Battle 4 Atlantis opens with 4 ranked teams squaring off

AARON BEARD (AP Basketball Writer)
The Associated Press

PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas (AP) -- The Battle 4 Atlantis opens Wednesday with four ranked teams playing in an early season test through the Thanksgiving holiday.

Sixth-ranked North Carolina, eighth-ranked Gonzaga, No. 11 Oregon and No. 13 Seton Hall headline the eight-team tournament at the Atlantis resort. Alabama, Iowa State, Michigan and Southern Miss round out the field, which features star talents in Seton Hall's Myles Powell as a preseason Associated Press All-American and North Carolina freshman point guard Cole Anthony.

Some things to know about the tournament that runs Wednesday through Friday:

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The first round's final game looks like a late-March matchup between the Ducks and the Pirates.

''You've got to go play somebody,'' Oregon coach Dana Altman said in shrugging off getting the tough opening-night pairing.

Both teams have already been tested this year. Oregon (5-0) beat No. 16 Memphis and its touted freshman class led by potential No. 1 overall NBA draft pick James Wiseman on Nov. 12. Seton Hall (4-1) lost to preseason No. 1 Michigan State on Nov. 14, though Powell was dominant with 37 points.


Iowa State's Tyrese Haliburton has made a big leap to become the national assists leader.

The 6-foot-5 sophomore arrives in the Bahamas averaging 10.8 points and 10.3 assists for the Cyclones (3-1). He averaged 6.8 points and 3.6 assists in nearly the same minutes last year.

''This summer it was just being able to grow my confidence,'' Haliburton said, adding: ''It's just a testament to my teammates. They make a lot of shots, and I can't get assists if they're not putting the ball in the hoop.''


Gonzaga recently added a key piece. UNC hopes to do the same.

Preseason all-West Coast Conference pick Killian Tillie missed the first four games for the Bulldogs (6-0) while recovering from knee surgery, though the 6-10 senior scored 15 points in his debut against Texas-Arlington and 13 more against Cal State Bakersfield.

''I'm still not 100%, but I'm still working on it,'' Tillie said.

As for the Tar Heels (4-0), coach Roy Williams said Tuesday that senior Brandon Robinson could make his season debut following a preseason ankle sprain.

''I've been full practice and full go, so I feel good,'' Robinson said.

Robinson has largely seen spot duty in 106 career games, but shot 46% from behind the arc last year and joins a team needing a reliable secondary scoring option behind Anthony.


The tournament features three coaches in the first year at their schools: Alabama's Nate Oats, Michigan's Juwan Howard and Southern Miss' Jay Ladner.

The challenge is particularly tough for Ladner, whose Golden Eagles (2-3) are in a loaded field and are picked last in Conference USA.

''We've got a long way to go and this is obviously a huge step up in competition for us,'' Ladner said.


The past two Atlantis champions - Villanova in 2017 and Virginia in 2018 - went on to win the NCAA championship.


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