West Virginia University is going to play in a brand new men’s basketball tournament next November over Thanksgiving weekend.

It’s called The ESPNU Classic, a three-day, eight-team event at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando on Nov. 23, 24 and 25.

In all, 12 games will be played. The entire competition will be televised live — nine games on ESPN2 and three on ESPNU.

Besides West Virginia, the field will include Arkansas, Marist, Minnesota, Montana, Southern Illinois, Virginia Tech and Western Michigan.

Each team will play three games, with losers continuing to compete but in the consolation bracket. The two teams undefeated after two days will meet for the championship.

Pairings and game times will be determined later.

Since the NCAA has raised the maximum number of regular-season games that a team can schedule, WVU will have two weeks of competition before going to Orlando.

The ESPNU Classic announcement was made Thursday by Pete Derzis, senior vice-president and general manager of ESPN Regional Television, and Rich Ensor, commissioner of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

ERT, a subsidiary of ESPN, Inc., will own and operate The ESPNU Classic. The MAAC will serve as the sponsoring conference.

“I am certainly impressed with the quality of teams appearing in this tournament,” WVU coach John Beilein said. “With the competition and ESPN television exposure, it will be a great experience for our team.”

WVU probably will be the youngest squad in that event. Frank Young, 6-5 senior forward, is the only starter returning from a team that posted a 22-10 record and reached the NCAA tournament’s Sweet 16.

Marist and Virginia Tech each will return all five starters.

Five of the eight teams made 2006 postseason appearances. Besides WVU, those are Arkansas, Minnesota, Montana and Southern Illinois.

WVU has never played Arkansas, Marist, Montana or Western Michigan in men’s basketball.

It is 46-29 in an ancient, recently lapsed series with Virginia Tech. The Hokies’ new coach, Seth Greenberg, decided to drop WVU after 69-67 and 53-49 victories in 2003-04.

The Mountaineers won their first-ever meeting with Southern Illinois by 64-46 in the first round of this year’s NCAA tournament.

They lead the Minnesota series by a 2-1 edge. WVU won 93-88 in 1966 at the Far West Classic and 80-69 in the 1980-81 National Invitation Tournament.

The Gophers prevailed by 76-61 in 1996-97 at Minneapolis.

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