consistently one of the top teams in the Big Sky, and that trend should continue into 2017-18.
The bracket for the event has been released on the tournament’s Twitter page. The first round matchups include Vermont vs Bradley, Iona vs Weber State, Coastal Carolina vs UTSA, and Northern Kentucky vs James Madison.
This will be one of the early-season tournaments I will be most excited for. The battle of some of these top mid-majors will be fascinating to watch unfold come mid-November. Hopefully we will see more of these style events for mid-majors in the future, rather than mid-majors participating in the larger tournaments in the form of a “buy game”. I’ll be sure to release more information about this event when I receive it.