|Duke Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski.|
National collegiate basketball powers Duke, Georgetown, Texas and California headline the 25th annual Empire Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project (formerly the 2K Classic) which returns to Madison Square Garden this coming November.
General public tickets for the Empire Classic (@empireclassicbb) Championship Rounds presented by Continental Tire go on sale at noon (ET) on Wednesday, March 13, and may be purchased by calling Ticketmaster at 866-448-7849 or through Ticketmaster.com.
In addition to playing in the Championship Rounds presented by Continental Tire at the World's Most Famous Arena on Nov. 21-22, Duke, Georgetown, Texas, and Cal will host a pair of regional round games on campus. The four regional round hosts combine for 126 NCAA appearances, 25 Final Fours, and seven National Championships.
The complete field and schedule will be announced at a later date.
Duke (Head Coach: Mike Krzyzewski, Atlantic Coast Conference) - Hall of Fame head coach Mike Krzyzewski, the winningest coach in college basketball history, is in his 39th season at Duke and has led the nationally-ranked Blue Devils to a 26-5 record heading into the ACC Tournament this week...this season, Duke features what may go down as the best freshman class ever, led by the presumptive top two picks in the NBA Draft, Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett...next season, Duke welcomes a Top 5 recruiting class led by the nation's No. 3 recruit, center Vernon Carey, Jr...the Blue Devils are making their fourth appearance in the Empire Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project (1999, 2008, 2015)...they won the 2008 title and the 2015 title with an 86-84 win over Georgetown.
Georgetown (Head Coach: Patrick Ewing, Big East Conference) - After a Hall of Fame playing career, Patrick Ewing is in his second season as the head coach at his alma mater, Georgetown...after winning 15 games during his first season, Ewing has already guided the Hoyas to 19 wins this season as Georgetown heads into this week's Big East Tournament...10 of the 14 players on this year's roster are expected to return next season, led by a trio of freshmen who rank among the team's top four scorers - Mac McClung (13.4 ppg), James Akinjo (13.3 ppg, team-high 166 assists and 32 steals), and Josh LeBlanc (9.4 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 35 blocks)...joining this group will be N.C. State transfer Omer Yurtseven, who averaged 13.9 ppg and 6.7 rpg a year ago...this is their third appearance in the Empire Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project (1998, 2015).
Texas (Head Coach: Shaka Smart, Big 12 Conference) - In his four years, Shaka Smart has led Texas to two NCAA Tournaments and has guided the Longhorns to 16 wins this season despite playing the eighth most difficult schedule in the country...the Longhorns are expected to return four starters next season, including sophomore guards Matt Coleman (10.2 ppg, team-high 114 assists) and Jase Febres (8.7 ppg), as well as freshman Jaxson Hayes, who averages 10.3 points and 5.1 rebounds a game...they will be joined by the No. 12 ranked recruiting class in the country, per ESPN.com...the Longhorns are playing in the Empire Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project for the sixth time (1997, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014), having won the 2006 and 2014 events...Texas beat Cal, 71-55, to capture the 2014 Classic.
California (Head Coach: Wyking Jones, Pac-12 Conference) - With no seniors on the 15-man roster, head coach Wyking Jones is guiding Cal through a transition period...but youth is being served as sophomore forward Justice Sueing leads the Bears in scoring (14.5 ppg), rebounding (6.1 rpg), and steals (51)...classmate Darius McNeill averages 11.2 points and is second to Sueing with 42 thefts...junior point guard Paris Austin nets 11.7 ppg and has handed out a team-best 124 assists...Cal is making its fourth appearance in the Empire Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project (2004, 2009, 2014).
In the 2018 Empire Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project, Iowa led for virtually the entire game and by as many as 25 in earning the title with a 91-72 win over Connecticut. Luka Garza scored 22 points and pulled down seven rebounds in claiming the tournament MVP award. The Hawkeyes advanced to the title game after upsetting No. 13 Oregon, 77-69. Oregon rebounded to beat No. 15 Syracuse, 80-65, in the consolation game.
About the 2K Empire Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project
First played in 1995, the Empire Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project is acclaimed as college basketball's premier early-season tournament. Featuring teams from across the nation, the Empire Classic annually attracts the top programs in the sport. Four teams from the most prestigious conferences in the country host a pair of games at home in addition to playing the Championship Rounds at the World's Most Famous Arena - New York City's Madison Square Garden.
About Wounded Warrior Project:
Wounded Warrior Project (@wwp) is the beneficiary of the Empire Classic. With the mission to honor and empower Wounded Warriors, WWP is the hand extended to encourage warriors as they adjust to their new normal and achieve new triumphs. Offering a variety of programs and services, WWP is equipped to serve warriors with every type of injury - from the physical to the invisible wounds of war.
About the Gazelle Group:
The Empire Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project is produced by the Gazelle Group of Princeton, N.J. The Gazelle Group is a sports marketing firm, specializing in event production and management, client representation, and sponsorship consulting. Gazelle produces numerous nationally-recognized events, such as the Legends Classic, the Gotham Classic, the Sunshine Slam, and the College Basketball Invitational. For more information on the Gazelle Group, please visit gazellegroup.com.