Battle 4 Atlantis opens with 4 ranked teams squaring off

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              Iowa State guard Tyrese Haliburton, left, is fouled by Southern Mississippi guard Auston Leslie (21) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019, in Ames, Iowa. Iowa State won 73-45. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
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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:

QUITE A START

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.

HALIBURTON’S IN CONTROL

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.”

INJURY RETURNS

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.

BUILDING PROJECTS

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.

GOOD OMEN?

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