The Maui Invitational is widely considered the premiere early-season college basketball tournament, but the Battle 4 Atlantis is quickly becoming a formidable challenger.
This year's rendition of the Battle 4 Atlantis, a three-day tournament scheduled to begin on Nov. 28, will feature national powers Kansas and Villanova facing the likes of Tennessee, Xavier, Iowa, UTEP, USC and Wake Forest.
Nov. 28: Villanova vs. USC (1 p.m.), Kansas vs. Wake Forest (3:30 p.m.), Xavier vs. Iowa (7 p.m.), Tennessee vs. UTEP (9:30 p.m.)
Nov. 29: Semifinals (7, 9:30 p.m.)
Nov. 30: Championship Game (9:30 p.m.)
All times ET and complete bracket available here.
The favorite: Kansas
It all starts with Andrew Wiggins for the 2013-14 Kansas Jayhawks. Wiggins, the nation's top-rated recruit, will look to lead a new-look Kansas team to a November championship before the real challenge of capturing another Big 12 title gets underway.
Ben McLemore, Jeff Withey and Travis Releford are gone from last year's squad, but this year it will be freshman stars Wiggins, Wayne Selden, Conner Frankamp and Brannen Greene attempting to replace them. Sophomore Perry Ellis will also need to play a larger role this year after being the Kansas state Gatorade Player of the Year all four years of high school, but averaging around just six points per game his freshman year.
The Jayhawks will start the Battle 4 Atlantis against Wake Forest, a team that was once a national power but has since fallen on hard times. Kansas is expected to advance easily and, if that happens, would face the winner of Villanova and USC in the semifinals.
Don't count out: Villanova
If nothing else, the Wildcats will have experience on their side this season. Villanova returns each of its top three scorers from last year and six of their top seven. Ryan Arcidiacono will need to display a little more consistency this year, but has demonstrated the ability to catch fire over the course of his career. Perhaps the most prominent example of this was his 32-point outburst on 7-13 shooting from three in Villanova's overtime win over St. John's last year, but he also put up 25 points against both Marshall and Connecticut.
JayVaughn Pinkston, who has endured a tumultuous career at Villanova, returns as the team's leading scorer and best rebounder. A pair of four-star forwards in Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins will also help Jay Wright's squad compete in this tournament and in the new-look Big East.
A Big East championship?
One of the strange scheduling quirks brought on by conference realignment is that both Villanova and Xavier committed to playing in the Battle 4 Atlantis before it was clear that they would be in the same league this year. This means that if Villanova upsets Kansas in the semifinals and Xavier gets by Iowa and the Tennessee-UTEP winner, the final would essentially be a BIg East battle.
Though it wouldn't count in the league standings, it could serve as an intriguing preview for what is to come in January and February.