Asheville’s record: 1-2
Overall record: 3-4
Payout: 2 million dollars (in Dr. Evil voice)
A Thanksgiving in the Bahamas: unaffordable for this graduate student.
The Battle 4 Atlantis might be one of the more ridiculous concepts to recently appear in College Basketball, and that’s saying something (aircraft carriers, play-in round, post-season tournaments beside the NIT and NCAA, Dick Vitale in general). It’s a Thanksgiving weekend tournament being played inside a converted hotel ballroom that happens to be in the middle of an opulent Bahamas resort featuring gambling, water parks, beaches, nightclubs, and more. I’m sure a fun weekend was had by all.
Basketball-wise, Asheville got a lot of exposure from this tournament, certainly more had the Bulldogs simply played money games vs. Georgia or Ohio State. This tournament gave us three tv games against three different opponents with three different outcomes.
The first game against UConn turned out slightly better than imagined, although it left many feeling frustrated that the Bulldogs had a chance to win it and came up short. This mood was not alleviated when UCF beat the Huskies the next day. Still, losing by 10 to the defending national champion is about as moral a victory as you can get and Asheville should hold their heads high for that one.
College of Charleston posed perhaps the most interesting (and exciting!) game of the tournament, as two good mid-major teams went at it for 40 minutes. Ultimately Asheville came up short, and while you can argue about the reasons behind the loss it was a close game and provided a better prep session for close games during conference play than double-digit losses to ACC and Big East teams.
Finally, the Utah game surprised no one as the Dogs routed the Utes (what an ‘Ute’ is exactly, I don’t know) by hitting outside shots and driving the paint.
So Asheville comes away 1-2 from a trip to the Bahamas with a steel briefcase full 2 million in small, unmarked bills. Ok, kidding about the briefcase part. More importantly, Asheville gets much-needed exposure from playing teams that they don’t usually play in an unfamiliar environment. If this sounds like the NCAA tournament, then you’re correct. Now it’s back to reality as the Bulldogs face Gardner Webb in Boiling Springs on Tuesday in the Bulldogs’ conference opener.
By the way, if yesterday’s game wasn’t evidence that the Southern and Big South conferences need to have some sort of conference challenge ala the ACC and Big 10, then I don’t know what is. Just throwing it out there.