Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE
Happy Thanksgiving! If you get bored of football, or are ready to ignore it like me, three of the biggest early season tournaments tip off today with a full lineup of quarterfinals.
Thanksgiving Eve's main attraction on paper was the Maui Invitational final. However, that game that ended up being a bit of a disappointment from a competitive standpoint. Illinois used hot early shooting -- and took advantage of some Butler offensive struggles -- to build an 11-point halftime lead over on the way to a win and the trophy The Bulldogs did manage within five, thanks to an Illini dry spell. However, they simply didn't have enough firepower outside of Rotnei Clarke to overcome Brandon Paul and co.
North Carolina handily dispatched host Chaminade to finish third. Marquette and Texas finished their Maui experiences with victories while USC and Mississippi State depart with another defeat, with the Bulldogs leaving with an 0-3 mark.
The Cancun Challenge championship went to Wichita State. The Shockers got a big second half performance to overturn Iowa's 2-point halftime advantage to win by 12. Western Kentucky finished third with a convincing victory over DePaul. In the mid-major Mayan Division, the crown went to Gardner-Webb, 10-point winners over Austin Peay.
The NIT Season Tip-Off takes the holiday off, and believe me, all four semifinalists will need the day off after a pair of nailbiters on Wednesday night. When action concludes on Friday, Kansas State, who held off Delaware in the first semifinal, will take on Michigan, who got past Pittsburgh in a similar fashion, for the title in the late game. The afternoon's doubleheader begins with the consolation game between the Blue Hens and Panthers.
On to the holiday schedule...
Old Spice Classic Quarterfinals
at Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Full Bracket)
The Old Spice Classic begins its seventh edition with 2008 champion Gonzaga looking like a clear early favorite, particularly after the Bulldogs demolished West Virginia in a non-bracketed game during the Tip-Off Marathon. The Mountaineers' biggest challenger in the top half of the bracket should be Davidson, particularly as Vanderbilt lost a lot of talent from last year's squad that made the NCAA Round of 32.
West Virginia Mountaineers vs. Marist Red Foxes, 12 p.m. ET (ESPN2/ESPN3D)
Vanderbilt Commodores vs. Davidson Wildcats, approx. 2:30 p.m. ET (ESPN2/ESPN3D)
UTEP Miners vs. Oklahoma Sooners, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN2/ESPN3D)
Clemson Tigers vs. Gonzaga Bulldogs, approx. 9:30 p.m. ET (ESPN2/ESPN3D)
Semifinal Picks: West Virginia vs. Davidson; Oklahoma vs. Gonzaga
Battle 4 Atlantis Quarterfinals
at Paradise Island, Bahamas (Full Bracket)
The second edition of the Battle 4 Atlantis is without doubt the most stacked event of all 2012-13 early season tournaments, as every single one of these teams has a legitimate shot at the field of 68. In fact, I had all of them in my absurdly early 2013 tournament field. It's just a bit disappointing one of these teams will go 0-and-3 for the weekend.
Note that in the semifinals on Friday, the winners of the early and late game (possibly Missouri and Louisville) will meet in the nightcap, while the two middle winners (Duke and Memphis are the favorites) play in the first night game.
Missouri Tigers vs. Stanford Cardinal, 1 p.m. ET (AXS.tv)
Duke Blue Devils vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers, approx. 3:30 p.m. ET (AXS.tv)
Memphis Tigers vs. VCU Rams, 7 p.m. ET (NBC Sports Network)
Louisville Cardinals vs. Northern Iowa Panthers, approx. 9:30 p.m. ET (NBC Sports Network)
Semifinal Picks: Missouri vs. Louisville; Duke vs. Memphis
Directv Classic Quarterfinals
at Anaheim, Calif. (Full Bracket)
This Southern California event has a very Northern California feel to it, thanks to the presence of Cal and two future West Coast Conference rivals, St. Mary's and Pacific. The Tigers represent the host Big West in their final season of league membership.
Xavier, who blew out Butler in another Tip-Off Marathon matchup, is the favorite in Disneyland's shadow, while Drexel, a potential semifinal opponent for the Musketeers, really needs to run the table to have any shot at an at-large after early OT losses to Illinois State and Kent State. That will be a difficult task after Chris Fouch went down for the season with a broken ankle.
Pacific Tigers vs. Xavier Musketeers, 2 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
Drexel Dragons vs. St. Mary's Gaels, approx. 4:30 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Rice Owls vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, 9 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
Drake Bulldogs vs. California Golden Bears, approx. 11:30 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Semifinal Picks: Xavier vs. St. Mary's; Georgia Tech vs. Cal
Great Alaska Shootout Quarterfinals
at Anchorage, Alaska (Full Bracket)
The second semifinal in Anchorage will be set tonight, with Southland favorite Oral Roberts and the Atlantic 10's Charlotte favored to move on. Northeastern defeated UC Riverside in Wednesday's first quarterfinal, while Belmont had a far easier time with host Alaska-Anchorage than OVC rival Murray State did.
Semifinal Pick: Oral Roberts vs. Charlotte