By RENALDO DORSETT
THE newest addition to the NCAA early season tournament scene, the Battle 4 Atlantis will look to continue its momentum and build on its brand with another tournament played at a high level, featuring some of the best teams in America.
Battle 4 Atlantis 2012 will feature another outstanding field, setting the stage for The Duke Blue Devils to headline the 8-team group, which also includes the Louisville Cardinal, Memphis Tigers, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Missouri Tigers, Northern Iowa Panthers, Stanford University Cardinal and Virginia Commonwealth Rams.
HDNet and NBC Sports will carry the 12-game tournament. The eight teams have combined for more than 160 NCAA postseason appearances.
The Blue Devils are one of the NCAA's perennial powerhouses and are led by legendary Hall of Fame head coach Mike Krzyzewski.
"Coach K" has led the Blue Devils to four of its five national championships and this season, surpassed his mentor Bob Knight as the winningest coach in NCAA Division I history. In addition to four NCAA Championships, he has led the Blue Devils to 11 Final Fours, 12 ACC regular season titles, and 13 ACC Tournament titles."
Four star and fifth ranked shooting guard in the country, Rasheed Sulaimon has already signed a letter of intent to join the Blue Devils next fall.
The VCU Rams rose to prominence in last NCAA Tournament with a captivating run to the Final Four.
Led by head coach Shaka Smart, the Rams received an at-large bid and defeated USC, Georgetown, Purdue, Florida State and top seeded Kansas en route to the Final Four. They finished sixth in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll at the end of the season.
Two former University of Kentucky Championship winning coaches will bring their teams to Paradise Island.
Rick Pitino's Louisville Cardinal drew a four seed in the 2011 NCAA Tournament and are currently ranked sixth in both the AP and ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll.
His successor at Kentucky, Tubby Smith, has led the resurgence of the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the Big 10 and will continue that trend at next year's Battle 4 Atlantis.
The event, which resulted in Harvard University claiming the inaugural title, will award more than $2 million to participating teams annually.
"To see our vision come to life this weekend at Battle 4 Atlantis with all the excitement and energy was truly remarkable," says George Markantonis, president and managing director of Kerzner International Bahamas.
"To have secured such a talented field of players for our inaugural tournament has succeeded in making this destination the pre-eminent college basketball tournament for years to come."