UTEP is one of eight schools invited to participate in the 2008 Anaheim Classic, scheduled for Nov. 27-30 at the Anaheim Convention Center adjacent to Disneyland.
The tournament field was announced on Thursday by ESPN Regional Television, Inc.
Tournament pairings and game times will be announced at a later date, with ESPN2 and ESPNU providing live coverage of the event.
Joining UTEP in the 2008 Anaheim Classic will be Arizona State, Baylor, Cal State Fullerton, Charlotte, Providence, St. Mary's and Wake Forest. Three of those teams – Baylor, Cal State Fullerton and St. Mary's – participated in last year's NCAA Tournament. Arizona State and Charlotte played in the postseason NIT, and UTEP earned a bid to the inaugural College Basketball Invitational. Five of the teams posted 20+ victories and UTEP finished 19-14.
"We are excited about the quality of the field, representing outstanding conferences from around the country. These teams compete at the highest level and should entertain the college basketball fans in the Southern California area," said Pete Derzis, senior vice president and general manager, ESPN Regional Television. "The Anaheim Classic showcases quality competition and an outstanding off-court experience for the student-athletes, coaches and staff. Fans will have an opportunity to spend the Thanksgiving weekend watching college basketball and enjoying Disneyland, along with all that Southern California has to offer."
Four games will be played on both Nov. 27 and Nov. 28, with the two undefeated teams competing in the championship game on ESPN2 on Nov. 30.
Tickets for the Anaheim Classic will be available to the general public on Monday, August 18, 2008, through www.Tickemaster.com or Ticketmaster at (714) 704-2000. Packages include 12 games for $75 and single-session tickets for $15. Special travel package information can be found at www.anaheimclassic.com or www.GETTRAVEL.com.
2008 Anaheim Classic Participant Summaries
Arizona State - In Herb Sendek's second season with the Sun Devils, ASU ranked as one of the nation's most improved teams, winning 13 more games than the previous season. The Sun Devils posted a 20-win season for just the fourth time in 27 years. ASU won nine Pac-10 games for just the third time in the past 13 seasons (11-7 in 2002-03 and 10-8 in 1999-2000) and went 5-4 conference record in the second half of the season with a road win at Arizona and home wins vs. Stanford and USC. Only UCLA and ASU beat both Stanford and USC.
Baylor - Under coach Scott Drew, the Bears finished in a tie for fourth place in Big 12 play with a school-best 9-7 record, which led Baylor to its fifth NCAA Tournament appearance – its first since 1988 and second since 1950. All but two of Baylor's 11 losses came to teams who advanced to the NCAA Tournament.
Cal State Fullerton - Coached by Bob Burton, the Titans shared the Big West Conference regular-season championship and won the postseason tourney title to earn the school's first berth in 30 years to the NCAA Tournament, in which they lost to Wisconsin in the first round. The final 24-9 record is the school's best Div. I record and marks the fourth consecutive winning season, including back-to-back 20-victory campaigns.
Charlotte - The 49ers' NIT bid was the school's eighth postseason appearance under coach Bobby Lutz in his 10 years at the university. Charlotte's all-time winningest coach with 189 wins, Lutz has led the 49ers to five NCAA Tournaments and three NIT's.
Providence - Playing one of the country's toughest schedules (44th), the Friars played 14 of their 31 games against schools that qualified for the NCAA Tournament. PC encountered three of those teams to open the season at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off in San Juan last season, defeating Temple and Arkansas before falling to Miami (Fla.) in the championship game. Providence is directed by first-year coach Keno Davis, who comes to the Friars after leading Drake to a 28-5 overall record and berth in the NCAA Tournament last season.
St. Mary's - Led by Coach Randy Bennett, the school's winningest coach, in 2007-08 the Gaels earned their second NCAA appearance in four years. St. Mary's won 25 games and finished second in the West Coast Conference with a 12-2 record. The Gaels lost a double-overtime decision to San Diego in the semifinals of the WCC Tournament, and earned an NCAA Tournament at-large bid.
UTEP – In 2007-08, the Miners improved considerably from 2006-07, raising their record from 14-17 to 19-14 and their Conference USA mark from 6-10 to 8-8. UTEP also made its fourth postseason tournament appearance in the last five years. Six of coach Tony Barbee's top eight scorers are scheduled to return this season.
Wake Forest - The Demon Deacons finished the 2007-08 campaign with a 17-13 overall record and a 7-9 mark in the ACC without a senior in their starting lineup. Wake Forest is under the direction of second-year coach Dino Gaudio, a former assistant coach to the late Skip Prosser.