LOUISVILLE, KY - MARCH 15: Jewuan Long #33 and Zay Jackson #10 of the Murray State Racers reacts after a play against the Colorado State Rams during the second round of the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at KFC YUM! Center on March 15, 2012 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
The 2012 Charleston Classic field currently has seven teams, including BC, Baylor, Charleston, Colorado, Dayton, St. Johns and Southern Illinois. But according to a report in The Southern Illinoisan on Wednesday, those Southern Illinois Salukis might not be making the trip down to Charleston after all.
SIU men's basketball coach Barry Hinson and the Salukis are debating playing in a different tournament than the one they are signed up for this November. As part of a two-year deal with ESPN/ESPN subsidiaries which began last year in the Diamond Head Classic, SIU is supposed to play three games in the 2012 DirecTV Charleston Classic Nov. 15-18. Hinson said he is currently looking to fill 3-4 games and looking at his team's options for another tournament.
SIU athletic director Mario Moccia said he has spoken to an ESPN official who said the Salukis could pull out of the Charleston Classic and play in another ESPN-sponsored tournament in 2012-13 or 2013-14 to fulfill their two-year agreement with the network. ESPN also sponsors the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, Anaheim Classic and Old Spice Classic.
Yesterday, ESPN's Andy Katz confirmed the news that the Salukis were out, while Auburn and Murray State are in to round out the tournament field.
Murray State went for the sure thing and decided to play in the Charleston (S.C.) Classic over being in a Kansas State NIT Season Tip-Off pod that wouldn't guarantee a trip to New York for the semifinals. The Racers complete the eight-team field in the Charleston tourney, scheduled for Nov. 15-18, with Baylor, Boston College, Charleston, Colorado, Dayton, St. John's and Auburn.
This is probably best for all programs involved. The Charleston Classic gets an upgrade with its final two participants in Murray State and Auburn. Murray State was the nation's last unbeaten program last season and returns a senior-laden roster in 2012-13. Auburn has struggled in the SEC and has lost six players since last season, though a ~.500 SEC program is still an upgrade over a SIU team that went just 8-23 in the Missouri Valley.
Meanwhile the Salukis, who have been trying to find an alternative ESPN event that would get them out of playing in Charleston, get their wish as well. As for BC, the Eagles basketball team increases its chances of facing a quality opponent in the Classic's opening round, which seems a bit more important now that we know who the Eagles' ACC/Big Ten Challenge opponent is.