Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE
Thanksgiving week Tuesday's main highlights: The Legends and CBE Classic finals and the Maui Invitational semifinals, featuring a couple of surprise qualifiers.
On Monday night, the Paradise Jam title went to New Mexico, 66-60 winners over Connecticut in a game that featured a broadcast interruption due to weather. That wasn't an ideal occurrence for CBS Sports Network, which picked up the tournament's rights from Fox Sports Net this season -- a move that was supposed to be a boost for the Virgin Islands event, thanks to FSN's patchwork nature.
However, CBS Sports Network was stuck running ads and public service announcements during the weather issue -- and a crucial part of the game -- and also while something remarkable was happening in Maui and on ESPNU.
Maui Invitational Semifinals
at Lahaina, Hawaii (Full Bracket)
Sure, the lucky few who got into the bandbox that is the Lahaina Civic Center on Monday saw a blowout end each session. North Carolina trounced a Mississippi State team that looks destined to finish 13th or 14th in the SEC to end the afternoon, while it was Illinois who looked more like a breakout team than USC in Monday's last quarterfinal. Yet, I don't think the fans will mind because of the events that transpired in each session's early game ... well, except for the ones in Marquette and Texas colors.
The quadruple-header opened with a thriller, as Butler advanced to today's semifinals with a 72-71 win over Marquette, courtesy of a Rotnei Clarke three at the buzzer. In the night session's opener, attendees got to see a certified Stendhal, as host Chaminade won for only the seventh time in the Maui Invitational's 30 years, and for the second time over a Rick Barnes-coached team, as they outclassed Texas to move on.
Maui certainly looks like UNC's tournament to lose, but given what happened on Monday, I wouldn't bet the house on that outcome.
Final Pick: North Carolina vs. Illinois
Maui Invitational Consolation
Legends Classic Finals
Tonight's final at the Barclays Center may not be the one most anticipated, but it should still be a competitive game. Indiana looked like a rather unconvincing preseason national title contender against struggling Georgia in game one, while it was Georgetown's Otto Porter, not UCLA frosh Shabazz Muhammad, who was the star of the night in the Hoyas convincing win over the Bruins. Of course, Muhammad will undoubtedly improve with more practice and playing time, starting with UCLA's game against Georgia this evening.
Final Picks: Indiana over Georgetown, just; UCLA over Georgia
CBE Hall of Fame Classic Finals
at Kansas City
I honestly didn't spend much time watching the CBE semifinals because they simply weren't competitive, particularly when compared to the other options available in primetime last night. From what I did see though, Saint Louis' 21-point margin of victory over Texas A&M didn't do the Billikens' performance justice, and Washington State barely got over 40 in its semifinal loss to Kansas.
Given SLU's inconsistency early this season, and the location of the game, Kansas should be able to claim the trophy they failed to earn in 2008.
Final Picks: Kansas over Saint Louis; Texas A&M over Washington State
Cancun Challenge Semifinals
at Cancun (Full Schedule)
Gardner-Webb, who beat DePaul and led Iowa at halftime en route to a 9-point loss, looks to be the team with momentum in the mid-major Mayan Division. As for the host schools' Riviera bracket, Wichita State, who won a thriller at VCU a week ago, and Iowa are the clear favorites to advance to Wednesday's championship game.
Final Picks: Western Carolina vs. Gardner-Webb; Wichita State vs. Iowa