Emerald Coast Classic announces 2014 field

MT heads to the Sunshine State for November Tourney

April 17, 2014 · @MTAthletics

LAS VEGAS - The Middle Tennessee, Cincinnati, Creighton and Mississippi men's basketball teams headline an eight-team field in the inaugural 2014 Emerald Coast Classic, presented by Global Sports.

North Carolina Central, Eastern Illinois, Northern Arizona and Southern around out the eight-team November tournament as first and second round games will be played at campus sites Nov. 20-25. The third round and championship round are schedule for Thanksgiving weekend Nov. 28-29 at Northwest Florida State College in Niceville, Fla., near Destin, Fla.

The Emerald Coast Classic features three teams from the 2014 NCAA Tournament in Cincinnati, Creighton and North Carolina Central, while MT and Southern won their respective conference regular season titles. In the final AP poll of the 2013-14 season, the Bearcats and the Bluejays were ranked No. 15 and No. 16, respectively.

"We have assembled a great field in this inaugural year of the event and we hope to make this one of the top preseason college basketball events annually," said tournament director Maury Hanks, who is also chief executive officer for Global Sports.

Middle Tennessee earned a share of the Conference USA regular season champion with a 13-3 record, marking its third-straight regular season conference championship and fourth in the last five years. The Blue Raiders also enjoyed their third-straight 20-win season, posting a 24-9 record.

"The Emerald Coast Classic has a fantastic field and an unbelievable venue alongside the most beautiful beaches in America," said MT head coach Kermit Davis. "Everyone is college basketball will be trying to get their spot in this event in the upcoming years."

Mick Cronin was named both the American Athletic Conference Coach of the Year as well as the National Association of Basketball District 25 Coach of the Year after guiding Cincinnati to a 27-7 record, while earning a share of the inaugural American Athletic Conference regular season title. The Bearcats are one of only 16 teams to advance to the NCAA Tournament in each of the last four seasons.

"We are extremely excited about being in the Emerald Coast Classic next November," Cronin said. "We have been in a number of multi-team events with Global Sports in the past and I am sure that Maury (Hanks) and his staff will put together a tremendous event."

Creighton, led by consensus National Player of the Year Doug McDermott, enjoyed a 27-8 record, while becoming one of just four schools to earn a postseason win in seven-straight seasons. The Bluejays have won 23 games or more in each of the last four seasons.

North Carolina Central, coming off its first appearance ever in the NCAA Tournament, went 28-6 en route to capturing the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference championship with a 15-1 record.

Ole Miss, under the guidance of coach Andy Kennedy was 19-14 this past season, while finishing fifth in the Southeastern Conference.

The third round and championship finals will be played at The Arena on the campus of Northwest Florida State College in Niceville, Fla. Travel packages for Blue Raider fans will be announced at a later date.

Global Sports has produced 25 multi-team college basketball tournaments in the past seven years with four more coming during the 2014-15 season.

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