The Battle 4 Atlantis college basketball tournament is typically held in a place named, understandably, Paradise Island. The luxury resort at which the games are played features white sand and immaculate pools and palace-like hotels. The average high temperature in November is 82 degrees and the sun is usually shining.
This year the event will take place at a gym called the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Welcome to the college basketball season, which, like most everything else in 2020, has been disrupted.
Last week, the season start date was pushed from Nov. 10 to Nov. 25. Many tournaments were set to occur in that two-week window. The date change, in addition to travel concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic, have led to adjustments.
The Maui Invitational, in existence since 1984, won’t be played in Hawaii this year. It’s moving to Asheville, North Carolina.
Nothing against Asheville, but it’s not exactly a tourist destination. The National Park Service says Asheville is “perhaps best known as the location of George Vanderbilt’s Biltmore Estate and the home of major American novelist, Thomas Wolfe.”
The average high and low temperatures for November are 58 and 38 degrees, respectively. That’s about 20 degrees lower than Maui that time of year.
The temperature difference is nearly twice that for the Battle 4 Atlantis switcheroo.
Perhaps that’s why the event operators are distancing themselves from South Dakota.
Initial reports indicated the event, which has taken place in Nassau since 2011, was being moved to Sioux Falls. That’s partially true: Many of the teams that agreed to play in the tournament will instead meet in South Dakota’s largest city.
But the Battle 4 Atlantis operators want to make it clear this is not a simple relocation.
“Any reported mentions of this are incorrect,” the resort tweeted from its official account last weekend. “Atlantis and Battle 4 Atlantis (are) not affiliated with the upcoming events scheduled to take place in SD.”
Even with this distinction, it doesn’t change the fact that a handful of teams had planned to travel to paradise and will instead go to South Dakota. Sorry, Wichita State Shockers. Enjoy the view of Nebraska on your 700-mile flight north.
The Maui Invitational has a different attitude, tweeting, “We’re taking Maui to the mainland!”
There are several other November tournaments that are up in the air. The Cayman Islands Classic and the Cancun Challenge are headed to Florida. The Paradise Jam in St. Thomas is being moved, with a new spot to be determined.
Michigan and Michigan State will be affected as well. The Wolverines were set to play in the Empire Classic in New York the week before Thanksgiving. At the very least, that event will have to be pushed back to accommodate the later start date. The Spartans have the same issue, having signed up for the Champions Classic on Nov. 10 in Chicago.
Fortunately for those two programs, they did their tropical travel last season: Michigan played in Atlantis; Michigan State in Maui.
Missing out on Chicago and New York are not major disappointments. If the teams end up staying home, stepping outside the gyms at least, they won’t know the difference.
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