Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE
Thanksgiving Eve is highlighted by a surprise final in the Maui Invitational and the semifinals of the NIT Season Tip-Off.
Preseason No. 1 Indiana left the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn with the Legends Classic trophy, a prize only won after the Hoosiers survived their second stern test in as many nights. Cody Zeller and Jordan Hulls (17 points each) paced Indiana to a 82-72 overtime win over Georgetown, though Yogi Ferrell's seven points in the extra session - and the fact three Hoyas, including Otto Porter, fouled out in OT - helped considerably.
The raucous crowd in Brooklyn certainly made the game feel like a Regional Final, though most of them arrived late, meaning the building was noticeably quiet during much of UCLA's four-point win over Georgia in the third-place game. Shabazz Muhammad started and led the Bruins with 21-points. As for the Bulldogs, they have to be a little more hopeful, even with an 0-4 record in the event, thanks to the level of competitiveness the team showed in its two games away from Athens.
There was considerably less drama in Kansas City, where Kansas claimed the CBE Classic crown with a 73-59 win over Saint Louis. Travis Releford dominated the first half for the Jayhawks, scoring 21 of his 23 total points in the first 20 minutes, while Jeff Withey took control in the second, managing to score 15 of his 25 in the final 20 minutes to help stave off a late Billiken rally. Texas A&M claimed third with an Elston Turner three with two seconds left, topping Washington State.
Wednesday night sees finals in Cancun and Maui and the start of play for the Great Alaska Shootout and the NIT Season Tip-Off's final round.
Maui Invitational Championship
at Lahaina, Hawaii
So much for Maui being North Carolina's tournament to win, as Wednesday's final matchup is just a bit unexpected. Butler had a 29-point lead in the second half its semifinal with the Tar Heels, though the Bulldogs ended up giving away most of that advantage in the final five minutes. Still an 82-71 win and championship game berth is an impressive accomplishment for a team making its first trip to Maui, though we probably shouldn't be surprised as Brad Stevens' team claimed the 2010 Diamond Head Classic title over on Oahu.
Illinois had no such problems in its semifinals, as the Fighting Illini opened up an early lead and never looked back, topping host Chaminade by an 84-61 score.
Championship Pick: Butler
Maui Invitational Consolation
3rd/4th Place: North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Chaminade Silverswords, approx. 7:30 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
5th/6th Place: Marquette Golden Eagles vs. USC Trojans, approx. 5 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
7th/8th Place: Mississippi State Bulldogs vs. Texas Longhorns, 2:30 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
Cancun Challenge Finals
Thanks to a lineup devoid of national powers and a TV deal with CBS Sports Network, this event is a bit lost in the March shuffle. Still, it would probably be a good idea to check in on tonight's final which will feature Iowa, a team that is aiming to at least make it into the NCAA Tournament conversation, and Wichita State, a young squad that's looking to emulate last season's more veteran group that earned a No. 5 seed. In Tuesday's semifinals, the Shockers pulled away from Big East strugglers DePaul in the second half, while Iowa held off Western Kentucky to advance.
Championship: Wichita State Shockers vs. Iowa Hawkeyes, approx. 9:30 p.m. ET (CBS Sports Network)
Consolation: DePaul Blue Demons vs. Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, 7 p.m. ET (CBS Sports Network)
Championship Picks: Gardner-Webb and Wichita State
NIT Season Tip-Off Semifinals
at New York City (Full Bracket)
For the second time in three seasons, a Colonial Athletic Association team will be present in New York, and Delaware will look to at least emulate VCU's third-place finish, the launching point of a campaign that saw the Rams end up in the Final Four. To better VCU's result, the Blue Hens will need to find a way to stop a Kansas State team that rolled through its regional - the Wildcats defeated Division II Alabama-Huntsville by an amazing 87-26 score last Tuesday night. Note that the Chargers lost to Cleveland St. by a bucket in a consolation round matchup on Monday.
Michigan is the favorite in the night's marquee semifinal, though Pittsburgh will provide a stiff test, especially if the team that routed Lehigh to make it to New York shows up. But if the Panthers that needed overtime to beat a poor Oakland team on Saturday night makes an appearance in Madison Square Garden, the Wolverines should coast.
Final Pick: Kansas State vs. Michigan
Great Alaska Shootout Quarterfinals
at Anchorage, Alaska (Full Bracket)
Since the Great Alaska Shootout has both men's and women's events, the organizers split the quarterfinals into two consecutive night sessions. Wednesday's first game features a Northeastern squad that should be a factor in the CAA race taking on a UC Riverside team that has yet to defeat a Division I opponent. The nightcap, tipping very early on Thanksgiving morning on the East Coast, sees host Alaska-Anchorage face an Ohio Valley team in the quarterfinals for the second straight season. In 2011, the Seawolves just missed knocking off Murray State, yes, the team that started the season with 23 straight wins. Tonight, UAA plays OVC newcomer Belmont, who just happened to defeat Stanford on Sunday night.
Semifinal Pick: Northeastern vs. Belmont