For a tournament that features only one ranked team and suffers from its title game being held on Christmas Day, this week's Diamond Head Classic should provide some particularly compelling basketball.
The top five teams in the field have all circled this tournament as a final chance to earn much-needed marquee wins before conference play begins.
Favorite Baylor enters this tournament 7-1 and ranked No. 15 in the nation, yet the Bears' loss to Gonzaga in Dallas last week was alarming because the Zags are the first opponent they've faced with a pulse.
Butler arrives in Hawaii even more desperate for wins because this represents the Bulldogs' final chance to defeat a quality non-conference opponent and revive their sagging at-large hopes.
Mississippi State at least has conference play to build its resume, but the SEC West favorites currently have no memorable wins, two awful losses and a 31-point drubbing at the hands of previously struggling Virginia Tech.
And finally, improved Washington State needs another big win or two to put alongside its victory over Gonzaga and strengthen its NCAA tournament hopes entering the start of Pac-10 play.
The biggest key for all five of these teams is to avoid a quarterfinal loss, so they don't wind up in the consolation bracket against middling opponents who will only drag down their RPIs win or lose. Baylor should have little trouble with hapless San Diego, but the other three opening-round games carry more intrigue with Butler facing Utah, Florida State meeting host Hawaii and Washington State and Mississippi State squaring off against one-another.
If someone forced me to make a prediction on how this tournament unfolds, I think Baylor's formidable frontcourt and Florida State's defensive prowess should be enough to carry their respective teams to the title game on Christmas night.
No matter what happens, however, we'll emerge with a clearer picture of where all five of these teams stand entering conference play.