PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas (AP) — The Battle 4 Atlantis opens Wednesday with four ranked teams playing in an early season test through the Thanksgiving holiday.
Sixth-ranked North Carolina, eighth-ranked Gonzaga, No. 11 Oregon and No. 13 Seton Hall headline the eight-team tournament at the Atlantis resort. Alabama, Iowa State, Michigan and Southern Miss round out the field, which features star talents in Seton Hall’s Myles Powell as a preseason Associated Press All-American and North Carolina freshman point guard Cole Anthony.
Some things to know about the tournament that runs Wednesday through Friday:
QUITE A START
The first round’s final game looks like a late-March matchup between the Ducks and the Pirates.
“You’ve got to go play somebody,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said in shrugging off getting the tough opening-night pairing.
Both teams have already been tested this year. Oregon (5-0) beat No. 16 Memphis and its touted freshman class led by potential No. 1 overall NBA draft pick James Wiseman on Nov. 12. Seton Hall (4-1) lost to preseason No. 1 Michigan State on Nov. 14, though Powell was dominant with 37 points.
HALIBURTON’S IN CONTROL
Iowa State’s Tyrese Haliburton has made a big leap to become the national assists leader.
The 6-foot-5 sophomore arrives in the Bahamas averaging 10.8 points and 10.3 assists for the Cyclones (3-1). He averaged 6.8 points and 3.6 assists in nearly the same minutes last year.
“This summer it was just being able to grow my confidence,” Haliburton said, adding: “It’s just a testament to my teammates. They make a lot of shots, and I can’t get assists if they’re not putting the ball in the hoop.”
Gonzaga recently added a key piece. UNC hopes to do the same.
Preseason all-West Coast Conference pick Killian Tillie missed the first four games for the Bulldogs (6-0) while recovering from knee surgery, though the 6-10 senior scored 15 points in his debut against Texas-Arlington and 13 more against Cal State Bakersfield.
“I’m still not 100%, but I’m still working on it,” Tillie said.
As for the Tar Heels (4-0), coach Roy Williams said Tuesday that senior Brandon Robinson could make his season debut following a preseason ankle sprain.
“I’ve been full practice and full go, so I feel good,” Robinson said.
Robinson has largely seen spot duty in 106 career games, but shot 46% from behind the arc last year and joins a team needing a reliable secondary scoring option behind Anthony.
The tournament features three coaches in the first year at their schools: Alabama’s Nate Oats, Michigan’s Juwan Howard and Southern Miss’ Jay Ladner.
The challenge is particularly tough for Ladner, whose Golden Eagles (2-3) are in a loaded field and are picked last in Conference USA.
“We’ve got a long way to go and this is obviously a huge step up in competition for us,” Ladner said.
The past two Atlantis champions — Villanova in 2017 and Virginia in 2018 — went on to win the NCAA championship.
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