Northwestern Wins: A College Hoops Blog

An ode to Verne Lundquist’s calls and everything college basketball

Top Games Of The Week (November 24-30) Tournament Edition

Posted by Zach on November 23, 2008

Ah, the best week of the non-conference schedule is finally upon us. This slate of Thanksgiving week games is quite possibly the most intriguing and competitive we’ve ever had. The tournaments in Orlando, Maui, Anaheim, Kansas City, Virgin Islands, New Jersey, Vegas and New York are all highlighted by top-25 matchups and historic programs. This week, settle down with some turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie, and enjoy some outstanding holiday hoops.

Maui Invitational– Normally this tournament provides the top November games, and even though the honor goes to the Old Spice this time around, Maui certainly does not disappoint. North Carolina should cruise to their final past the likes of Chaminade, Oregon and Alabama. On the other side of the bracket, Texas will likely face Notre Dame in a captivating semifinal between two top-10 caliber teams. And it only gets more difficult in the final with the Tar Heels on the way. Some players to look out for: Alabama freshman JaMychal Green, Texas forward Damion James, and whether Tyler Hansbrough is close to 100%. He’ll need to be healthy in case a battle with Notre Dame’s Luke Harangody waits. Predicted winner: North Carolina over Notre Dame

Old Spice Classic– Even the first round matchups in this tournament are phenomenal: Tennessee taking on experienced and upset-minded Siena, Wichita State battling Georgetown, Maryland facing Michigan State, and explosive Oklahoma State taking on Gonzaga. This sets up a possible final four of Tennessee, Georgetown, Michigan State and Gonzaga. If you can find a better preseason tournament, please let me know. Keep an eye on whether Bobby Maze can control tempo for Tennessee at the point, if Gonzaga shows why they’re a Final Four contender or if Raymar Morgan has a huge tournament for the Spartans. Predicted winner: Gonzaga over Tennessee

NIT Season Tip-Off– The semifinal matchups at the Garden are BC-Purdue and UAB-Oklahoma, which most likely sets up a very fun final between the Boilermakers and Sooners if they can contain Tyrese Rice (who struggled badly against Saint Louis in a loss) and Robert Vaden (who led the Blazers to an underrated win at Old Dominion), respectively. It’ll be interesting to see how Purdue and coach Matt Painter’s always reliable defense attempts to contain the likes of Griffin inside and Crocker and Warren behind the arc. BC and UAB are both possible bubble teams looking to build their resume while Purdue and Oklahoma can snatch up some quality wins. Predicted winner: Oklahoma over Purdue

Legends Classic- This four-team tournament doesn’t have quite the November matchup that Tennessee vs. Texas provided last year, but there’s still reason to tune in. The first semifinal pits two defensive-minded teams in Washington State vs. Mississippi State, giving us a look at freshman Klay Thompson and shot-blocker extraordinaire Jarvis Varnado. High-scoring Texas Tech and Pat Knight take on Pittsburgh, who happens to be playing great basketball led by a healthy Levance Fields, in the other semi. Once again, you have a team like Pitt trying to build their March resume with the other three squads looking to sneak into the NCAA Tournament and pick up some quality wins early. Predicted winner: Pittsburgh over Washington State

CBE Classic– It seems like we can’t fully gauge how good the four teams in the CBE Classic will be this season, and this tournament should provide an early barometer on whether Florida, Syracuse, Kansas and Washington are contenders or pretenders. Florida has been playing outstanding basketball this season led by all-around guard Nick Calathes. The determining factor in their game against Syracuse could be if anyone on Florida can contain Arinze Onuaku in the paint. The revamped Kansas Jayhawks will be playing on a national stage for the first time, facing a Washington team looking to shake off some early season disappointment. Predicted winner: Syracuse over Kansas

Paradise Jam- Two excellent games Monday night in the Virgin Islands with the consolation game pitting Miami vs. San Diego and the championship spelling Wisconsin vs. Connecticut. Jack McClinton exploded in a one-man offense vs. Connecticut and will look to carry it over against scoring guard Brandon Johnson and a solid mid-major Torero squad. In the championship, Wisconsin’s solid defense will look to confuse the athletic and explosive Connecticut offense. Who performs better in the Trevon Hughes vs. A.J. Price matchup could determine the winner. Also, who will contain Hasheem Thabeet down low? Prediction: Connecticut 66, Wisconsin 58

Anaheim Classic– I absolutely love this tournament. Every single team brings something different to the table to set up quality games in both the winners and losers bracket. On Thursday, Saint Mary’s and Patrick Mills look to squash a dangerous UTEP team. Al-Farouq Aminu, James Johnson and Jeff Teague need to contain outstanding scorer Josh Akognon in the Wake-Cal State Fullerton clash. A-10 contender Charlotte, who nearly took down Clemson on Saturday, faces a tough matchup in Arizona State. To conclude Thanksgiving Day, explosive Baylor and Curtis Jerrells takes on high-scoring Providence. And that’s just the first day, folks. Games like Saint Mary’s-Wake Forest and Arizona State-Baylor in the semis give me no reason to leave the couch. Predicted winner: Baylor over Wake Forest

Cancun Challenge- Four teams will travel to Cancun for some decent games: Drake vs. Vanderbilt and VCU vs. New Mexico. Keep an eye on some standout players like Josh Young of Drake, A.J. Ogilvy of Vanderbilt and Eric Maynor of Virginia Commonwealth. The VCU-New Mexico game is one to watch as both could be battling for one of the last spots on Selection Sunday in two conferences that may receive multiple bids. Predicted winner: VCU over Vanderbilt

Las Vegas Invitational– The four-team tourney in Vegas fails to live up to the standard of many others on this list, but a field of Kentucky, West Virginia, Iowa and Kansas State is still worth watching. Predicted winner: West Virginia over Kentucky

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One Response to “Top Games Of The Week (November 24-30) Tournament Edition”

  1. […] last note: Look at my predictions for these tournaments I made and tell me I’m not […]

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