NASSAU, THE BAHAMAS – Baha Mar, the leading resort destination in The Bahamas, revealed today 19 NCAA men’s and women’s teams who will participate in the newly announced “Baha Mar Hoops” event, making it the largest early season event in all of college basketball. The weeklong slate of games is headlined on the men’s side by Louisville and Maryland and on the women’s side by defending National Champion Stanford and two top-5 teams in Maryland and NC State. In total, 23 games will be played across three events during the U.S. Thanksgiving week, Nov. 22-27 at the Baha Mar Convention Center.
“We are thrilled to welcome the men’s and women’s NCAA teams for the first-ever Baha Mar Hoops event,” said Graeme Davis, President, Baha Mar. “At the heart of the resort destination is our determination to inspire the youth from around the world. We have designed Baha Mar facilities and offerings with the intention of hosting events such as Baha Mar Hoops and look forward to watching these impressive collegiate athletes play basketball in the beautiful Bahamas.”
A mere 55-minute flight from Florida, Baha Mar opened in 2017 and is home to three iconic brands: Grand Hyatt, SLS and Rosewood. Situated on 1,000 acres overlooking Nassau’s famous Cable Beach, the resort destination features more than 2,300 rooms and an abundance of dynamic programming, activities, and amenities including the largest casino in the Caribbean, a state-of-the-art convention center, an 18-hole Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course, the Caribbean’s first and only flagship ESPA spa, a collection of more than 40 restaurants and lounges, and more. The $200 million luxury water park, Baha Bay debuted in July 2021 as the latest addition to Baha Mar’s portfolio of spectacular guest offerings. Set on 15 beachfront acres, Baha Bay has introduced an exciting array of aquatic activities and experiences, alfresco dining, a gaming pavilion, beach club, and more.
The basketball action tips on Monday, Nov. 22 with the eight-team “Baha Mar Hoops Nassau Championship.” The men’s tournament, which is designed strictly for mid-major NCAA Division I programs, is in its fourth iteration after launching in 2017. The field is headlined by Abilene Christian, which won the Southland Conference title last season and upset #3-seed Texas in the NCAA Tournament’s First Round.
Four of the top programs in college basketball next season then will compete in the “Baha Mar Hoops Bahamas Championship” on Nov. 25/27. Maryland is expected to once again be a Top-25 team next season for Coach Mark Turgeon. The Terps return three starters from last season’s NCAA Tournament squad and add two key transfers in center Qudus Wahab from Georgetown and point guard Fatts Russell from Rhode Island. The Terrapins will face one of the nation’s most experienced teams in Richmond which returns all of last year’s roster sans one starter and will feature four returning “super seniors.” The Spiders were one of the “last teams out” of last season’s NCAA Tournament despite having wins over Kentucky, Vanderbilt and Loyola-Chicago.
Excitement is high in Starkville for a Mississippi State program primed for a strong run this season. Coach Ben Howland’s program returns its leading scorer (Iverson Molinar), the SEC’s leading rebounder (Tolu Smith) and adds four transfers – Garrison Brooks, a three-year starter at North Carolina, D.J. Jeffries (Memphis), Rocket Watts (Michigan State) and Shakeel Moore (NC State). Louisville coach Chris Mack has had similar success reloading this off-season. The Cardinals return three starters but add seven newcomers including top-100 recruits Mike James and Roosevelt Wheeler, as well as Sydney Curry, a one-time Kansas commit before going the junior college route. Television broadcast information for the four games of the Bahamas Championship will be announced at a later date.
Pink Flamingo Championship
On schedule the same days as the Bahamas Championship, college basketball’s top women’s programs take the floor in the “Baha Mar Hoops Pink Flamingo Championship” starting on Thursday, Nov. 25 with six of the seven participating teams having played in last season’s NCAA Tournament. The majority of the teams will play two games each on Thursday/Saturday but defending NCAA champ Stanford will play three straight days, Thursday-Saturday. All seven games of the Pink Flamingo Championship will be broadcast on FloHoops.
The slate of games in the Pink Flamingo Championship will likely feature multiple top-10 clashes with Stanford, Maryland, NC State and Indiana all being projected to be elite programs next season. A Final Four-worthy doubleheader tips off the action with NC State facing Maryland and Indiana battling Stanford in the first two games of women’s action on Thursday. On Saturday, Stanford plays Maryland which could be a preview of the 2022 NCAA Tournament championship game as the two programs are projected to be top-five nationally in the preseason.
“In most early season events, you are lucky if you see one top-10 match-up; we may have three such games in Nassau,” said Women’s Tournament Director and ESPN analyst Debbie Antonelli. “In all my years in the game, I don’t know if I have ever seen so many quality teams in one field. Every game will have an NCAA Tournament level of play and several of these games will be on par with the Final Four. Fans are in for a treat with not only Baha Mar but the play on the court.”
Baha Mar Hoops is being managed by veteran North American promoter bdG Sports. The firm also currently manages two Korn Ferry Tour professional golf events in the country each January. bdG partnered with Tourism to create the Bahamas Great Exuma Classic and Bahamas Great Abaco Classic in 2017 and both events return at the start of next year’s Korn Ferry Tour schedule in January.
“The collaboration between Baha Mar, the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and bdG Sports has been more than two years in the making and we are excited to see it all come to life this November,” said bdG Sports president Brooks Downing. “As you can see, the response from the college basketball community to make Baha Mar its destination of choice is a true testament to the vision and commitment of Baha Mar president Graeme Davis and his entire team. Baha Mar has staked its flag in the sands of Cable Beach as the premier college basketball destination in the Caribbean.”