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Guest Post: How Sioux Falls, SD became a college basketball destination

who needs Hawaii when you have South Dakota?

Good morning, and thanks for your continued support of Extra Points.

Today, I’m happy to turn the time over to a regular Extra Points contributor, Joe Healy. Joe sent me the perfect kind of Extra Points freelance pitch…he offered to go track down the answer to a question that I had always wondered.

Specifically…why does Sioux Falls, South Dakota, get big-time neutral-site college basketball games? I understand places like Vegas, or Hawaii, or New York City…but…South Dakota?

Here’s what Joe learned:

How Sioux Falls, S.D. became a college basketball destination

The locations of early-season multi-team events (MTEs) and big-ticket neutral-site games in college basketball generally fit into two buckets. 

The first bucket consists of big cities that are relatively easy to travel to (even flying commercial) and have either NBA arenas to host the event or have complexes very adept at handling major events. 

Think the Champions Classic, which has rotated between Indianapolis, Chicago and New York since 2013, the Legends Classic, which is typically held in Brooklyn, and the ESPN Events Invitational, which is held at the Wide World of Sports complex adjacent to Walt Disney World.

The other bucket consists of destinations. The Maui Invitational, which this season took place in Honolulu due to the devastating wildfires earlier this year in Lahaina, is the OG in this category. But more recently, a myriad of tournaments have popped up in the Bahamas, led by the Bad Boy Mowers Battle 4 Atlantis, as have events in the US Virgin Islands and Cayman Islands. To a lesser degree, there are also all kinds of events in common vacation destinations stateside like Las Vegas, Fort Myers, Fla. and Charleston, S.C. 

And then, with all due respect, there’s Sioux Falls, S.D., home of the Sanford Pentagon. 

The Pentagon—and yes, before you ask, the building does actually have five sides—hosted a marquee men’s matchup between Auburn and Baylor earlier this season along with men’s games involving South Dakota, Texas-Rio Grande Valley, Nebraska and Oregon State. Syracuse and Oregon are also set to play there later this month. 

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