Three teams will earn relatively meaningless trophies today, as the Hall of Fame Tip-Off concludes in Uncasville, Connecticut and the Charleston Classic and Puerto Rico Tip-Off resume after taking Saturday off.
Today is a rest day for the four teams in East Rutherford for the Legends Classic. Monday night, Vanderbilt will meet surprising Oregon State for the championship. The Commodores and N.C. State played an entertaining first semifinal, with Kevin Stallings' team pulling away late to claim an 86-79 victory. John Jenkins led the four Commodores that hit double figures by scoring 28 on the night on 10 of 18 from the floor. However, the second semifinal, a defensively-deficient 100-95 overtime win for Oregon State over Texas, was even more entertaining (as long as you are a fan of offense). Jared Cunningham scored a career-high 37, with 20 coming from the foul line, to help the Beavers to the win. J`Covan Brown scored 25 for the Longhorns. They'll next meet N.C. State in the consolation game.
After the jump, a rundown of all of Sunday's scheduled tournament action.
Puerto Rico Tip-Off Finals
Championship: Purdue Boilermakers vs. Alabama Crimson Tide, approx. 8 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
These two have met in each of the past two seasons, with the Boilermakers claiming a pair of wins (by 12 in Tuscaloosa and 17 in West Lafayette). The difference this year is that the two teams are a bit more evenly matched than in either of the past two campaigns. Both teams seem to be on their games early on, but Alabama's defense could be the difference.
Here's the lineup of the other four placement games, starting with the 3rd place game.
Charleston Classic Finals
Championship: Northwestern Wildcats vs. Seton Hall Pirates, approx. 8:30 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
This game might be a boost to the winner's at-large chances come March, emphasis on "might." The Wildcats have looked excellent on offense, while displaying a surprising amount of effort on the other end of the court in their time in South Carolina. Football fans would call it a "bend but don't break defense." Meanwhile, the Pirates' defense has saved them so far, though they are vulnerable to the three, which could mean trouble against Bill Carmody's club.
Here's the lineup for Sunday's other three Charleston Classic games. Note that the opening 7th place game between Western Kentucky and VCU is the first of a pair of back-to-back meetings between the two teams. They'll meet again at E.A. Diddle Arena in Bowling Green on Wednesday night.
Hall of Fame Tip-Off Finals
Championship: Kentucky Wildcats vs. Old Dominion Monarchs, 12 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
The Wildcats ran out to an expected 45-17 halftime advantage on Penn State in Saturday's semifinal and never looked back in claiming an 85-47 victory. The Monarchs won a game that was the exact opposite, a 68-66 overtime thriller over USF. Kent Bazemore led the way for Old Dominion with 23, including 12 from the foul line (on 14 attempts). This one should go to Kentucky with little drama, but you never know.
Consolation: Penn State Nittany Lions vs. South Florida Bulls, approx. 2:30 p.m. ET (ESPN3)
The good news for Penn State is that they don't have to play Kentucky again. The bad news is that USF will provide a formidable challenge. (And I can't believe I put "USF" (basketball) and "formidable challenge" in the same sentence either.)
Paradise Jam Semifinals
Fans in St. Thomas will see a surprise semifinal and one where the bracket sort of held form. I say "sort of" because Friday's Drake-Mississippi quarterfinal definitely seemed like the event's 4 vs. 5 coin-flip game on paper and on the court.
Norfolk State Spartans vs. TCU Horned Frogs, 6 p.m. ET (FSN)
Having not seen either one of these teams last season, or on Friday, and not expecting them to be here, I'm honestly not sure what to expect out of this one. Based on Friday, if the Spartans can clamp down on the Horned Frogs defensively and get to the line, their keys to success against Drexel, they'll grab another surprise win for the MEAC. However, if Mike Thorns has another big game, TCU could earn a surprise finals place.
Mississippi Rebels vs. Marquette Golden Eagles, approx. 8:30 p.m. ET (FSN)
Marquette looked like the clear favorite heading into this tournament, and this certainly remains the case after Friday's upsets. The Golden Eagles will have to be careful against Mississippi, however, as they displayed a tremendous amount of fight to get past Drake in Friday's second game. Yet, if the Rebels are as sloppy with the ball and as poor from the foul line as they were against the Bulldogs, Marquette may be able to make it to Monday night without much problem.
As always, please feel free to discuss today's action in the comments.