Welcome back to the world of the MTB College Sports Bucket List where the games and events all matter and you may just learn a thing or two about what true college sports fandom is all about. We're on to another event you may have no idea about, but you really should!
No. 58: CIAA Basketball Tournament (D2 Basketball):
Quick, name the top three attended basketball tournaments in the country? I'm guessing you've got two real quick in the Big East tournament and the ACC tournament, but I'm guessing that you also wouldn't know the third if you weren't reading this feature because it's the D2 CIAA tournament which attracted over 200,000 fans to Charlotte last season. It's not only a huge fan event, but some great basketball being played.
The CIAA is the oldest HBCU (Historically Black College or University) conference in the country and it has only one college (Chowan State) that isn't a HBCU. In the past this tournament was also featured as part of ESPN's coverage of Championship Week.
What makes this such a hugely attended event? Well the CIAA has billed it as a huge "reunion" of sorts because it's not just all about the basketball. There are huge parties, celebs galore, and even a fashion event all tied to the basketball game.
Sure some people may show up for all the other things surrounding the basketball, but don't get it twisted, the basketball is just as good as what's happening around the venue - with Charlotte currently hosting through 2014.
What also makes this conference unique is it's provided some great talent to the NBA including the likes of Earl "The Pearl" Monroe (Winston-Salem State), Ben Wallace (Virginia Union), Charles Oakley (Virginia Union), and more.
The conference has also been very competitive for years on the national level with five D2 National Championships along with two more national runner-ups. Virginia Union, the school most famous for producing Ben Wallace, has 3 national titles with the latest coming in 2005 (also finished runner up in '06). Winston-Salem State and former member North Carolina Central also have won D2 Championships and St. Augustine's was the runner up in 1984.
The mixture of events surrounding the tournament as well as the quality of basketball on the court makes this an event you shouldn't miss and the increasing numbers of people attending the tournament on a yearly basis show that it's only continuing to grow into a must see event and for that they land pretty high on our list for a non-D1 event.