Commentary

Interesting tournaments in early going

Updated: November 12, 2008, 8:36 PM ET
By Dick Vitale | ESPN.com

When I look ahead to the early-season schedule, I am thrilled to see some interesting tournaments. These help to eliminate the bargain-basement goodies, the cupcake city clashes that are easy Ws for the big boys.

There are some great potential match-ups. Florida faces Syracuse while defending national champion Kansas takes on Washington at the CBE Classic in Kansas City. Out in Maui, my pick to win it all, North Carolina, is in a tough field with the likes of Notre Dame, Texas and Alabama.

The field at the Old Spice Classic in Orlando is impressive. Gonzaga, Michigan State, Tennessee and Georgetown are solid clubs. Then add an underrated Siena club, Oklahoma State and always dangerous Maryland under Gary Williams and the event during Thanksgiving week should be a feast.

You have to love the NIT pre-season tip-off event. Oklahoma, the favorite in the Big 12 coaches poll, Purdue, Arizona and Davidson with Stephen Curry headline the field.

Out in Anaheim, an impressive field includes Wake Forest, Arizona State, Baylor, St. Mary's, Charlotte and Providence.

Perhaps the most exciting potential battle could be in the final of the 2K Sports Coaches vs. Cancer Classic with Duke and UCLA favored to meet in the title game at Madison Square Garden.

I'm telling you, it would be special. Don't write it in stone yet as there could be upsets. Just think back to last season, when Kentucky figured it would be lock city to get to the Mecca for a meeting with Connecticut. Nobody told Rick Scruggs and the Gardner-Webb Bulldogs, who stunned big blue at Rupp Arena.

November 21 in the Big Apple could feature Coach K, off of leading the USA squad to the gold at the Olympics. His Duke team would face a great club from the west coast, Ben Howland's Bruins, led by Darren Collison. Howland has the Bruin pride back!

Wow, what a great way to create basketball hysteria. There are so many great games early on, and all of these tournaments are before we hit December, baby! It is time to play hoops!

Dick Vitale

College Basketball analyst
Dick Vitale, college basketball's top analyst and ambassador, joined ESPN during the 1979-80 season. His thorough knowledge of the game is brought forth in an enthusiastic, passionate style. Vitale also contributes columns to ESPN.com.