CBI 2021: Tournament Bracket, Schedule, Format and Teams to Watch

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistMarch 17, 2021

CBI 2021: Tournament Bracket, Schedule, Format and Teams to Watch

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    Charles Krupa/Associated Press

    The 2021 College Basketball Invitational will take place over three days at the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach, Florida. 

    Eight mid-major squads were chosen for the event, which will begin with the quarterfinal round on Monday. 

    The field has been downsized from the 16-squad format the CBI last used in 2019, when the championship was a three-game series. This year, the final will be a one-off showdown between the programs that win on back-to-back days in the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds. 

    The 16-7 Coastal Carolina Chanticleers enter the tournament with the best record, and the Bryant Bulldogs are the only other 15-win side. 

    Since those two teams face off in the opening round, a team with a worse record than Coastal Carolina and Bryant will make a run to the title game. 

CBI Schedule

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    Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

    Monday, March 22

    Stetson vs. Bowling Green (11:30 a.m. ET)

    Coastal Carolina vs. Bryant (2:30 p.m. ET)

    Longwood vs. Pepperdine (5:30 p.m. ET)

    Bellarmine vs. Army (8:30 p.m. ET)


    Tuesday, March 23

    Stetson/Bowling Green winner vs. Coastal Carolina/Bryant winner (5:30 p.m.)

    Longwood/Pepperdine winner vs. Bellarmine/Army winner (8 p.m.)


    Wednesday, March 24

    Championship game (8 p.m.)

    All games can be viewed on FloSports.


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    Charles Krupa/Associated Press

    Bryant and Coastal Carolina both have to find ways to recover from heartbreaking conference tournament final defeats to win the CBI. 

    Bryant, which fell to the Mount St. Mary's Mountaineers in the NEC final, has a more well-rounded offense than the Chanticleers out of the Sun Belt.

    Led by Peter Kiss, the Bulldogs have five players who average over 10 points per game. Three of those players shoot 38 percent or better from three-point range. 

    Forward Hall Elisias may be the perfect counter to Coastal's Essam Mostafa in the battle in the paint that could decide the contest. 

    Elisias scored 12 or more points in five of his last six games and has at least seven rebounds in his last five appearances. Mostafa, meanwhile, finished the regular season with back-to-back double-doubles, but he only had 23 points and 14 rebounds in two Sun Belt tournament games. 

    If Elisias neutralizes Mostafa's play beneath the rim, Bryant could control the contest through its collection of scorers. The Bulldogs may follow the same formula against whichever teams they face in the following rounds.

    Bryant should have the advantage over the Stetson Hatters or Bowling Green Falcons since those two teams come into the CBI in indifferent form. Stetson lost three of its last five, and Bowling Green fell in its last two and crashed out of the MAC tournament in the quarterfinals. 

    The ideal final for the CBI would pit Bryant or Coastal against the Bellarmine Knights, and it looks the Bulldogs will have the edge in the quarterfinal round to start a trip to the championship.


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    John Minchillo/Associated Press

    Bellarmine's 10-game winning streak in the middle of Atlantic Sun play is a good indication of how well it can perform in the CBI. 

    The Knights scored over 70 points in seven of those 10 contests and won seven games by double digits. However, they lost their last two games after a two-week pause in action. 

    With more practice and game time back on their legs, they should be in position to replicate their performances from January and February. 

    Bellarmine averages 74.3 points per game and shoots 51.5 from the field, so its offense could dictate the pace of every matchup it is in.

    The Knights open their tourney against an Army Black Knights squad that experienced an up-and-down ending to the Patriot League season. They went 2-3 in their last five and reached the 70-point threshold on one occasion.

    If Bellarmine plays up to its averages, it should get past Army to set up a meeting with the Longwood Lancers or Pepperdine Waves. 

    Longwood and Pepperdine finished in the middle of the Big South and West Coast Conference, respectively, and they struggled in matchups with the top teams in their leagues. They combined to lose five by double digits to the Winthrop Eagles and Gonzaga Bulldogs.

    Bellarmine's path to the final appears to be uncomplicated, and if it draws the Bryant-Coastal winner in the championship, it could use its offensive prowess to win the CBI crown.


    Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

    Statistics obtained from ESPN.com.