VILLANOVA, MICHIGAN, BAYLOR, and NC STATE headline the 2020 Empire Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project
Revised March 11, 2020
PRINCETON, N.J. – The 26th annual Empire Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project (@empireclassicbb) returns to Madison Square with a loaded field, featuring No. 9 Villanova, Michigan, No. 1 Baylor, and NC State competing in the Championship Rounds presented by Continental Tire on November 19-20.
General public tickets for the Empire Classic Championship Rounds presented by Continental Tire are on sale. To receive ticket information, follow the Empire Classic on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram at @empireclassicbb.
The complete field and schedule will be announced at a later date.
No. 11 Villanova (Head Coach: Jay Wright, Big East Conference)
Villanova heads into this week’s Big East Tournament as the No. 2 seed and owns a 24-7 overall record…the Wildcats have won four Big East championships and two National Championships (2016, 2018) over the last six seasons…with no scholarship seniors on this year’s roster, all five starters are expected to return next season, led by junior Collin Gillespie, sophomore Saddiq Bey, and freshman Jeremiah Robinson-Earl…this will be Villanova’s third appearance in the Empire Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project…the Wildcats played in 2002 and 2012, where they fell in the championship game.
Michigan (Head Coach: Juwan Howard, Big Ten Conference)
Head coach Juwan Howard returned to Ann Arbor for his first collegiate coaching job in 2019-20 after spending the last six years with the Miami Heat and began his collegiate coaching career with seven straight wins, including wins over two ranked opponents…afterwards, Michigan made the biggest leap in AP Poll history, going from unranked to the No. 4 spot…the Wolverines enter this week’s Big Ten tournament with an overall mark of 19-12…Michigan is expected to return 13 letterwinners in the 2020-21 campaign, including three of the 2019-20 team’s top scorers in Isaiah Livers, Franz Wagner, and Eli Brooks…the Wolverines also have the No. 4-ranked 2020 recruiting class in the nation (per ESPN.com)…Michigan will be making its third appearance in the Empire Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project, winning the event in 2016.
No. 5 Baylor (Head Coach: Scott Drew, Big 12 Conference)
No. 5 Baylor previously sat atop the national rankings for five consecutive weeks and put together the longest winning streak in Big 12 history with 23 consecutive wins…the Bears now own a 26-4 record are are the No. 2 seed in the Big 12 tournament…head coach Scott Drew is in his 17th season at the helm of the program and is Baylor’s career leader in wins and winning percentage…four starters are expected to return next season, including the Bears’ top three leading scorers, led by sophomore Jared Butler and junior MaCio Teague…the Bears’ 2020 recruiting class is ranked No. 18 by ESPN.com…Baylor will make its Empire Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project debut in November.
NC State (Head Coach: Kevin Keatts, Atlantic Coast Conference)
Kevin Keatts is in his third season leading the Wolfpack and has turned NC State into a scoring machine…his first two teams each averaged over 80 points a game, something that had not been done in Raleigh since the 1995-96 season…the Wolfpack are 19-12 upon entering this week’s ACC tournament as the No. 5 seed…four starters are projected to return next season, led by junior Devon Daniels and sophomore Jericole Hellems…NC State will also welcome the No. 9-ranked recruiting class in the country (per ESPN.com)…the Wolfpack previously played in the Empire Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project in 1997.
In the 2019 Empire Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project, Vernon Carey averaged 25.5 ppg and 11.0 rpg to lead top-ranked Duke to the title. In the championship game win over Georgetown, Carey posted 20 points and 10 rebounds as the Blue Devils scored an 81-73 win. In the semifinals, he tallied 31 points and 12 caroms in an 87-52 win over Cal. Texas rebounded from an 82-66 semifinal loss to the Hoyas with a 62-45 win over Cal in the consolation match.
About the Empire Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project
First played in 1995, the Empire Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project is acclaimed as college basketball’s premier early-season tournament. Featuring teams from across the nation, the Empire Classic annually attracts the top programs in the sport. Four teams from the most prestigious conferences in the country host a pair of games at home in addition to playing the Championship Rounds at the World’s Most Famous Arena – New York City’s Madison Square Garden.
About Wounded Warrior Project
Wounded Warrior Project (@wwp) is the beneficiary of the Empire Classic. With the mission to honor and empower Wounded Warriors, WWP is the hand extended to encourage warriors as they adjust to their new normal and achieve new triumphs. Offering a variety of programs and services, WWP is equipped to serve warriors with every type of injury – from the physical to the invisible wounds of war.
About the Gazelle Group
The Empire Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project is produced by the Gazelle Group of Princeton, N.J. The Gazelle Group is a sports marketing firm, specializing in event production and management, client representation, and sponsorship consulting. Gazelle produces numerous nationally-recognized events, such as the Legends Classic, the Gotham Classic, the Sunshine Slam, and the College Basketball Invitational. For more information on the Gazelle Group, please visit www.gazellegroup.com.
About the Northeast Conference
The Northeast Conference (NEC) is the sponsoring conference of the Empire Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project. Now in its 39th season, the NEC is a NCAA Division I collegiate athletic association consisting of 11 institutions of higher learning located throughout seven states. For more information on the NEC, visit the official website at www.northeastconference.org or follow on Twitter @NECsports.
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