by RENALDO DORSETT
Following the latest edition of the Associated Press rankings for the NCAA Men’s Basketball season, the fourth edition of the Battle 4 Atlantis (B4A) is expected to field yet another powerful field.
The eight-team field will feature four teams ranked in the top 25 and fifth team just outside those rankings
The tournament tips off on Wednesday, November 26 and the championship game take place Friday November 28.
The eight-team field will feature the North Carolina Tar Heels, Georgetown Hoyas, UCLA Bruins, Florida Gators, Wisconsin Badgers, Oklahoma Sooners, UAB Blazers and Butler Bulldogs.
The Badgers will come into the tournament as the highest seeded team currently ranked No.3.
“We’re excited to be apart of the B4A,” Badgers head coach Bo Ryan said, “This tournament has quickly turned into one of the premier events in college basketball and this year’s field of teams is no exception. I’ve heard the great things about Atlantis and we’re looking forward to the whole experience.”
The Tar Heels will come into the tournament ranked No.6 and head coach Roy Williams is looking forward to the early challenge for his programme.
“The field for the B4A is one of the deepest and most talented of any tournament in college basketball,” he said, “It will be a tremendous challenge for our team. Atlantis is a spectacular destination and I know the people who will attend will see plenty of great basketball and have a wonderful experience.”
One spot below the tar Heels are the Florida Gators, ranked No.7.
Head Coach Billy Donovan said the field will set his team on the right path as they prepare for Southeastern conference play.
“We are very excited about the high level of competition in the B4A, and we are looking forward to the opportunity to compete in the event,” he said, “Tough games early in the season always give you an opportunity to see where you need to improve and prepare you for conference and postseason competition.”
The Oklahoma Sooners, ranked No.18 nationally, will undoubtedly be a home crowd favourite at the Imperial Ballroom, due to the presence of lead guard and Grand Bahama native, Buddy Hield.
“Our players, staff and fans are all incredibly excited about participating in this year’s B4A, which has quickly become one of the premier events in all of college basketball,” Sooners coach Lon Kruger said, “If we enjoy the tournament as much as past participants tell us we will, it’ll be a fantastic experience for everyone in our group.”
Speaking during Sooners media day, Hield said it will be a special moment for his friends and family.
“It’s a special feeling. We have never been together where everybody has been able to watch me and cheer me on. Hopefully the guys and I will be ready to play hard for a large crowd,” he said. “We are going to handle our business and try to win the tournament,” said Hield. “I feel like we have a good chance to go and compete for the title.”
Just outside the top 25, the UCLA Bruins received 41 votes for inclusion into the top 25 and will also feature a Bahamian player on their roster, sophomore forward Wannah Bail.
“Our team is really looking forward to playing in this year’s B$A in the Bahamas,” Bruins Head Coach Steve Alford said, “This is the strongest field of teams they have had in the Atlantis tournament, and we are very excited to be playing in there this November. Our players want to play a solid non-conference schedule, and having the opportunity to face these teams at the Atlantis resort is a win-win for our programme.”
Hield and the Sooners will face Bail and the Bruins on the opening day of the tournament at 2pm.
Coaches among the remainder of the field each expressed their anticipation for the opportunity to compete in this year’s event.
John Thompson III, Hoyas Head Coach: “My team and I are excited to play in the B4A and to be apart of this year’s field, which includes some of the best teams in the country. We will have the chance to test ourselves early this season.”
Jerod Haase, Blazers Head Coach: “The B4A gives UAB Basketball a great opportunity to go against some of the best teams in the history of college basketball. We are very excited to be chosen for this event and feel like this is one more way that we can take UAB basketball to the next level.”
Bulldogs Head Coach Brandon Miller has take a medical leave of and Interim Head Coach Chris Holtmann will lead the team in his absence.
“The B4A draws one of the top fields of any early season tournament and it’s a major challenge for my team,” Miller said, “Our players want to be tested against the very best, and the B4A gives us a very good gauge of where our team stands as we prepare for our upcoming conference season.”