MANHATTAN, Kan. – Kansas State will take on Ohio Valley Conference member Eastern Kentucky in the first round of the 2018 U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam on Friday, November 16, as tournament organizers announced the complete bracket for the tournament on Thursday (May 10).
The 19th annual event will return to the UVI Sports and Fitness Center in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands after being relocated to Lynchburg, Virginia and Liberty University this past November due to hurricane damage.
The Wildcats and Colonels will play for the third time in their respective histories and the first time since 1972 in the tournament’s final game on Friday, Nov. 16 at 6:30 p.m., CT (8:30 p.m., local time). The winner would advance to face either Missouri Valley Conference member Northern Iowa or Ivy League co-champion and NCAA Tournament participant Penn on Saturday, Nov. 17 at 6:30 p.m., CT (8:30 p.m., local time), while the two remaining teams will play earlier in the day on Saturday at 4 p.m., CT (6 p.m., local time).
In the opposite bracket, the Pac-12’s Oregon State and Conference USA’s Old Dominion will open the tournament on Friday at 12 p.m., CT (2 p.m., local time) before the second game between NCAA Tournament participant Missouri and Atlantic Sun member Kennesaw State at 2 p.m., CT (4 p.m., local time). The matchup between Northern Iowa and Penn will tip on Friday at 4:30 p.m., CT (6:30 p.m., local time).
The winner of each bracket will face off in the championship game on Monday, Nov. 19 at 6:30 p.m., CT (8:30 p.m., local time). There will be three consolation games that will precede the title contest at 12 p.m., CT (2 p.m., local time; seventh-place game), 2 p.m., CT (4 p.m., local time; fourth-place game) and 4:30 p.m., CT (6:30 p.m., local time; third-place game), respectively.
All the games of the Paradise Jam will stream live on FloHoops at www.FloHoops.com. To access the live event coverage and replays of the tournament, users must sign up to become FloPRO subscribers on FloHoops.com.
“We are excited to take our team to the Paradise Jam and the U.S. Virgin Islands,” said head coach Bruce Weber. “Obviously, it is very encouraging to see that the tournament will be able return to its regular site after all the hurricane damage inflicted on the islands. This is a really competitive tournament that includes a number of quality, historically-strong programs like Missouri, Northern Iowa, Old Dominion, Oregon State and Penn.”
Eastern Kentucky is expected to return 10 lettermen from a squad that posted an 11-20 overall record and finished in a tie for ninth place in the Ohio Valley. The Colonels, who will have a new head coach in A.W. Hamilton, a former assistant at N.C. State, in 2018-19 will be led by three-time First Team All-OVC selection Nick Mayo (18.0 ppg., 6.7 rpg.) and rising junior forward DeAndre Dishman (11.7 ppg., 6.2 rpg.).
Like EKU, K-State will face either Northern Iowa or Penn for the first time in decades. The Wildcats have not played the Panthers since a 72-59 win at Ahearn Field House on Dec. 8, 1984, while the last meeting with the Quakers came in a 69-62 victory in the 1975 NCAA East Regional First Round at the famed Palestra in Philadelphia.
Last season, Penn posted a 24-9 overall record and knocked off Harvard, 68-65, to earn the Ivy League automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, where the Quakers lost to Kansas, 76-60, in the first round under fourth-year head coach Steve Donahue. Northern Iowa tallied a 16-16 overall record in 2017-18, including a three-way tie for seventh in the Missouri Valley standings, under longtime head coach Ben Jacobson.
K-State, which won 25 games and advanced to its 12th Elite Eight this past season, is expected to return 11 lettermen in 2018-19, including all six players who earned starts, including All-Big 12 selections Dean Wade (16.2 ppg., 6.2 rpg.) and Barry Brown, Jr. (15.9 ppg., 3.1 rpg.). Wade and Brown were among the top scoring tandems in the country, ranking seventh and eighth, respectively, in scoring in the Big 12 and accounting for nearly 44 percent of the team’s scoring. The Wildcats also return rising juniors Xavier Sneed (11.1 ppg., 5.1 rpg.) and Makol Mawien (6.8 ppg., 3.4 rpg.) as well as point guards Kamau Stokes (9.0 ppg., 3.4 apg.) and Cartier Diarra (7.1 ppg., 2.0 apg.).
Previous winners of the Paradise Jam include Maryland (2013), Seton Hall (2014), South Carolina (2015) and Creighton (2016) as well as Big 12 participant Baylor (2007). Colorado won the latest title at Liberty with a 79-70 victory over Mercer in a field that included Drake, Drexel, Houston, host Liberty, Quinnipiac and Wake Forest.
This will mark the Wildcats’ second appearance in the Paradise Jam and the first since the 2002 event. K-State lost back-to-back to BYU (64-73) and Toledo (50-58) before defeating Michigan, 82-71, in the consolation game.
The full non-conference slate, as well as 2018-19 season ticket plan details, will be released in the coming weeks.