The Las Vegas Invitational is a college-basketball tournament with one crazy format:
Eight teams, four games apiece in five different cities in a format that does not include a bracket; most games (except two on the final day) already are set in stone on the schedule.
"I think it's good. I think it will be the wave of the future in a lot of ways," Kansas University coach Bill Self said.
His Jayhawks (1-1) will play host to Towson University (2-0) at 7 tonight at Allen Fieldhouse, then meet Tennessee State at 7 p.m. Tuesday, again at Allen.
After that, it's off to Las Vegas for a game against Ball State at 7 p.m. Central time Friday and a finale versus Florida at 10 p.m. Saturday, both games at Orleans Arena.
"This is an exempt tournament and costs you just one game and gets you four. Every time you turn on the TV, you'll see something like this. Even the Preseason NIT is the same way now," Self said.
The NCAA was forced by the courts to allow teams to play in an exempt tournament every year (three or four games counting as just one on the slate). It used to be that teams could play in just two exempt tourneys every four years, but promoters saw that as a restraint of trade.
"I wish we were healthy. It'd be great to have our whole team. The fact we are playing so many games in this period : in which you probably will not have Sasha, it'd be better if Sasha was able to play," Self said of junior forward Sasha Kaun.
Kaun, who has not played yet this season because of a knee injury, might be back for the Dartmouth game on Nov. 28.
Self believes there's not much of a chance the Jayhawks will overlook Towson, Tennessee State and/or Ball State while awaiting the contest against defending national champ Florida.
"I guess there could be danger (of that), but how in the world could you be looking ahead to anybody after what happened to us the other night?" Self said, referring to a home loss to Oral Roberts. "I certainly hope it is not the case."
The Jayhawks, still stinging from the ORU setback, agree Florida is not on the radar.
"I've not even thought of Florida yet," junior forward Darnell Jackson said. "We have Towson coming up, then Tennessee State and Ball State. When Florida comes, it'll be Florida. We are playing one game at a time."
Tonight's game, which is played on a Sunday night not to conflict with the Chiefs' afternoon game at Arrowhead Stadium, matches KU against a Colonial Athletic Assn. team - yes, Final Four participant George Mason is in that league - that has defeated Hartford, 78-64, and Samford, 69-62, to open the season.
Senior guard Gary Neal has scored 61 points, including 41 against Samford. Neal and sophomore guards Tim Crossin and Rocky Coleman rank third nationally in scoring among returning three-man backcourts. Crossin has hit for 11.5 points in two games.
Senior forward Winstonn Tubbs scored 15 points with 13 rebounds against Hartford.
The squad is led by veteran coach Pat Kennedy, who has 436 career victories at Iona, Florida State, DePaul and Montana.
"Pat has always gotten players wherever he's been," Self said. "He is a very personable guy and has been good for our game a long period of time."
LAS VEGAS INVITATIONAL
Tennessee-Chattanooga at Florida, 7 p.m.
Prairie View A&M; at Ball State, noon; Tennessee State at Western Kentucky, 2 p.m.; Towson at Kansas, 7 p.m.
Tennessee State at Kansas, 7 p.m.; Prairie View A&M; at Florida, 7:30 p.m.; Tennessee-Chattanooga at Ball State, 7 p.m.; Towson at Western Kentucky, 7 p.m..
Friday's Games (at Orleans Arena, Las Vegas, all times Central)
Tennessee State v. Prairie View A&M;, 1:30 p.m.; Tennessee-Chattanooga v. Towson, 4 p.m.; Ball State v. Kansas, 7 p.m.; Western Kentucky v. Florida, 9:30 p.m.
Saturday's Games (at Orleans Arena, Las Vegas)
Loser of Tennessee State-Prairie View v. loser of Tennessee-Chattanooga-Towson, 1:30 p.m; Winner of Tennessee State-Prairie View v. winner Tennessee Chattanooga-Towson, 4 p.m.; Western Kentucky v. Ball State, 7 p.m.; Kansas v. Florida, 10 p.m.