NICEVILLE, FLA. — Nationally ranked Tennessee and Florida State, along with perennial NCAA Tournament participants Purdue and VCU, headline the field for the sixth annual Emerald Coast Classic, presented by Global Sports.
The eight-team tournament will be played Thanksgiving weekend Nov. 29-30 at The Arena on the campus of Northwest Florida State College. The remainder of the field will be disclosed in the near future.
“This will be the best field we’ve ever assembled for the Emerald Coast Classic and it shapes up as one of the strongest preseason college basketball tournaments next season,” said tournament director Maury Hanks, chief executive officer of Global Sports. “We continue to strive in bringing the best college basketball teams possible to the Emerald Coast of Florida.”
Tennessee, which stands 13-1 following an 87-63 victory at Missouri Tuesday, is ranked No. 3 in both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches poll, while riding a nine-game winning streak.
The Volunteers, led by fourth-year coach Rick Barnes, are the reigning Southeastern Conference regular season co-champs and advanced to the round of 32 in the 2018 NCAA Tournament.
Florida State, which stands 12-2, is ranked No. 12 entering a Wednesday (Jan. 9) home game with Miami. Leonard Hamilton has guided the Seminoles to six trips to the NCAA Tournament during his tenure at the school.
Purdue, under the guidance of Matt Painter who is in his 14th year as head coach, owns a 9-6 record seeking a fifth straight trip to the NCAA Tournament. The Boilermakers have a storied tradition winning the most Big Ten Conference championships with 23 with the latest coming in 2017.
Purdue was seeded second in the East Region of the 2018 NCAA Tournament, their highest seed in recent history. The Boilermakers won a school record 30 games while advancing to the 2018 Sweet Sixteen.
VCU is 10-4 entering a Wednesday Atlantic 10 Conference home test with LaSalle. Mike Rhoades is in his second season as head coach with Rams.
VCU reached the NCAA tournament seven consecutive times from 2011–2017 with the Rams widely known for their run to the 2011 Final Four.
The participating coaches are excited to be playing in what promises to be one of the best preseason basketball tournaments for the 2019-20 campaign.
“We’re excited about the opportunity to bring the Big Orange to the Emerald Coast Classic,” Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes said. “Not only does it provide a great early-season test for our team, but it’s also a wonderful opportunity for our fans.
“Destin and the surrounding area is a popular destination for Vol fans, so I’d expect that there will be plenty of orange in the stands.”
“We jumped at the chance to play in the 2019 Emerald Coast Classic,” said Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton. “Not only is it a great field of teams which gives us some phenomenal early season games but the tournament is in a part of our state where we haven’t played before.
“The opportunity to play great competition and bring our team to more of our fans is a winning combination for our program. We are excited about playing in the Emerald Coast Classic in one of the most beautiful areas in the state of Florida.”
“We are excited to be part of the 2019 Emerald Coast Classic,” said Purdue coach Matt Painter. “The field for next year’s Classic is the strongest it has ever been and it will be a great experience for our fans and our program to compete with three other outstanding teams.”
Global Sports has produced 43 multi-team college basketball tournaments in the past 11 years.
Emerald Coast Classic History
2018 — Cincinnati, champion: Mississippi, runner-up
2017 — TCU, champion; St. Bonaventure, runner-up
2016 — Virginia, champion; Providence, runner-up
2015 — Iowa State, champion; Illinois, runner-up
2014 — Mississippi, champion; Cincinnati, runner-up