2011 Early Season Tournaments Day 8: Things Get Started In The Bahamas, Orlando, And Anaheim

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Before I jump into the schedule for the three tournaments which begin on this Turkey Day, here's a very quick look at some of Tuesday's action.

The Maui Invitational crown went to Duke, 68-61 winners over Kansas. That's the Blue Devils' fifth Lahaina crown in five tries. Michigan took care of UCLA in the third place game, 69-53. Georgetown joins the Jayhawks and Wolverines in leaving Maui with a 2-1 record. The Hoyas held off Memphis, 91-88, to claim fifth. Seventh place went to Tennessee, who drubbed Chaminade, 86-60.

Illinois won the Cancun Challenge, as they had to come from behind to defeat Illinois State, 63-59. The consolation game went to Richmond, 58-53 victors over Rutgers.

Finally, I got to see two very different NIT Season Tip-Off semifinals at Madison Square Garden. Stanford opened the doubleheader with a resounding 82-67 win over Oklahoma State. The game was only that close because the Cardinal struggled against the Cowboys' press in the final 10 or so minutes of the second half. Johnny Dawkins' club will next play Syracuse on Friday. The Orange got a game from Virginia Tech, but used a strong second half to grab a 69-58 victory.

After the jump, a look at Thursday's slate.

Battle 4 Atlantis Quarterfinals

This new event, the richest of all early season tournaments, starts play in the Bahamas this afternoon. Keep in mind that the early afternoon winner will meet the early evening winner in the semis, with the two teams winning the second game of each doubleheader also meeting on Friday.

College of Charleston Cougars (3-0) vs. UCF Knights (2-1, 1-1 vs. Division 1), 2 p.m. ET (Versus)
The Cougars are looking to build after a pair of strong performance last week, a home win over Morehead State and an upset victory over Clemson. Meanwhile, UCF hasn't matched its strong start of last season, when they opened with 14 straight wins. So far, they've fallen at Florida State, a team they could meet again here and defeated High Point in their two games against Division I opposition.

Florida State Seminoles (4-0) vs. UMass Minutemen (4-0), approx. 4:30 p.m. ET (Versus)
The Seminoles have looked extremely impressive early this season, particularly on defense as you'd expect. On Sunday, Florida State held South Alabama to 39 points and no three-pointers. They could get a test from the Minutemen though, UMass held Boston College to 46 points in a blowout win on Monday night.

UNC Asheville Bulldogs (2-2, 0-2 vs. Division I) vs. Connecticut Huskies (4-0), approx. 7 p.m. ET (HDNet)
The Huskies have won 14 tournament games in a row (Maui, Big East, NCAA) and should make it 15 straight against the defending Big South champions, though the Bulldogs may make it interesting for a half or so.

Utah Utes (1-2, 0-2 vs. Division I) vs. Harvard Crimson (3-0, 2-1 vs. Division I), approx. 9:30 p.m. ET (HDNet)
It could be a very long season in Salt Lake City, as the Utes have only managed to defeat NAIA San Diego Christian by three so far. The Crimson, meanwhile, are 3-0 with a win over the Loyola Marymount team that stunned UCLA to open the season.

Semifinal picks: Charleston vs. Connecticut and Florida State vs. Harvard

Old Spice Classic Quarterfinals

This tournament features just one NCAA team from a season ago, which means its the most wide-open events out there. I wouldn't be surprised if any of these teams took home the trophy, though I do have doubts about Arizona State.

Texas Tech Red Raiders (3-0) vs. Indiana State Sycamores (4-0), 12 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Billy Gillispie's Red Raiders' have mastered the close victory so far this year, opening with a pair of close wins over Troy and North Texas before picking up a 12-point triumph over Stephen F. Austin on Sunday. Curiously, as of Tuesday morning, Texas Tech was no. 1 in the country in KenPom.com's eFG% rating. They'll need to showcase that efficiency against an Indiana State team that's tournament tested and who has also gotten into some close games early on, most notably a one-point win over Green Bay on Monday.

Minnesota Golden Gophers (4-0) vs. DePaul Blue Demons (2-0), approx. 2:30 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
The Golden Gophers have been solid in picking up four straight home wins, including ones over fellow Old Spice Classic participant Fairfield and defending Patriot League champion Bucknell Bison. They'll face a Blue Demon team that blew out Texas-Pan American Broncos and had a surprisingly difficult time (OK, maybe for anyone else) against Mississippi Valley St. Delta Devils.

Dayton Flyers (2-1) vs. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (3-0), 7 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Archie Miller's Flyers have picked up two easy wins (UNC Wilmington and Western Illinois) and a loss in a typically tight game with local rivals Miami, Ohio Redhawks. Tonight they play a Wake Forest team that has to be happy that they haven't picked up an embarrassing loss yet. A defeat at the hands of Dayton would most certainly not fit in this category.

Arizona State Sun Devils (1-2) vs. Fairfield Stags (2-2), approx. 9:30 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Fairfield has yet to play like a potential at-large contender, as they lost at home to Providence and at Minnesota. However, the Stags showed some potential in hammering Holy Cross on Sunday. Sydney Johnson's team could grab a win over a Big Six conference foe tonight; however, as the Sun Devils have struggled, following a close win over Montana State with losses to Pepperdine and New Mexico.

Semifinal picks: Indiana State vs. Minnesota and Dayton vs. Fairfield

76 Classic Quarterfinals

Boston College Eagles (1-2) vs. Saint Louis Billikens (3-0), 2 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
If Utah is the worst major conference team right now, Boston College isn't far behind, especially after getting blown out in consecutive games against in-state opponents (Holy Cross by 22 and UMass by 36). The Eagles could be in for a third straight beating, as the Billikens are fresh off a 12-point win over Washington that was nowhere as close as the score indicates.

Villanova Wildcats (3-0) vs. UC Riverside Highlanders (1-2, 0-2 vs. Division I), approx. 4:30 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Even though the Wildcats struggled to beat La Salle and Delaware in their last two games, they should have no trouble with the host Highlanders, who have yet to record a Division I win (though they did take Youngstown State to overtime on Friday).

New Mexico Lobos (2-1, 1-1 vs. Division I) vs. Santa Clara Broncos (2-1, 1-1 vs. Division I), 9 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
The Lobos are among the favorites in the Mountain West this season, but they've looked indifferent early on, losing at home to New Mexico State and struggling to get past a poor Arizona State team in Tempe. They'll look to get on track against a Santa Clara team that's only managed to beat NAIA UC Merced and San Jose State early on.

Oklahoma Sooners (2-0) vs. Washington State Cougars (2-1), approx. 11:30 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
The Sooners, who struggled to get past Idaho State in their opener then crushed Coppin State, will face their first real test of the season against a Washington State team that's already played (and lost to) Gonzaga. That's a fairly substantial step up in competition, even in November.

Semifinal picks: Saint Louis vs. Villanova and New Mexico vs. Washington State

Great Alaska Shootout Quarterfinals

Last night, Murray State and San Francisco advanced to the semifinals with two-point wins over Alaska-Anchorage (64-62 Racers) and Dartmouth Big Green (71-69 Dons), respectively.

Central Michigan Chippewas (2-1, 1-1 vs. Division I) vs. New Mexico State Aggies (3-0), 10:30 p.m. ET (Altitiude/MASN/CSN California/FCS Pacific)
The Aggies are off to a surprising start, as they already own wins over their two biggest rivals (New Mexico in Albuquerque and UTEP in Las Cruces) and are a serious threat to claim the Shootout title. The Chippewas, on the other hand, have played a trio of close games, wins over Pepperdine and Division II Ferris State and a double-overtime setback at the hands of Charlotte.

UC Irvine Anteaters (0-3) vs. Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles (2-1, 1-1 vs. Division I), approx. 1 a.m. ET (Altitiude/MASN/CSN California/FCS Pacific)
The Anteaters have yet to win this season, just missing out by a point at San Jose State in their second game, while the Golden Eagles have split a pair of games against Division I schools from Colorado, losing at Denver and winning at Colorado State.

Semifinal pick: New Mexico State vs. Southern Mississippi

As always, please feel free to discuss today's action in the comments.

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