NICEVILLE, FLA. — Tickets for the third annual Emerald Coast Classic college basketball tournament will go on sale at 10 am Central time this Monday (Sept. 19).
The tournament will be played Thanksgiving weekend Nov. 25-26 at The Arena on the campus of Northwest Florida State College. Fans can purchase tickets at the official tournament website, www.emeraldcoastclassic.com
The eight-team tournament is headlined by top teams from across the country, including Iowa, Providence, Virginia and Memphis. Iowa, Providence and Virginia all played in the 2016 NCAA Tournament.
“We’re pleased to have teams from four of the top college basketball conferences in the country” said tournament director Maury Hanks, who is also the chief executive officer for Global Sports.
Iowa State defeated Illinois, 84-73, to capture the 2015 Emerald Coast Classic and went on to play in the 2016 NCAA Tournament. Ole Miss topped Cincinnati to win the inaugural tournament title in 2014.
The semifinal round games on Nov. 25 feature Virginia against Iowa at 6 p.m. Central time followed by Providence playing Memphis at 8:30 p.m. Central time.
The championship game Nov. 26 will tip off at 6 p.m. Central time at The Arena.
“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.”
Grambling, the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Savannah State and St. Francis Brooklyn also are competing in the tournament, presented by Global Sports.
First and second-round games will be played at on-campus sites Nov. 13 through Nov. 22.
For the second consecutive year CBS Sports Network will televise the semifinal round and championship game of Emerald Coast Classic basketball tournament.
Virginia was ranked No. 5 in both the final 2015-16 Associated Press and USA Today Sports Men’s Basketball Coaches polls. Virginia returns three starter’s from last year’s team which posted a 29-8 record, while advancing to the NCAA Elite Eight for the first time since 1985.
During Tony Bennett’s tenure as head coach Virginia has won 29 or more games in each of the last three season including a school-record tying 30 in 2014 and 2015. The Cavaliers captured back-to-back outright Atlantic Coast Conference regular season titles in 2014 and 205 , won the the 2014 ACC Tournament championship and earned a no. 2 ranking in the associated Press poll, marking the school’s highest ranking since 1982-83. Virginia earned No. 1 seeds for the NCAA Tournament in 2014 and 206 and was a No. 2 seed in 2015.
The Cavaliers are ranked No. 8 in the USA Today Sports Men’s Basketball Coaches 2016-17 preseason poll.
Iowa recorded a 22-11 mark tying for third place in the Big 10 Conference while advancing to the NCAA Round of 32 this past season.The Hawkeyes return eight players, including Peter Jok, the second-leading scorer from a year ago (16.1 ppg).
Providence owned a 24-11 mark last year, including a 10-8 record in BIG EAST play, while earning its third consecutive NCAA Tournament bid. The Friars defeated Southern California (70-69) before losing to No. 1 seed North Carolina. The Friars received 33 votes to finish No. 30 in the final USA Today Sports Men’s Basketball Coaches polls
Memphis returns two starters from last year’s squad which constructed a 19-15 record. Sophomore swingman Dedric Lawson is the team’s top returning scorer (15.8 ppt) and rebounder (9.3 rig).
Legendary coach Tubby Smith, who guided the University of Kentucky to the 1998 NCAA title, was named the 18th head coach in the storied history of the University of Memphis basketball program April 14. He is just one of two coaches to lead five different schools to the NCAA tournament and in 2016 he earned the John R. Wooden Legends of Coaching Award.