Cayman Islands Classic tip-off days away

Ahmad Wagner was Iowa's Most Improved Player last season.

After years of planning, a dream will become a reality when the inaugural Cayman Islands Classic tips off this Monday, 20 November 2017 at John Gray High School Gymnasium. The tournament features eight top-tier college basketball teams in the United States.

Five of the teams competed in postseason play in 2017 with Cincinnati, and South Dakota State advancing to the NCAA Tournament. Cincinnati bowed out after a second-round loss to UCLA. Cincinnati was ranked No. 18 in the final 2017 Associated Press poll, posting a 30-6 record while making its seventh straight trip to the NCAA Tournament.

The Bearcats have picked right up where they left off from last season, owning a 3-0 record entering the tournament while being ranked No. 12 in the latest Associated Press poll.

South Dakota State, which plays in the Summit League, made its fourth appearance in the last seven years (2012, 2013, 2016) in the 2017 NCAA Tournament falling to eventual national runner-up Gonzaga in the first round. The Jackrabbits will feature the nation’s top returning scorer in 6-9 forward Mike Daum who averaged 25.1 points last year.

Iowa and Richmond participated in the NIT. Iowa had a 19-15 record last year, falling to the eventual NIT champ TCU in that tournament’s second round. Richmond, a member of the Atlantic 10 Conference, posted a 22-12 record last season while advancing to the quarterfinal round of the 2017 NIT.

Wyoming went 23-15 last season en route to winning the College Basketball Invitational – the school’s first major postseason title since winning the 1943 NCAA Championship.

UAB owned a 17-16 mark last season. Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns, which competes in the West Division of the Sun Belt Conference, had a 21-12 record last season with its last appearance in the NCAA Tournament in 2014.

Buffalo went 17-15 last year. The Bulls captured its first outright Mid-American Conference championship in 2015, while advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history.

Iowa will face Louisiana in the opening game at 12 p.m. local time followed by South Dakota State meeting Wyoming at 2:30 p.m. In the first game of the evening session at 5 p.m. Richmond plays UAB. Buffalo and Cincinnati will conclude opening-day action in the final matchup of the day starting at 7:30 p.m.

Jacob Evans started all 36 games last season for Cincinnati.

Semi-final round games are slated for 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, 21 November. Losing teams will compete in their second game Nov. 21 with tip offs at 12 p.m. and 5 p.m. The seventh-place game will open the final day of competition on Wednesday, 22 November starting at 12 p.m., followed by the fifth-place game (2:30 p.m.), third-place game (5 p.m.) and title game (7:30 p.m.) to crown the Cayman Islands Classic champion.

Hundreds of fans, alumni and supporters usually travel with each team, and organisers are anticipating at least 1,000 visitors who they say will enjoy a taste of the Cayman Islands.

Entertainment will include steel pan music, a swing band from John Gray High School and half-time competitions, prizes and giveaways. There will also be a tailgating party zone in the Truman Bodden Sports Complex parking lot complete with local Cayman cuisine, jerk chicken, pizza, local beer, rum and spirits, popcorn and hamburgers and hot dogs.

“I know that there is a huge basketball fraternity in the Cayman Islands, and I hope to see members of that community out in their numbers next week,” said Coach Victor ‘Voot’ O’Garro, President of Caymax Sports Ltd., host of the event.

“Plus, the NBA season is currently in session so there is a lot of basketball fever on the island and I think fans would enjoy seeing some court action live. It promises to be an exciting line-up,” O’Garro added.

Tickets for the games starting at US$50 are currently on sale at Crown Plaza on Eastern Avenue or online at

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