SPORTS

Davidson Men’s Basketball to Play Auburn at the 2019 Veterans Classic at the U.S. Naval Academy

by | Jun 30, 2019 | Sports

Action Tips off on Friday, Nov. 8 at 6 PM, ET with Auburn and Davidson; Navy Faces East Carolina at 8:30 PM, ET

ANNAPOLIS, Md. –– Auburn, Davidson and East Carolina will join host Navy in the 2019 Veterans Classic on CBS Sports Network, an annual men’s college basketball showcase that brings together teams from across the country in celebration of Veterans Day.

The sixth annual Veterans Classic will be contested on Friday, Nov. 8, at Alumni Hall in Annapolis, Md.  Auburn and Davidson begin the action at 6 p.m. ET followed by Navy taking on East Carolina at 8:30 p.m. ET.

The Veterans Classic, held annually around Veterans Day, honors our nation’s veterans and showcases the U.S. Naval Academy.  Each of the visiting teams immerse themselves in the inner workings of the U.S. Naval Academy through guided tours held on the day before the games. CBS Sports Network will again televise a 30-minute all-access show that provides a look from these experiences on HOOPS CONFIDENTIAL: VETERANS CLASSIC.

This is the second year of a four-year agreement between Navy and the CBS Sports Network for the network to air the Veterans Classic.

CBS Sports Network, the 24-hour home of CBS Sports, is widely available through all major cable, satellite and telco distributors as well as via OTT streaming service providers YouTube TV, fuboTV, PlayStation Vue, DirecTV and Hulu. Additionally, a live CBS Sports Network stream is available through CBSSports.com and the CBS Sports App by authenticating with select providers. For more information, including a full programming schedule, go to www.cbssportsnetwork.com.

Tickets for the doubleheader are now on sale through the Navy Ticket Office at either 1-800-US4-NAVY, by clicking on the TICKETS tab in the masthead of NavySports.com and then selecting BASKETBALL, or by clicking HERE.  Reserved tickets for the doubleheader in the lower level of Alumni Hall are $25 and upper level general admission seats can be purchased for $15. 

Navy and East Carolina will square off for the first time since the 1990-91 season when the teams were fellow members of the Colonial Athletic Association.  The programs met 20 times in a 10-year span from 1981-82 through their most recent game played 29 seasons ago.  The Mids hold a 12-8 advantage in the series.

Navy, which played the toughest schedule of all Patriot League teams during the 2018-19 season, posted a 12-19 record on the year and placed fifth in the league during regular season with an 8-10 record.  The Mids advanced to the semifinal round of the Patriot League Tournament for the second time in three seasons.

“We are pleased and excited to welcome Auburn, Davidson and East Carolina to the Veterans Classic,” said Navy head coach Ed DeChellis.  “On the court, both Auburn and Davidson could be nationally ranked at the time of the game, and East Carolina will provide a great challenge for us as they are a program on the rise in the very competitive American Athletic Conference.  The games always help to showcase our continuing efforts to pay tribute to our nation’s veterans.

“Off the court, it will be great to once again provide these teams with access to the inner workings of the Naval Academy.  They always come away from these tours with an added appreciation for what our student-athletes and the Brigade of Midshipmen as a whole go through with their daily academic, athletic and military endeavors that prepares them to eventually defend our country.”

East Carolina tallied a 10-21 record during the 2018-19 season, the first year of a second stint for Joe Dooley as the head coach of the program.

The Pirates are the fourth American Athletic Conference team to participate in the Veterans Classic.  Temple took part in the 2015 event, Memphis was in the event’s 2017 field and Wichita State traveled to Annapolis in 2018.

“It is an honor and privilege for us to be participating in such a prestigious event that recognizes and pays tribute to those men and women who have sacrificed their lives to ensure our freedoms,” said Dooley.  “We are excited about the opportunity to be immersed in the workings of the U.S. Naval Academy and spending quality time with some of our servicemen and women.”

Auburn and Davidson have met just once before, with the Tigers winning, 66-59, on Dec. 28, 1951, in a game played in Charlotte, N.C.

Auburn has totaled a 56-18 overall record and a 24-12 regular season mark against Southeastern Conference foes the last two seasons, a short span that includes a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances highlighted by the program’s first trip to the Final Four this past season.  The Tigers also won the SEC Tournament title in 2019 and ended the year ranked 14th in the final Associated Press poll with their overall record of 30-10.

This will be the fifth time in the six years of the Veterans Classic in which a SEC team is part of the field.  Tennessee appeared in the inaugural 2014 event, Florida and Vanderbilt followed in 2015 and 2016, respectively, and Alabama was in the 2017 field.

“From an education standpoint,” said Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl, “when our country was going through the situation of standing for the flag or not, it became evident to me that our student-athletes have never lived through a war. They’re too young to be involved in the draft age and really didn’t have much exposure to the services, military and some of that history. To give our guys the opportunity to play in the Veterans Classic and a chance to see first-hand our great service academies was a great opportunity.

“People in the world of college basketball know that you don’t schedule Bob McKillop and Davidson because he’s too good of a coach and they’re too good of a program. We built this program on the belief that we want our players to play against the best.”

Davidson totaled a 24-10 record last season and finished Atlantic 10 Conference play with a 14-4 record.  The Wildcats received a berth into the 2019 NIT, which came one year after they played in the 2018 NCAA Tournament as the A10 Tournament champions and compiled an overall record of 21-12.  Davidson has played in either the NCAA Tournament or the NIT in seven of the last eight seasons.

Davidson joins VCU (2014) as Atlantic 10 teams to play in the Veterans Classic.

“It is a very special honor to be able to participate in the Veterans Classic and to do so at the United States Naval Academy,” said Davidson head coach Bob McKillop. “Playing Auburn University, a Final Four team, makes it even more special.”

At least one nationally ranked team has been part of the field in three of the previous five editions of the Veterans Classic.  Additionally, 11 of the previous 15 visiting teams which have participated in the Veterans Classic have gone on to secure berths into that season’s NCAA Tournament (eight) or the NIT.  This includes North Carolina in 2015 when the Tar Heels began the season in Alumni Hall as the No. 1 ranked team in the country and ended it with an appearance in the NCAA Tournament’s championship game.

Including 2019 entrant Pearl, seven head coaches who have brought a team to the Veterans Classic have taken a squad to the Final Four during their respective careers, and three of those coaches –– Tom Izzo, Michigan State (2014); Roy Williams, North Carolina (2015); Tubby Smith, Memphis (2017) –– have won an NCAA Tournament title.

Additionally, 15 players who have taken to the Alumni Hall court during the Veterans Classic have gone on to play in an NBA game.  That figure doesn’t include Maryland’s Bruno Fernando, who participated in the 2018 Veterans Classic with the Terrapins and was the No. 34 selection in the 2019 NBA Draft.

Past Veterans Classic Results
2014: No. 15 VCU 85, Tennessee 69; No. 18 Michigan State 64, Navy 59
2015: No. 1 North Carolina 91, Temple 67; Florida 59, Navy 41
2016: Marquette 95, Vanderbilt 71; Ohio State 78, Navy 68
2017: No. 25 Alabama 82, Memphis 70; Navy 71, Pittsburgh 62
2018: Wichita State 83, Providence 80; Maryland 78, Navy 57

Veterans Classic Visiting Team Conference Representation
American Athletic Conference (4): East Carolina (2019), Memphis (2017), Temple (2015), Wichita State (2018)
Atlantic Coast Conference (2): North Carolina (2015), Pittsburgh (2017)
Atlantic 10 Conference (2): Davidson (2019), VCU (2014)
Big East Conference (2): Marquette (2016), Providence (2018)
Big Ten Conference (3): Maryland (2018), Michigan State (2014), Ohio State (2016)
Southeastern Conference (5): Alabama (2017), Auburn (2019), Florida (2015), Tennessee (2014), Vanderbilt (2016)

Past Veterans Classic Visiting Team Season Capsules
2014: Michigan State – 27-12, NCAA Tournament (semifinal); Tennessee – 16-16; VCU – 26-10, NCAA Tournament (first round)
2015: Florida – 21-15, NIT (quarterfinal); North Carolina – 33-7, NCAA Tournament (final); Temple – 21-12, NCAA Tournament (first round)
2016: Marquette – 19-13, NCAA Tournament (first round); Ohio State – 17-15; Vanderbilt – 19-16, NCAA Tournament (first round)
2017: Alabama – 20-16, NCAA Tournament (second round); Memphis – 21-13; Pittsburgh – 8-24
2018: Maryland – 23-11, NCAA Tournament (first round); Providence – 18-16, NIT (first round); Wichita State – 22-15, NIT (semifinal)

Veterans Classic Coaches Who Have Coached in a Final Four
2014: Shaka Smart, VCU; Tom Izzo, Michigan State
2015: Roy Williams, North Carolina
2016: Thad Matta, Ohio State
2017: Tubby Smith, Memphis
2018: Gregg Marshall, Wichita State
2019: Bruce Pearl, Auburn

Future NBA Players to Play in the Veterans Classic (through the end of the 2018-19 NBA season)
2014: Michigan State – Matt Costello, Branden Dawson, Bryn Forbes, Denzel Valentine; Tennessee – Josh Richardson; VCU – Treveon Graham.
2015: Florida – Chris Chiozza, Dorian Finney-Smith, Devin Robinson; North Carolina – Isaiah Hicks, Justin Jackson, Brice Johnson, Theo Pinson.
2016: Ohio State – Keita Bates-Diop; Vanderbilt – Luke Kornet.

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