The month of November is littered with in-season tournaments and sponsored events that allow the cable networks to broadcast some terrific early-season matchups that we may otherwise never get a chance to see.
The most unique out of that grouping began last year, as the inaugural Carrier Class featured a matchup between North Carolina and Michigan State on the USS Carl Vinson out in San Diego. While the game itself was a bit ugly — what can you expect from a game that a) involves Michigan State, b) is played outdoors and c) happens in early November — the scenery and the imagery was simply spectacular.
This season, the game will be played in Mt. Pleasant, SC, between Ohio State and Marquette, which way not provide quite as much as but should produce a product that is just as entertaining.
With that in mind, the Carrier Classic is planning on expanding their field in 2013, according to a report from Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv:
Kentucky, Texas, N.C. State and Missouri are expected to headline the expanded 2013 Carrier Classic, a source close to the event who was not authorized to speak publicly told SNY.tv Wednesday.
Florida State, Gonzaga, Wake Forest and Davidson would be the other four teams in the eight-team event, the source said.
“We’re going to expand the event and invite more teams so we can do more for the military,” Michael Watkins, Tournament Director Operations, said at a press conference here promoting this year’s game between Ohio State and Marquette Nov. 9 on the USS Yorktown in Mt. Pleasant, S.C.
That field is, frankly, loaded.
Texas has brought in their second consecutive loaded recruiting class and looks like they could end up being a top ten team in 2013-2014. The same can be said for NC State, who may lose CJ Leslie but could end up being a better team once their trio of blue-chip recruits return for a second season. Missouri, Florida State and Gonzaga are national programs that are annually in or around the top 25, and Davidson has rebuilt themselves into one of the strongest mid-majors teams in the country this season.
And I still haven’t mentioned Kentucky, who could end up bringing in one of the most dominating recruiting classes in the history of recruiting classes in 2013 if they land all of Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle and the Harrison twins. (UPDATE: Since our posting, Zagoria has updated his report to say that Kentucky is “highly unlikely” to participate.)
However the matchups in that event shake out, we are guaranteed to get another handful of intriguing early season basketball games.
I’m a fan.
And, hopefully, I’ll be one of the writers tasked with the difficult assignment of visiting the coast and watching hoops on a boat.
Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.