The first two ESPN-owned tournaments will crown champions this evening. Even though the trophies are meaningless, the games certainly count, especially since they'll provide the winners with another valuable neutral site win to add to their file for March. It also doesn't hurt that this pair of contests feature teams who are looking to surpass preseason expectations.
So clear some time to close your weekend with some college basketball.
Yes, even over an NFL game.
Fine. If you must, flip over during stoppages.
Puerto Rico Tip-Off Final
Minnesota vs. West Virginia, approx. 8 p.m. ET (ESPN2): Casey Mitchell scored 31, including a game winning 3 with 3.8 left to get the Mountaineers here. For the Gophers, Blake Hoffarber was the star, scoring 19. Both these teams have shown they can do the dirty work on defense. As for a prediction, Minnesota's bigs may be the difference in this one, even with the length Bob Huggins' squad possesses. My revised pick: Minnesota
Charleston Classic Final
Georgetown vs. NC State, approx. 8 p.m. ET (ESPNU): The Hoyas shot well again Friday against Wofford, even if they didn't need as many three-balls as they did Thursday. The Wolfpack, meanwhile, will again miss Tracy Smith (knee). They had trouble shaking the George Mason, until they got a 17-2 run late to put the game away. NC State did get another balanced performance, and Lorenzo Brown, Javier Gonzalez, and Ryan Harrow will definitely give Austin Freeman, Chris Wright, and Jason Clark a battle in the backcourt tonight. Remember that Tracy Smith is out for the Wolfpack (he'll be gone three weeks with a knee injury), which reduces their frontcourt depth. With a win, the Wolfpack will deliver the ACC its third straight Charleston crown. My original pick: Georgetown
After the jump, I'll take a look what else is out there on this busy Sunday before Thanksgiving: the consolation games for these events, the Paradise Jam semifinals, and a lot of other action tipping off from coast-to-coast.
Paradise Jam Semifinals
Old Dominion vs. Clemson, 6 p.m. ET (FCS Pacific): The Monarchs had a closer call than expected against St. Peter's, primarily because they couldn't take care of the ball (16 turnovers).They'll need to take care of the ball because the Tigers will take advantage of any mistakes,a big problem if Clemson shoots as well as they did Friday.
Seton Hall vs. Xavier, 8:30 p.m. ET (FCS Pacific): The Pirates won a thriller against Alabama Friday night, a game that wouldn't have been nearly so close had they shot better than 60 percent from the foul line. However, the Hall will now have to play without Jeremy Hazell for the next four to six weeks after he broke his wrist. He was simply on fire Friday night, scoring 27, hitting half of his FGs and 5 of his 6 three attempts. That news gives a Musketeer team that's also struggling with injuries more hope than they likely had after their quarterfinal, when they had just enough firepower to get away from Iowa late.
Puerto Rico Tip-Off Consolation
7th place: Nebraska vs. Hofstra, 10:30 a.m. ET (ESPNU): The Cornhuskers have played two close games, but will really need to start making some outside shots to have a chance. Of course, if the Pride miss as many foul shots (12 of 25) as they did in their collapse against WKU Friday night, it won't matter. It might also help if they got more from Charles Jenkins' supporting cast, since he scored 27 of Hofstra's 60 points.
5th place: Davidson vs. Western Kentucky, approx 1 p.m. ET (ESPNU): Unlike Nebraska, Wildcats got things going from outside, which propelled them to the win Friday. They'll need to stay hot, as 1) WKU is a team that likes to shoot it from beyond the arc and 2) the Hilltoppers have the advantage inside.
3rd place: Vanderbilt vs. North Carolina, 5:30 p.m. ET (ESPN2): John Jenkins had to take on much of the load for the Commodores in their semifinal loss, scoring 27. Vandy will need Jeffrey Taylor, who battled foul trouble all day Friday, on the floor to grab third in this event. Likewise, the Tar Heels will need their entire team, including preseason All-American Harrison Barnes, to play more like they did on Thursday against Hofstra, as opposed to sloppy performance put in against Minnesota Friday night.
Charleston Classic Consolation
7th place: USC Upstate vs. East Carolina, 11:30 a.m. ET (no TV): Expect the Pirates to finally put a solid 40 minutes together against a poor Spartans squad.
5th place: Coastal Carolina vs. Charlotte, approx. 2 p.m. ET (no TV): The 49ers have already dropped one game to a Big South team this season, falling to Gardner-Webb in their opener.
3rd place: George Mason vs. Wofford, 5:30 p.m. ET (ESPNU): These two may have had disappointing semifinal experiences, but a quality win is certainly up for grabs in this contest. The big question is whether the Patriots will be able to run against the Terriers.
In other nationally televised action today...
Evansville at Indiana, 1 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network): One of these two will lose for the first time this afternoon.
William & Mary at Syracuse, 2 p.m. ET (Big East Network/TWCS/ESPN3): Somewhat surprisingly, the Tribe have yet to win this season. The Orange, meanwhile, have had no trouble winning; it's just slow starts that have their fans concerned.
Miami (FL) at Rutgers, 2 p.m. ET (Big East Network/MASN/Comcast Network Philly/SNY): The Hurricanes will look to build on their strong performance against Memphis on Tuesday, while the Scarlet Knights look to win their second straight at the RAC.
Georgia Southern at USF (South Padre Invitational Preliminary Round), 2 p.m. ET (Big East Network/Bright House SN/ESPN3): The Bulls have a chance against the Eagles, until they're inevitably invited to Conference USA at some point before tip-off.
Liberty at Texas Tech (South Padre Invitational Preliminary Round), 2 p.m. ET (Texas Tech SN/ESPN3): The Red Raiders are looking to rebound after a loss at North Texas, while the Flames are in search of their first win over a Division I opponent.
Morehead State at Florida, 3:30 p.m. ET (Sun Sports/FSN Rocky Mountain/FS South/FS Houston/ESPN3): The Gators will look to grow again after a good showing against North Carolina A&T Thursday evening.
LSU vs. Memphis (at Tupelo), 5 p.m. ET (CBS College Sports): The Bayou Bengals loss to Nicholls State was in a game that wasn't part of this round-robin, so they can still win the title if they knock off Josh Pastner's team tonight.
Northern Colorado at Arizona (Las Vegas Invitational Preliminary Round), 5 p.m. ET (KWBA/FS Arizona/FCS Atlantic): The Wildcats handled New Mexico State Thursday night by a slightly surprising margin. The Bears will look to build upon their Tuesday win over Wyoming.
Middle Tennessee at Auburn, 6 p.m. ET (CSS/CST/ESPN3): This is the conclusion of a three-day round-robin event that helped open Auburn Arena.
For broadcast information on the large number of local and regional telecasts today, like Virginia Tech at UNC Greensboro and Wagner at Stony Brook, visit Matt Sarz's College Sports on TV site. Another good resource is the schedule page at BB State.
As for these games, you'll have to browse the wilds of the Internet to follow them...
- Loyola Marymount vs. Rider (Hall of Fame Tip-Off), 12 p.m. ET
- USC vs. New Mexico State (Hall of Fame Tip-Off), approx. 2:30 p.m. ET
- Gardner-Webb at Michigan (Legends Classic Regional Round), 2 p.m. ET
- Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at Ohio, 2 p.m. ET
- Iowa State vs. Creighton in Des Moines, 3 p.m. ET: This is the key matchup in another round-robin event.
- Austin Peay at Southern Illinois (Chicago Invitational Preliminary Round), 3 p.m. ET
- Illinois State at Arkansas-Little Rock, 3 p.m. ET
- TCU vs. Bradley (Hall of Fame Tip-Off), approx. 5 p.m. ET
- San Diego State vs. IUPUI (CBE Classic "subregional" round), 5:30 p.m. ET: This is the first of two neutral-site meetings between these two on the schedule.
- Texas Southern at Oregon State, 7:30 p.m. ET
- Green Bay at Miami (Ohio) (CBE Classic "subregional" round), approx. 8 p.m. ET
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