BATTLE 4 ATLANTIS CHANGING THANKSGIVING SPORTS TRADITION –Kenny Rice
We gathered, ate turkey, watched football, took a nap, ate more turkey and watched more football. Oh and took another nap.
That was basically Thanksgiving, a lot of food and a lot of football. Even when it didn’t matter, when the Lions were already way beyond any playoff hope, we watched football and ate turkey.
Sometime during our annual tryptophan coma there was an awakening, a little fuzzy a first but it was there; amidst the touchdowns and sacks, slam dunks and three pointers are now a fixture on the screen. It isn’t as if college basketball is knocking the stuffing out of the NFL and college football, but it has become a mainstay on the Thanksgiving sports palate a cranberry side dish that is a must to compliment the entire course.
The best of these early season hoop gatherings begins on Turkey Day in Nassau with the second annual Battle 4 Atlantis. Missouri vs. Stanford, Duke vs. Minnesota, Memphis vs. VCU and Louisville vs. Northern Iowa. It is a true college round ball feast guaranteed to fill the most ardent follower of the sport over a three day period culminating on Saturday with the championship.
Every team in the field except Northern Iowa is a consensus projection to be in the NCAA Tournament come March and NIU is a lock pick for post season, probably the NIT. In Louisville a return to the Final Four is almost a cinch according to the experts. Duke and Missouri are at the least Sweet 16 candidates, Minnesota might have their best team in years, Memphis is a perennial threat for a run and now of course VCU is well-known and Stanford is poised for its best shot since the Lopez brothers exited.
Mike Krzysewski is a living legend and along with Rick Pitino and Tubby Smith are coaches who have already won national titles. In Missouri’s Phil Pressey and Peyton Siva of Lousville two of the premier floor leaders will showcase their talents. Duke’s Seth Curry is as good of an outside shooter as anyone and Adonis Thomas of Memphis is always a step away from a drive to score, Chane Behanan of Louisville and Trevor Mbakwe of Minnesota combine power and finesse to the front court while Mason Plumlee of Duke is one of the best post men in the nation, and returning to school instead of going to the NBA.
That in only two years to put together arguably as good a holiday lineup as any tourney ever is a testament to the commitment the Atlantis Resort has made. It’s a no lose situation with the fan base following these teams. And as opposed to the powerful tourneys in Hawaii, this is a tropical setting to match that and is an easier flight with no time zone change for teams in the East. All enticing qualities.
With billions of dollars wagered legally on college hoops, and who knows the local bookie takes, this is a sport that is now twelve months a year for the serious fan. The transfers and recruits, the coaching moves and conference strengths are not just a simple peruse of the basketball annuals. The remote control makes it a given to switch from a football blowout to see which of this star-studded lineup is looking like the one to watch the rest of the season.
In the inaugural event upsets to Connecticut and Florida State drew immediate attention to the tourney won by Harvard, a story in itself. This is brings together four top 16 teams in Louisville, Duke, Missouri and Memphis and at least a half dozen potential first round draft picks. Pitino, no stranger to the big stage events, likens it to the glory days of the Maui tournaments that routinely brought together fields that were comparable.
To do this is such a fast break, slam dunk fashion for Atlantis is a true prize for hoop fans and a welcomed addition to the Thanksgiving menu.
The tourney begins 1 PM ET on AXSTV Thanksgiving Day.
Tweet with us during the games using the #Battle4Atlantis hashtag on twitter
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