What's in a Holiday Tournament?

K-State announced Saturday that it's switching its participation from the 2011 Cancun Governor's Cup to the 2011 Diamond Head Classic in Hawai'i.

That opportunity arose after Mark Turgeon pulled his team out of next year's tournament, citing its close proximity to what likely will be an earlier start to the new 18-game conference schedule, and a more difficult schedule overall.

Leaving aside the fact that Turg is a whiny Jayhawk who apparently is afraid to challenge his team (this year's Aggie non-conference schedule wasn't exactly a grinder, either), this was nothing but good news for the Cats.

There are a multitude of this reasons why this tourney is a huge upgrade from Cancun, which I will address after the jump.

The Good

The Diamond Head Classic features a strong, but manageable, field. In addition to perennial host Hawai'i (current RPI = 184), there's ACC representative Clemson (79), Tim Floyd's UTEP team (56) and Long Beach State (105), which currently leads the Big West Conference and thus is on track for a No. 15 seed.

Oh, and there's some team named Xavier (19), too.

With two spots left to be filled, both likely by power conference teams, Honolulu will feature a decently strong field for a holiday tournament, if not quite the meat grinder that is the typical Maui Invitational field.

But its true advantages lie not in RPI boosting, but in PR boosting. The DHC takes place during Dec. 22, 23 and 25, when there are no other college basketball games on the tube. Hell, there's almost no sports at all.

That means K-State will be the only non-NBA show in town on Christmas Day, and ESPN promotes the heck out of the tournament by televising most of the games on ESPN2 and sending Doug Gottlieb out to enjoy the sun 'n' surf.

And of course, the site of the tournament is an upgrade for the Cats. No offense to Cancun, but it's nice not to have to have a passport to travel, and despite what "Hawai'i Five-O" would have you believe, Hawai'i is a tad bit safer than Mexico.

That's good exposure, good opponents and a great location, which is all you can ask for from a holiday tourney.

 

The Bad

The Cancun Governor's Cup was not a tournament that thrilled me, for several reasons.

One was the field. A slew of mid-major teams, including College of Charleston (77), Massachusetts (136), Rice (176), Southern Miss (42) and Utah (122), was not going to do that much for K-State's RPI in 2011-12. And as of today, there are no power conference teams slated for the event. Ugh.

Exposure-wise, the event is a year behind the Diamond Head Classic, and it shows. The crowds are thinner, the promotion is paltrier and, frankly, the arena is uglier. The CGC just doesn't have the prestige and pedigree of a Puerto Rico Tip-Off or an Old Spice Classic.

And despite the fact that it also is an ESPN-sponsored event, it's buried among several other Thanksgiving tournaments that are much more attractive to the casual viewer. It doesn't command the attention the DHC does.

Last year, Colorado State beat Southern Miss in the title game of the event. Did anyone even watch it? Certainly not as many people as watched Butler dispatch Washington State in Hawai'i.

 

The Ugly

Despite its drawbacks, the CGC is far from the worst tournament out there.

Take the 2011 Old Spice Classic field, for instance. It's usually a strong tournament, but for whatever reason, ESPN is not exactly sending a bang-up crew of performers to Walt Disney World this November.

You've got Arizona State (157), the worst team in the Pac-10; Dayton (59), currently cruising toward its second straight NIT appearance; DePaul (214), the worst team in the Big East; Fairfield (102), currently leading a piddly conference that nobody cares about (the MAAC); Minnesota (41), which is in the process of coming apart at the seams; Texas Tech (152), the second-worst team in the Big 12; and Wake Forest (242), the worst team in the ACC.

Holy crap, what a collection of losers. And we get to watch them all day long for three days on Thanksgiving week!

Who do you add to balance out that field? The Los Angeles Lakers?

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