Navy to host Veterans Classic basketball tournament in November

The Navy men’s basketball team in honor of Veterans Day is set to host an inaugural Veterans Classic at the Naval Academy that includes three NCAA tournament teams from this past season, the school announced Monday in conjunction with its broadcast partner CBS Sports Network.

The Nov. 14 event to be held at Alumni Hall features two games, beginning with Tennessee against Virginia Commonwealth. The second game matches Michigan State against Navy.

The Veterans Classic is scheduled to run through 2017, with Navy hosting and participating along with top programs from around the country. Players and staff from the three visiting schools also will learn first-hand about the daily routine for students at the Naval Academy by touring the campus, watching noon meal formation and dining with the brigade at King Hall.

“This should be a terrific event over the next four years,” Navy Athletic Director Chet Gladchuk said in a statement. “It will be an incredible opportunity for our basketball program to host some of the premier basketball programs in the country in Alumni Hall.”

Michigan State advanced to the NCAA tournament’s round of eight last season before losing to eventual national champion Connecticut. Tennessee reached the regional semifinals under then-coach Cuonzo Martin, who left Knoxville for the same position at Cal. In April, the Volunteers hired Donnie Tyndall as their new head coach.

VCU lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The Rams have appeared in four consecutive NCAA tournaments, all under Coach Shaka Smart, who in 2011 directed VCU to its first and only berth in the Final Four.

“We are very appreciative to be part of an event that both honors the armed services and provides our student-athletes with a terrific learning experience,” Smart said in statement posted on the VCU men’s basketball Web site. “The opportunity to compete against a high-caliber program in Tennessee is something we’re grateful for as well.”

Navy finished 9-21 last season under Coach Ed DeChellis, who is entering his fourth season after coming to Annapolis from Penn State. The Midshipmen have increased their win total in each of the last three seasons as DeChellis attempts to resurrect a program that last appeared in the NCAA tournament in 1998 and last won an NCAA tournament game in 1986.

Ticket information will be released at a later date, according to a Navy athletic department spokesman, who added tickets would be available for purchase on the school’s Web site.

Gene Wang is a sports reporter covering multiple beats, including Navy football, the Capitals, Wizards, Nationals, women’s basketball, auto racing, boxing and golf. He also covers Fantasy Football.
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