By RENALDO DORSETT
THE 2013 Battle 4 Atlantis tournament field has finally rounded out with the announcement of the eighth team to compete in the Thanksgiving weekend tournament.
According to the Associated Press, the University of Iowa Hawkeyes (Big 10) announced last Thursday that they have pulled out of the Great Alaska Shootout and will instead play in the B4A tournament in the Atlantis resort, Paradise Island, November 28-30.
Based on the early success of the B4A over the past three years, the tournament has become the upstart of the college basketball world, established a reputation as a top early season tournament on the NCAA calendar and has confirmed another stacked field for the 2013 edition.
The 2013 B4A will be headlined by perennial powerhouse Kansas Jayhawks, representing the Big 12. They ended the 2012 season ranked fourth in the AP poll.
The Jayhawks will lose freshman guard Ben McLemore to the NBA Draft and will have to replace their entire starting lineup but head coach Bill Self will welcome the second ranked recruiting class in the nation, making the early season B4A a true early season neutral court test.
The Jayhawks class includes McDonalds All-American and five star recruit Wayne Selden, Joel Embiid (four stars), Brannen Greene, Conner Frankamp (four stars) and Frank Mason (three stars).
Self’s tenure at Kansas includes the 2008 NCAA National Championship and a host of accolades, including Self was named 2012 Naismith College Coach of the Year, Sporting News National Coach of the Year in 2000, 2009 and 2012, the Associated Press National Coach of the Year in 2009, the Big 12 Coach of the Year in 2006, 2009, 2011, and 2012.
Other teams in the field include Villanova (Big East), Wake Forest (ACC), Tennessee (SEC), Southern California (PAC-12), Texas El-Paso (Conference USA) and Xavier (A-10).
The strong field at the B4A will be a boost to Iowa’s nonconference schedule, in an effort to amend something the NCAA tournament’s selection committee criticised the Hawkeyes heavily for last season.
Added to the Hawkeyes schedule this year will be the Iowa State Cyclones, an ACC opponent to be named later and now the B4A.
The 36th Great Alaska Shootout field includes a number of mid-major programmes - Indiana State, Pepperdine, Tulsa, and Denver.
It also includes former B4A champion Harvard, Texas Christian and Alaska Anchorage, the only Division II team in the field.
The B4A has drawn comparisons to the Maui invitational - staged in Maui, Hawaii - for its location and ability to host a high quality field early in the NCAA season.
The 2012 Maui Invitational featured one ranked team in the AP top 25, No. 9 North Carolina.
Meanwhile, the B4A featured arguably the most stacked early season NCAA field ever with four ranked teams Louisville (2), Duke (5), Missouri (13) and Memphis (19), plus unbeaten Minnesota, which was ranked 26th.
Following his team’s 76-71 championship win over Louisville, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski heralded the organisers’ ability to put together another quality field.
“The tournament field ranks as tough as anything we’ve been a part of NIT, Maui or others and this tournament can get even better as they learn how to put it on even better.”
In year one, the B4A featured what organisers called a “dress rehearsal” to evaluate Atlantis’ ability to host an NCAA tournament.
Georgia Tech, Richmond, Mississippi State and Virginia Tech took part in the event.
In 2011, it transitioned to a full eight-team tournament. Harvard won the inaugural title.