Eleven of the 2017 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship tournament-field – seeded on the No. 1 through 4 lines – participated in ESPN Events’ early-season men’s college basketball events. ESPN Events, a division of ESPN, owns and operates 10 early-season men’s basketball events worldwide beginning in November and running through the Christmas holiday.
The Charlotte, N.C., based group managed six multiple-team events during the 2016-17 season, consisting of the Gildan Charleston Classic, Tire Pros Invitational, Wooden Legacy, AdvoCare Invitational, NIT Season Tip-Off and Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic. The multi-day, destination events staged from Charleston, S.C., Orlando, Orange County, Calif., Orlando, Brooklyn and Honolulu, respectively, are all bracket-format tournaments.
In addition to the multiple-team tournaments, ESPN Events also manages three neutral site men’s basketball events including the Armed Forces Classic, State Farm Champions Classic and Jimmy V Classic presented by Corona.
Midwest Region No. 1-seeded Kansas opened the season with back-to-back ESPN Events’ games as a participant in both the Armed Forces Classic and the Champions Classic. Villanova, which won the 2016 Charleston Classic, and Gonzaga, which prevailed in an AdvoCare Invitational field that featured five NCAA Championship teams, carried the momentum from these early-season tournament championships to earn No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Championship.
Other 2016 ESPN Events participants who earned top-four seeds in the NCAA Championships include:
- East No. 2 Duke fell to Kansas, 77-75, in the Armed Forces Classic and defeated Florida 84-74 in the Jimmy V Classic presented by Corona
- West No. 2 Arizona began the season with a 65-63 win against Michigan State in the Armed Forces Classic
- South No. 2 Kentucky bested Michigan State in the State Farm Champions Classic
- West No. 3 Florida State used a win against Illinois in the NIT Season Tip-Off to start a 12-game winning streak
- South No. 3 UCLA earned the 2016 Wooden Legacy championship
- East No. 4 Florida joined Duke, Kansas and Michigan State as participants in multiple ESPN Events-operated events during the season (AdvoCare Invitational and Jimmy V Classic)
- West No. 4 West Virginia carried a 12-1 non-conference record that included four games in the NIT Season Tip-Off
- Midwest No. 4 Purdue defeated Arizona State in the Jimmy V Classic presented by Corona
- In all, 28 of the 56 ESPN Events’ early-season men’s basketball events participants qualified for postseason play in either the NCAA Championships or the NIT.
The 2017 ESPN Events college basketball schedule will expand with the addition of PK80. Held in Portland, Ore., from November 23-26, 2017, eight NCAA participants will highlight the field: Arkansas, Butler, Duke, Florida, Gonzaga, Michigan State, North Carolina and Oregon.
ESPN Events, a division of ESPN, owns and operates a large portfolio of collegiate sporting events worldwide. The roster includes three Labor Day weekend college football games; FCS opening-weekend game; 13 college bowl games, 11 college basketball events and two college award shows, which accounts for approximately 250-plus hours of programming, reaches almost 64 million viewers and attracts over 700,000 attendees each year. With satellite offices in Albuquerque, Birmingham, Boca Raton, Boise, Dallas-Fort Worth, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Montgomery and St. Petersburg, 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.
AdvoCare Texas Kickoff (Houston); Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl (Atlanta); Birmingham Bowl (Alabama); Boca Raton Bowl (Florida); Camping World Kickoff (Orlando, Fla.); Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (Boise); Gildan New Mexico Bowl (Albuquerque); Hawai’i Bowl (Honolulu); Las Vegas Bowl (Nevada); Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl (Dallas-Fort Worth); MEAC/SWAC Challenge (Baton Rouge, La.); Montgomery Kickoff Classic (Montgomery, Ala.); Popeyes Bahamas Bowl (Nassau); Raycom Media Camellia Bowl (Montgomery, Ala.); St. Petersburg Bowl (Florida); Texas Bowl (Houston); The Home Depot College Football Awards (Atlanta) and Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl (Dallas-Fort Worth)
AdvoCare Invitational (Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Fla.); College Basketball Awards Presented by Wendy’s (Los Angeles); Gildan Charleston Classic (South Carolina); Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic (Honolulu); Jimmy V Men’s Classic presented by Corona (New York City); Jimmy V Women’s Classic presented by Corona (Connecticut); NIT Season Tip-Off (Brooklyn, N.Y.); PK80 (Portland, Ore.); Armed Forces Classic (Honolulu); State Farm Champions Classic (New York City); Tire Pros Invitational (Orlando, Fla.) and Wooden Legacy (Orange County, Calif.)