Battle 4 Atlantis preview: tournament keys and notes

By: Adam Tortelli

The Battle 4 Atlantis tournament, although probably not as deep with top-25 nationally ranked schools as last year, will once again feature premier talent from the men’s college basketball circuit.

National champions from each of the past two seasons competed in this very tournament (Connecticut 2011-12 and Louisville 2012-13) that will be held Thanksgiving weekend.

Joining Xavier in the Bahamas will be the perennial powerhouse of Kansas and a few annual dark horse teams including Villanova, Tennessee and Iowa.

Also competing will be a trio of squads looking to make names for themselves: the University of El Paso, Texas (UTEP), Wake Forest and USC.

The Muskies are in a prime position to make some noise early in the season. Solid play could lead to head coach Chris Mack and the boys battling against the premier program of Kansas or fellow Big East member Villanova.

Finishing the tournament in third place or higher will work wonders for team confidence and a NCAA Tournament résumé come March.

Preseason No. 6 in the country Kansas Jayhawks enter the tournament as lofty favorites to leave as champions.

With decades of dominance among men’s college basketball elites, the experience of last year’s Sweet 16 team and No. 1 recruit and NBA prospect Andrew Wiggins, the Jayhawks definitely deserve the hype.

Although Villanova, Iowa and Tennessee will not begin the season as part of the nation’s top-25, they received considerable amounts of recognition and votes for a spot among college basketball’s finest.

These dark horse teams will most likely see time in and out of the rankings all year.

Despite lacking regular season and postseason accomplishments as lengthy as the rest of the field, UTEP, USC and Wake Forest are not to be taken lightly.

USC’s new head coach Andy Enfield is fresh off a magical ride with Florida Golf Coast last spring, where he led an unknown 15 seed to the Sweet 16 for the first time in tournament history.

Wake Forest is trying to recapture the glory days of the late 90s and early 2000s, headlined by Chris Paul and Tim Duncan’s historic careers.

As the Musketeers march closer to a difficult Big East Conference, it is imperative to see Xavier learn on-the-fly against such talent during their weekend in Nassau, Bahamas.

There is an array of questions looming that can very easily be answered while competing at such high levels.

Who will emerge as the go-to scorer? Who will be looked on to solidify defense on the perimeter or in the post?

The Musketeers will start off the tournament against Iowa in one of the most captivating first-round matchups.

Both teams were extremely young last year and look to display the difference one year can make.

The remaining first-round matchups are: Kansas vs. Wake Forest, Villanova vs. USC and Tennessee vs. UTEP.