You might just get a taunting postcard this week from your basketball loving friend, reminding you that you’re shivering in the Polar Vortex. That friend is not only sitting poolside under palm trees, but watching the best holiday basketball tournament around, the Battle 4 Atlantis. Or in this day, it’s more likely it will be a Facebook or Instagram picture, just to let you know their life is a shade better. Better than being stuck in the cloudy, rainy, “oh not the all the relatives again” Thanksgiving you are enduring.
Atlantis is that wonderfully delightful mix of old and new. From the palace of a casino resort structure, to the untouched, lush green brush stretching down to the sandy beach; this is the home to a fourth year basketball tournament. A tournament that has interesting traditional powers with upstarts, with both predictable and surprising effect.
In the inaugural tournament, Harvard stunned by taking home the trophy, while ranked Connecticut and Florida State fell by the wayside and that year the Crimson proved their merit with an NCAA bid. In 2012, true to form, Duke and Louisville met in the title game won by the Blue Devils while the Cardinals would go on to win the national championship. Last year it wasn’t Kansas but Villanova winning it all, and establishing the Wildcats as Big East threats despite not being listed as a preseason favorite. The Atlantis triumph vaulted them into the top 10.
Two Teams coming off Final Four appearances, 3rd ranked Wisconsin and 16th rated Florida, will be in action as AXS TV begins our fourth season of televising the event. The Badgers of Bo Ryan have two Player of the Year candidates, Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker. They enter as the tourney favorite playing UAB to begin the Wednesday evening session at 7 ET.
For Billy Donovan’s Gators four starters are gone from last year and they come to Nassau with two key players, Dorian Finney-Smith and Eli Carter, listed as game-by-game due to injuries. All that intrigue, as they take on the Georgetown Hoyas, who might be the second best team with coach John Thompson III as well as a following hoping to find out more on the a Island.
North Carolina is in the opposite bracket, picked by many to reach the finals. Roy Williams’ Tar Heels take on Butler and in what appears to be the most evenly matched game, UCLA meets Oklahoma.
So for those who might have fan envy sitting home, they can remind their friends of money saved while spending time at home with family for Thanksgiving. Maybe put a few plastic Palm trees in the living room and wear flowered shirts. Send them that picture and kick back for a front row seat to a tourney that has always provided a snapshot of what lies ahead in the college season.
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