In a scheduling move that began leaking out on a bitterly cold Wednesday, LSU confirmed Thursday it will spend the week before Thanksgiving playing in the 2014 Paradise Jam.
The news was reported by the Virgin Islands Daily, which had the eight-team field confirmed by the event’s promoter.
Aside from LSU, the field includes Clemson, Seton Hall, Gardner-Webb, Illinois Sate, Nevada, Old Dominion and Weber State. The event takes place from Nov. 21 to Nov. 24.
Here’s how the hometown paper assessed the field:
“The field appears to be on a par with last season’s: No real Final Four contenders in the mix, but a few major conference schools capable of earning bids to the NCAA Tournament, in addition to frisky mid-majors and other Division I programs to round out the field.”
Right now, LSU, which has a No. 53 RPI in CBS analyst Jerry Palm’s simulation, would be the best team in the field. Next comes Clemson (13-6, 4-3 ACC) with a No. 80 RPI, and followed up by Illinois State (11-10, 4-5 Missouri Valley) and the Redbirds’ RPI of No. 118. Overall, the average RPI rating for the field is roughly 143.9.
Locking down an in-season tournament is a big piece of the program’s scheduling strategy, usually eating up roughly four games and exposing the Tigers to playing on short turnarounds in a neutral setting. If anything it’s an attempt to replicate what they may face at the SEC tournament or in the NCAA tournament.
Meanwhile, LSU already has three other games secured as part of home-and-home agreements. They will travel to UAB, along with hosting Massachusetts and Texas Tech. The program will also likely secure another game as part of the SEC-Big 12 Challenge.
In addition, the Tigers also schedule anywhere between three and five home games against in-state programs. Those games have yet to be determined, but it appears LSU may only be searching for one or two games at most to round out the nonconference slate for next year.