NICEVILLE, FLA. — Tickets go on sale at 12 p.m. Eastern time on Tuesday, Sept. 15 for the Emerald Coast Classic basketball tournament Thanksgiving weekend Nov. 27-28, which is headlined by top teams from across the country including Illinois, Iowa State, Virginia Tech and UAB.
Fans can purchase tickets by calling 850-729-5379 between 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Central Standard Time Monday through Friday or by going to the official tournament site www.emeraldcoastclassic.com.
Iowa State and UAB played in the 2015 NCAA Tournament, while Illinois competed in the 2015 NIT.
“We’re pleased to have participating teams from three of the top college basketball conferences in the country — the ACC, the Big Ten and the Big 12,” said tournament director Maury Hanks, who is also the chief executive officer for Global Sports.
Ole Miss defeated Cincinnati, 66-54, to capture the inaugural Emerald Coast Classic in 2014 and went on to play in the 2015 NCAA Tournament.
“We expect the local enthusiasm and support for this tournament to continue to grow after last year’s success,” Hanks added.
“The participating teams are really going to be surprised by the support from fans in the area,so we encourage fans from the competing schools to purchase their tickets in advance.”
The semifinal round games on Nov. 27 feature Virginia Tech vs. Iowa State at 7 p.m. Eastern time followed by UAB against Illinois at 9:30 p.m. Eastern time. Both games will be televised live on CBS Sports Network, the 24-hour cable home of CBS Sports.
The championship game Nov. 28 will tip off at 7 p.m. Eastern time at The Arena on the campus of Northwest Florida State College and also will be televised live on CBS Sports Network.
“Basketball fans in the Florida panhandle are really excited about this tournament,” said Northwest Florida State athletic director Ramsey Ross. “We have a great venue. There is a lot of local interest by fans in getting tickets.”
Alabama State, Chattanooga, Chicago State and Jacksonville State round out the eight-team field competing in the Emerald Coast Classic, presented by Global Sports.
First and second-round games will be played at on-campus sites Nov. 14 through Nov. 23.
First-year coach Steve Prohm inherits an Iowa State program that has four starters back from last year’s team which posted a 25-9 record en route to winning the 2015 Big 12 Conference Tournament for the second straight year. Senior forward Georges Niang, who earned third team All-American honors, leads the Cyclones who were ranked No. 9 in the final 2015 Associated Press poll. Junior point guard Monte Morris, a second-team All-Big 12 choice, led the NCAA for the second straight season in assist-to-turnover ratio (4.6).
UAB, under fourth-year coach Jerod Haase, has all five starters back from last year’s team which went 20-16 while capturing the Conference USA Tournament and upsetting No. 3 seed Iowa State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Senior guard Robert Brown, the MVP of the Conference USA Tournament, heads the returning cast of veterans.
Illinois, which has participated in post-season play 14 times in the last 16 seasons, has three starters returning for third-year head coach John Groce, from its 2014-15 team that went 19-14. Junior guard Malcom Hill, an honorable mention all-Big Ten choice in 2014-15, returns for his third year as a starter after averaging 14.4 points for the Fighting Illini.
Virginia Tech welcomes a top 20 recruiting class to go along with four returning starters as it enters Buzz Williams’ second season as head coach. In addition, juniors Seth Allen and Zach LeDay join the Hokies after sitting out last season. Rising sophomore Justin Bibbs won a gold medal this summer with the USA Under 19 team that won the FIBA World Championship.