By RENALDO DORSETT
THE NCAA basketball season kicked off last weekend and the Bahamas will look to make its mark on the early tournament scene as the Battle 4 Atlantis will feature four teams ranked in the latest edition of the AP top 25 poll.
Battle 4 Atlantis 2012, scheduled for November 22-24, is expected to feature another outstanding field, setting the stage for the Louisville Cardinals to headline the eight-team group, which also includes the Duke Blue Devils, Memphis Tigers, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Missouri Tigers, Northern Iowa Panthers, Stanford University Cardinal and Virginia Commonwealth Rams.
The Cardinals begin the season ranked second, Duke is ranked eighth, Missouri is ranked No. 15, while Memphis rounds out the field at No. 17.
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 their 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.
The VCU Rams rose to prominence in the 2010-11 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 also bring their teams to Paradise Island.
Rick Pitino’s Louisville Cardinals reached the Final Four last season, defeated by eventual national champion Kentucky.
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 the Battle 4 Atlantis.
The event, which resulted in Harvard University claiming the inaugural title, will award more than $2 million to participating teams annually.
The event will be televised live from the 3,900-seat arena at the famed Atlantis resort on Paradise Island on AXS TV and NBC Sports Network.
The eight teams in the 2012 Battle 4 Atlantis field combined have more than 160 NCAA post-season appearances.
The Battle 4 Atlantis first game brackets beginning on November 22 are as follows:
Game 1: Missouri vs. Stanford (live at 1pm ET on AXS TV)
Game 2: Duke vs. Minnesota (live at 3:30pm ET on AXS TV)
Game 3: Memphis vs. VCU (live at 7pm ET on NBC Sports)
Game 4: Louisville vs. Northern Iowa (live at 9:30pm ET on NBC Sports)