Feb 10, 2013; Tucson, AZ, USA; Arizona Wildcats forward Brandon Ashley (21) signals to the crowd during the second half against the California Golden Bears at McKale Center. California beat Arizona 77-69. Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Duke and Arizona lead list of Preseason NIT participants

When the 2013-2014 NCAA basketball season arrives, it appears that the basketball viewing public won’t have to wait very long to see upper-echelon competition.

On Tuesday, the complete field for the 2013 NIT Season Tip-Off (commonly known as the preseason NIT) was set, and the headliners include Duke, Arizona, and Alabama. In fact, the Blue Devils and Wildcats are on opposite sides for the tournament that begins on November 18th, and the paths are relatively clear toward a face-off in the finals.

As in previous seasons, the opening rounds of the tournament will be played on the university campuses (similarly to the postseason NIT event), but the “final four” will be played in Madison Square Garden.

Duke and Arizona are both consensus top-10 teams in the country heading into the season, and each is led by an all-World recruit combined with big-time returning talent. Jabari Parker is the high-impact Duke Freshman, and if it wasn’t for Andrew Wiggins, he would be getting buzz as the potential #1 overall pick in the 2014 draft. As for Arizona, they arrive with top-10 freshman Aaron Gordon to go along with returning stud Brandon Ashley.

It isn’t quite a foregone conclusion that we’ll see both programs in the finals, but until one of them falls, we can dream of that type of match-up.

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Tags: Alabama Crimson Tide Arizona Wildcats Duke Blue Devils NCAA Basketball