Chris Dobbertean does a great job of tracking all of the early season tournaments over at Blogging the Bracket. Scheduling news continues to trickle out around the country and we all know that the beginning of the season is always a good opportunity for some Mid-Major programs to make a name for themselves. Looking at Chris' schedules, who are some of those teams that might get a chance to make some noise this year?
Puerto Rico Tip Off (Nov 21-24)
Puerto Rico is one of those rare tournaments where the Mid-Major teams get play in a eight man Battle Royale rather than being relegated to a "lower" four team division. This year's field will pit for talented Mid-Major squads in VCU, Northeastern, Long Beach State, and Charlotte. All four of these teams have the skill to knock off one of the four big boys at the tournament (Michigan, Georgetown, Kansas State, Florida State) and there is plenty of opportunity for some Mid-Major on Mid-Major crime.
VCU may have the most interesting opportunities for match ups in this tournament. The Rams will be seeking a rematch with Michigan after the Wolverines bounced them from the tournament last year. Also, there was the rumor that Georgetown did not want VCU in the new Big East, so a game with the Hoyas could be enticing. Finally, the Rams have a FSU transfer Terrance Shannon, making a possible match up with the Seminoles interesting.
Charleston Classic (Nov 21-24)
The popularity of Charleston as a college basketball destination has exploded in recent years. The Cougars new arena certainly helps, but last year the city also hosted one of the botched aircraft carrier along with the All-Military Classic as the Citadel.
UMass and Davidson are the most interesting Mid-Major squads in this year's field and will look to battle against the likes of Clemson, Georgia, Temple, New Mexico, and Nebraska. For UMass, Chaz "Michael Michaels" Williams can steal the show and gain some national notoriety, which he greatly deserves. For Davidson, this tournament will be a good gauge for how they might stack up in the Atlantic 10 a year for now with not only UMass in the field, but also former A10 member Temple.
Paradise Jam (Nov 22-25)
Loyola Marymount, Morgan State, and Marist will be present but this tournament may be about resume building for La Salle and Northern Iowa. La Salle is looking to keep the positive momentum they attained from the NCAA Tournament this past March and the Explorers might get a shot at Maryland, Providence, or Vanderbilt. La Salle might even be the favorite coming into this tournament.
For Northern Iowa this tournament will be about gathering some momentum to spring into a Missouri Valley Conference that may be wide open this season.
Hall of Fame Tip-Off (Nov 23-24)
Richmond and Fairfield will get to battle some national powers in North Carolina and Louisville in this one. Everyone assumes the two storied programs will be matched up in the championship game, but don't be surprised if the Spiders can make some noise. Richmond lost two key players in Darien Brothers and Greg Robbins, but Chris Mooney's squad is young and talented with Kendall Anthony, Cedrick Lindsey, and others. Warm up games versus Delaware, Belmont, Minnesota, and Hofstra may also prepare the Spiders well for their November match up with the Tar Heels.
Maui Invitational (Nov 25-27)
This tournament is usually about the nation's heavyweights battling it out in Maui, but this year's tournament will have a distinctive Mid-Major flavor with Gonzaga and Dayton heading to Hawaii. Gonzaga will be looking to prove they are still a national power without Kelly Olynyk and Archie Miller's Dayton squad will just be looking for a big win that may benefit them come Selection Sunday. Joining the two teams in Maui will be host Chaminade, who has a couple of Mid-Major transfers, and Baylor, Minnesota, Syracuse, Arkansas, and Cal.
Cancun Challenge (Nov 21,23)
This field pits two Mid-Majors, Old Dominion and St. Louis, versus two majors, West Virginia and Wisconsin. This will be a resume builder for the talented Bilikens, who will likely be the favorites in this tournament. For Old Dominion this tournament will be a good measuring stick for new head coach Jeff Jones and the Monarchs who have made the transition to Conference USA and are coming off one of the worst year's in program history.
CBE Hall of Fame Classic (Nov 25-26)
An interesting four team field that also features two Mid-Majors versus two BCS opponents. BYU and Wichita State will be seeking some quality wins as they take on Texas and DePaul. The two teams could play each other and maybe an unofficial bracket buster for this year. This will be a good gauge to see where Wichita State is this season and for BYU it's all about the talented Tyler Haws.
Old Spice Classic (Nov 28-Dec 1)
We'll get to see where Jimmy Patsos' Siena squad is at and how good Phil Martelli's Saint Joseph's team may be this year as the two Mid-Majors join a field at Disney that features Memphis, LSU, Butler, Oklahoma State, Purdue, and Washington State.
The Wooden Classic (Nov 28-Dec 1)
This tournament will be a good gauge for Charleston and George Washington, but the most interesting team to watch may be Cal State Fullerton. Do some arena oddities, the first two days of the tournament will be on campus for Fullerton and they could possibly make some noise against a field that includes Creighton, Arizona State, Marquette, Miami, and San Diego State.
Corpus Christi Challenge (Nov 29-30)
Missouri State will try to represent the Missouri Valley Conference well and may get a shot at SMU, Virginia, or Texas A&M on the beach in this one. A win against any of those team could be a solid resume booster for the Bears and the Valley.
Las Vegas Classic (Dec 22-23)
Santa Clara is an interesting team to watch this year and Broncos will get a chance to prove they belong as they face off against UNLV on December 22. After facing of against the Rebels, Santa Clara will face either Mississippi State or South Florida.