The Sunday before Thanksgiving featured three tournament finals - one surprise sandwiched by two slightly more predictable results. First, Ohio State got 31 points from Deshaun Thomas as they rolled past Washington in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off championship. Earlier, Loyola, Md. topped Albany in the mid-major title game, thanks to a Dylon Cormier old-fashioned three-point play in the dying moments.
In game two of ESPN2's championship tripleheader, another OSU, Oklahoma State provided one of the shocks of the season by absolutely blowing out preseason ACC favorite N.C. State in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off decider. Le`Bryan Nash and Marcus Smart both broke the 20-point barrier for the Cowboys, who may just find themselves a major factor in the Big 12 race and in my next bracket projection. Finally, Colorado used a second half push to get by Murray State in the Charleston Classic title game.
There's only one final on the Monday schedule, but if it happens to be half as good as the semifinals that set it up last night, it's sure to be a must-watch, even on a fairly compelling night of basketball elsewhere.
Paradise Jam Championship
At St. Thomas, V.I.
The lucky few who checked out the semifinals at the University of the Virgin Islands on Sunday night saw two of the most entertaining and tension-filled games of the season. New Mexico booked its final place with a Tony Snell three-pointer with just 1.8 seconds left, the result of a poorly-timed George Mason turnover. The Lobos will play UConn, as expected, though the Huskies needed an extra 10 minutes, and 23 late Shabazz Napier points (of 29 total), to relegate in-state rival Quinnipiac to the consolation game.
Paradise Jam Consolation
3rd/5th Place: George Mason Patriots vs. Quinnipiac Bobcats, approx. 7:30 p.m. ET (CBS Sports Network)
4th/6th Place: UIC Flames vs. Iona Gaels, approx. 5 p.m. ET (streaming for free on the event's website)
7th/8th Place: Mercer Bears vs. Wake Forest Demon Deacons, 2:30 p.m. ET (streaming for free on the event's website)
Maui Invitational Quarterfinals
at Lahaina, Hawaii (Full Bracket)
While action wraps up in America's Caribbean version of paradise, things will just be getting started in the middle of the Pacific. This season's Maui field isn't as packed as the 2011 version, but there is some potential. However, I'd advise you to focus on the first and fourth quarterfinals on Maui today.
Butler Bulldogs vs. Marquette Golden Eagles, 3:30 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Mississippi State Bulldogs vs. North Carolina Tar Heels, approx. 6 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Texas Longhorns vs. Chaminade Silverswords, 9:30 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
USC Trojans vs. Illinois Fighting Illini, approx. 12 a.m. ET (ESPN2)
Legends Classic Semifinals
at Brooklyn (Full Bracket)
While you're busy ignoring the middle pair of Maui games (if you're a neutral at least), you might want to decide to check out the evening's proceedings in Brooklyn. Game one is another that's probably safe to ignore, as consensus preseason top three ndiana should handle a Georgia team that managed to lose both of its home games in this event (to Youngstown State and Southern Mississippi), but the nightcap will see the long awaited and highly anticipated debut of the nation's number one recruit, Shabazz Muhammad, for UCLA against Georgetown.
CBE Hall of Fame Classic Semifinals
at Kansas City, Mo. (Full Bracket)
Given that Saint Louis, a trendy pick in the Atlantic 10, has struggled early, losing to Santa Clara in one of the team's two home games for this event, it would be a major surprise if Kansas didn't win this tournament, especially when you consider its being played in what's practically the Jayhawks' second home. There simply isn't a team in this field that resembles the Syracuse team that topped Kansas the last time they entered this event, back in 2009. However, you can bet Texas A&M would like to show its a significantly improved outfit than the squad that disappointed in its final Big 12 season.