Top Teams Announced for 2015 ESPN Events Early-Season Men’s Basketball Tournaments

Top Teams Announced for 2015 ESPN Events Early-Season Men’s Basketball Tournaments

ESPN Events, a subsidiary of ESPN, owns and operates early-season basketball events worldwide beginning in early-November and running through the Christmas holiday.

The four multi-day, destination events consisting of the Gildan Charleston Classic, Puerto Rico Tip-Off, DIRECTV Wooden Legacy and Orlando Classic are bracket-format tournaments featuring 12 games over three days. The teams compete once per day, advancing with a victory. The two remaining undefeated teams will face off in a championship game. Also following the same format, the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic will be announced in late December.

In addition, the Armed Forces Classic, to be played on Friday, Nov. 13, and the State Farm Champions Classic, to be held on Tuesday, Nov. 17, make-up the 2015 owned-and-operated events. Fans will also get a glimpse of six top teams at the annual Jimmy V Men's and Women's Classics Presented by Corona with teams to be announced surrounding the events in December.

The 2014-15 college basketball season is underway and several teams ranked in the latest Associated Press poll (Nov. 17) will be participating in 2015 events: No. 1 Kentucky, No. 2 Arizona, No. 4 Duke, No. 5 Kansas, No. 9 Virginia, No. 11 Wichita State, No. 13 Gonzaga, No. 19 Michigan State and No. 25 Utah. 

Armed Forces Classic – Friday, Nov. 13

The Armed Forces Classic – a series of Division I men's college basketball games played on United States military bases worldwide over a five-year rotation – will originate from the Marine Corps Base Camp Smedley D. Butler in Okinawa, Japan.

  • The event will feature Gonzaga against Pittsburgh, marking the first-ever meeting between the two nationally-recognized programs.
  • Gonzaga is ranked No. 13 in the Associated Press poll (Nov. 17) and Pittsburgh received votes.
  • The games will be televised on ESPN as part of the network's America's Heroes: A Salute to Our Veterans initiative honoring the men and women who are serving and who have served in the United States military, both at home and abroad.
  • Additional information can be found on the Armed Forces Classic website.

State Farm Champions Classic – Tuesday, Nov. 17

The fifth installment of the State Farm Champions Classic will be played at the United Center in Chicago, Ill., and will once again showcase Kansas vs. Michigan State and Kentucky vs. Duke.

  • All four teams earned NCAA Championship bids in 2014.
  • Kentucky – after advancing to the 2013 NIT – played in the 2014 NCAA national title game, falling to UConn.
  • Michigan State was an Elite Eight participant, Kansas advanced to the third round and Duke to the second round.
  • Kentucky is ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press poll (Nov. 17), along with No. 4 Duke, No. 5 Kansas and No. 19 Michigan State.
  • Additional information can be found on the Champions Classic website.

Gildan Charleston Classic – Nov. 19, 20 & 22

The Gildan Charleston Classic, held at TD Arena in Charleston, S.C., will include Bradley, George Mason, Long Beach State, Mississippi, Oklahoma State, Seton Hall, Towson and Virginia.  

  • A No. 1 seed in the 2014 NCAA Championship, Virginia advanced to the Sweet 16.
  • Oklahoma State earned a NCAA Championship berth and Towson advanced to the Postseason Tournament quarterfinals.
  • Virginia is ranked No. 9 in the Associated Press poll (Nov. 17) and Oklahoma State received votes.
  • Additional information, including travel packages, can be found on the Gildan Charleston Classic website.

Puerto Rico Tip-Off – Nov. 19, 20 & 22

The Puerto Rico Tip-Off, held in San Juan, will showcase Butler, Miami (Fla.), Minnesota, Mississippi State, Missouri State, Temple, Texas Tech and Utah. 

  • As a No. 1 seed, Minnesota was crowned the 2014 NIT champion with wins over High Point, St. Mary's (Calif.), Southern Miss, Florida State and SMU in the title game.
  • Utah earned a NIT berth and Missouri State played in the Postseason Tournament.
  • Utah is ranked No. 25 in the Associated Press poll (Nov. 17), while Minnesota is receiving votes.
  • Additional information, including travel packages, can be found on the Puerto Rico Tip-Off website.

DIRECTV Wooden Legacy – Nov. 26, 27 & 29

The DIRECTV Wooden Legacy will be played in Orange County, Calif. The first two days will be held on the campus of Cal-State Fullerton and the final day of competition will be at Honda Center in Anaheim. The field consists of Arizona, Boise State, Boston College, Evansville, Michigan State, Providence, Santa Clara and UC Irvine.

  • Arizona, a No. 1 seed, and Michigan State, a No. 4 seed, both advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight in 2014.
  • Providence earned its first NCAA Championship berth in 10 years by winning the BIG EAST Championship title.
  • UC Irvine participated in the 2014 NIT.
  • Arizona is ranked No. 2 in the Associated Press poll (Nov. 17) and Michigan State is No. 19.
  • Additional information, including travel packages, can be found on the DIRECTV Wooden Legacy website.

Orlando Classic – Nov. 26, 27 & 29

The Orlando Classic, held at HP Field House at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando, Fla., will feature Alabama, Dayton, Iowa, Notre Dame, Southern California, Wichita State, Xavier and a team to be named at a future date.  

  • Dayton, Iowa, Wichita State and Xavier all earned 2014 NCAA Championship berths.
  • Dayton advance to the Elite Eight and Wichita State made an appearance in the third round, while Iowa and Xavier played in First Four games.
  • Wichita State stands at No. 11 in the Associated Press poll (Nov. 17), while Dayton, Iowa and Notre Dame all received votes.
  • Additional information, including travel packages, can be found on the Orlando Classic website.

ESPN Events
ESPN Events, a subsidiary of ESPN, owns and operates a large portfolio of collegiate sporting events worldwide. The roster includes two Labor Day weekend college football games; 11 college bowl games and eight college basketball events, which accounts for approximately 200 hours of programming, reaches almost 64 million viewers and attracts over a half a million attendees each year. With satellite offices in Boca Raton, Boise, Birmingham, Dallas-Fort Worth, Albuquerque, St. Petersburg and Las Vegas, ESPN Events builds relationships with conferences, schools and local communities, as well as providing unique experiences for teams and fans.

ESPN Events also manages the Big 12 Corporate Partner Program.

Collegiate Football
AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl (Houston); AdvoCare Texas Kickoff (Houston); Birmingham Bowl (Alabama); Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl (Florida); Boca Raton Bowl (Florida); Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (Boise); Gildan New Mexico Bowl (Albuquerque); Hawai'i Bowl (Honolulu); Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl (Dallas-Fort Worth); MEAC/SWAC Challenge presented by Disney (Orlando, Fla.); Raycom Media Camellia Bowl (Montgomery, Ala.); Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl (Nevada); The Home Depot College Football Awards (Orlando, Fla.) and Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl (Dallas-Fort Worth)

Collegiate Basketball

Armed Forces Classic (U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen, PR); DIRECTV Wooden Legacy (Orange County, Calif.); Gildan Charleston Classic (South Carolina); Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic (Honolulu); Jimmy V Men's & Women's Basketball Classics Presented by Corona (New York City & Notre Dame, Ind.); Orlando Classic (Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Fla.); Puerto Rico Tip-Off (San Juan, PR) and State Farm Champions Classic (Indianapolis)

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ESPN Media Contact: Rachel Margolis Siegal at 860-766-2798 or

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