The Oklahoma men's basketball team will open the highly competitive 2014 Battle 4 Atlantis by playing UCLA on Wednesday, Nov. 26, on Paradise Island near Nassau, Bahamas. The bracket for the eight-team Thanksgiving week tournament was announced Tuesday by ESPN.com.
The OU-UCLA matchup will start at 1:30 p.m. CT at the 3,900-seat Imperial Arena inside the Atlantis resort and will be televised by ESPN2. The Bruins, coached by Steve Alford, went 28-9 last year and finished in second place in the Pac-12 Conference after recording a 12-6 league record. They advanced to the NCAA Tournament round of 32.
The winner of the OU-UCLA game will play the winner of the Butler-North Carolina first-round contest in a noon CT Thanksgiving Day matchup (ESPN). The first-round losers will meet at 6 p.m. CT (AXS TV). Butler finished 14-17 last year while North Carolina posted a 24-10 record and advanced to the NCAA Tournament round of 32.
The other side of the bracket has Wisconsin (30-8; Final Four) meeting UAB (18-13) and Florida (36-3; Final Four) taking on Georgetown (18-15) in the opening round. The championship game is set for Friday, Nov. 28, at 3:30 p.m. CT (ESPN).
The eight Battle 4 Atlantis teams have combined for 200 NCAA Tournament appearances, 55 Final Four showings and 20 national championships.
All 2014 Battle 4 Atlantis games will be aired live on ESPN, ESPN2 or AXS TV. AXS TV is available nationally on AT&T U-verse (channel 1106), DirecTV (channel 340), Dish Network (channel 167), Verizon FiOS (channel 569) as well as Charter, Comcast/Xfinity, Suddenlink and other cable, satellite and telco providers. The network is also distributed in Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Go to axs.tv/subscribe for local listings.
This will mark the fourth year of the Battle 4 Atlantis. Previous winners include Harvard in 2011, Duke in 2012 and Villanova last season.
The Sooners return four starters, 68 percent of their scoring, 70 percent of their rebounding and 73 percent of their assists from last year's 23-10 team that finished in second place in the Big 12 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the second straight season under head coach Lon Kruger.
This year's Battle 4 Atlantis will serve as a homecoming for OU junior guard Buddy Hield, who was a second-team All-Big 12 selection last year. From Freeport, Bahamas, Hield averaged a team-high 16.5 points per game last year and led the Big 12 with his 3.5 3-pointers per league game. He completed play for the Bahamian national team in the FIBA Americas CentroBasket Championship Monday and averaged a team-high 19.8 points over four games. Hield was recently named college basketball's third best shooting guard for 2014-15 by The Sporting News.