While I know for some of you paying attention to the current basketball season is hard enough, hoops fans were given a glimpse of the 2011-12 season today with the announcement of the field for the 2011 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Tipoff, in Spingfield Massachusetts. If that isn't the longest name ever, I don't know what is.
Right now the field will include 8 teams, 2 of which are not yet announced. The tournament will include Kentucky, South Florida, Vermont, Marist, Old Dominion and Penn State. The rest of the field will be announced early next month.
For Penn State this provides two things. A good early season test, and a chance to get a few good teams on the schedule. At this point it looks as if this will run like the Philly Classic. Teams will play one or two games at home before making their way to Springfield. Assuming that this is the case, Penn State will need to win a game or two to get a shot at Kentucky.
I'll be the first to admit it'll take an act of god to beat Kentucky next year, but in the grand scheme of things playing a good team is never a bad thing. You learn, you grow, and you get it on your schedule.
Vermont is 21-5 this season, with an RPI rating of 79; Marist is just 4-24 this season, but Old Dominion is 21-6 (RPI 29) Kentucky is 17-7 (RPI 14) and South Florida is 8-19. It's somewhat a mixed bag of teams but not a shabby lineup. Assuming that Penn State doesn't pull out of the contest like they did the 76 Classic this year, it should be a good time.
As far as the rest of the 2011-12 season, Ole Miss at the BJC is the only other team known to be on the schedule. To the best of my knowledge, the 4 year series with Virgina Tech is over, which is fine by me since it only went our way once.