Both Legends Classic games on Tuesday night required an extra five minutes to find a winner. Marquette claimed the title, knocking off Arizona State 78-73. Earlier, North Carolina State defeated LSU in the third-place game, after overtime, and after holding Tiger phenom Ben Simmons to four points ... and 16 rebounds and 10 assists.
The loss was a bad one for the Bayou Bengals' NCAA hopes, however. Remember, I ranked LSU's non-conference schedule 13th out of 14 SEC teams. They won't play a likely bid contender until SEC play begins, though they do face Oklahoma in the conference's challenge with the Big 12.
In the CBE Hall of Fame Classic championship game, preseason No. 1 North Carolina, now ranked ninth and still without injured point guard Marcus Paige, had to rally to top Kansas State, 80-70. Justin Jackson led the Tar Heels in Paige's absence, netting 22 on the night. Northwestern held off Missouri in the consolation game, 67-62.
We had another upset in the HoopHall Invitational, as Ohio State fell again, this time to Louisiana Tech, 82-74. The undefeated Bulldogs handled UT Arlington—conquerors of both the Buckeyes and Memphis Tigers—by an 80-68 score on November 17th. Remember, Ohio State and Memphis will meet in the event's showcase game on Friday in Miami. Seems to me the showcase already happened (though Louisiana Tech won't visit Memphis until December 1st).
Valparaiso claimed the title in the round-robin it participated in with Iona (who the Crusaders steamrolled on the season's first Sunday) and Oregon State, along with some non-Division I participants. Valpo topped the Beavers in Corvallis, 63-57, in a game that only really got that close in the final couple of minutes. Considering Bryce Drew's team couldn't win at Oregon on Sunday, their three best wins will likely be Iona, Rhode Island, and Oregon State. Is that going to be enough for them to earn an at-large if they fail to claim the Horizon League auto bid? Probably not, but 2012 Iona, with a similar schedule, got in to close a season that wasn't quite as competitive as this one.
Thanksgiving Eve has us building to a boil...
Game information courtesy Matt College Sports on TV Website, which has even more games listed.
All times listed are Eastern, adjust accordingly.
Battle 4 Atlantis Quarterfinals
No. 10 Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. Washington Huskies, 12 p.m. (ESPN2)
Syracuse Orange vs. Charlotte 49ers, approx. 2:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
Texas Longhorns vs. No. 25 Texas A&M Aggies, 7 p.m. (AXSTV)
Michigan Wolverines vs. No. 18 Connecticut Huskies, approx. 9:30 p.m. (AXSTV)
Over the past three seasons, the Battle 4 Atlantis has challenged the Maui Invitational for the title of most prestigious early season tournament. The 2015 edition, full of rivalries and the potential for more, continues that trend. However, the split in broadcasting between the nearly universally-available ESPN networks and AXSTV hurts the Bahamas tournament, particularly on its first day, where the latter network airs games that aren't part of the consolation bracket. That means most of the country won't get to see the first basketball meeting between bitter rivals Texas and Texas A&M since the Aggies bolted the Big 12 before the 2012-13 season or the tantalizing matchup between Michigan and UConn squads that look to rebound from down 2014-15 campaigns.
Note that the winners and losers from each game in the daytime doubleheader will meet the corresponding winner or loser for each game in the evening one. Thus, it's possible for Texas to meet Washington on Thursday, a little less than two weeks after the pair played in Shanghai to open their respective seasons. It's also possible for Syracuse to meet former Big East rival UConn on Thanksgiving Day.
To me, the two games on AXSTV, which I won't get to see, are the ones that might be the most entertaining.
Gulf Coast Showcase Finals
All games are streaming on the BD Global Sports YouTube channel.
7th/8th Place: Milwaukee Panthers vs. Central Michigan Chippewas, 12 p.m.
5th/6th Place: Duquesne Dukes vs. Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, approx. 2 p.m.
3rd/4th Place: Pepperdine Waves vs. Drake Bulldogs, 6 p.m.
Championship: Murray State Racers vs. Weber State Wildcats, approx. 8:30 p.m.
The Gulf Coast Showcase has been filled with close games and shocks—witness MAC favorite Central Michigan's presence in the seventh-place game. Murray State, who famously ran through the OVC regular season perfect and fell to Belmont in a heartbreaker with the auto bid on the line, can claim a title tonight, but they'll have to get past a Weber State team that's on the rebound from a rare bad game to do it.
Cancun Challenge Finals
Both games are streaming on the Triple Crown Sports YouTube channel.
South Dakota State remains the favorite to win this bracket, and based on how the teams in the Riviera Division have looked, it's a shame they won't get a shot at Maryland. In the third-place game, either the Broncs or Huskies will claim their first Division I win of the season. (Rider is actually winless outright.)
Both championship game participants got more than they bargained for in their semifinals, with TCU and Illinois State leading URI and Maryland, respectively, for much of the evening. But the Atlantic 10 and Big Ten favorites pulled themselves together late, and will meet as expected tonight. The Rams, who could use a boost with E.C. Matthews lost for the season, can really help their at-large cause out with a win over a Terp team that is not quite the second-best team in the country right now.
Men Who Speak Up Main Event Finals
Both games are streaming on the BD Global Sports YouTube channel.
Amazingly, the defending SWAC champions are seeking their first win of the season against a UTSA team that did manage to win at Southern Utah already. In the Middleweight final, Howard, who could contend in the MEAC this season, looks to pick up its third straight victory, while UCA aims to build on its first, which came on Monday afternoon.
Both the Minutemen and Bluejays cruised in their Monday night semifinals, while it looks like Rutgers and Clemson could be in for very long seasons. The loser of their consolation matchup will almost be behind the 8-ball already from an at-large perspective.
Maui Jim Maui Invitational Finals
7th/8th Place: St. John's Red Storm vs. Chaminade Silverswords, 2:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
5th/6th Place: Indiana Hoosiers vs. UNLV Runnin' Rebels, approx. 5 p.m. (ESPN2)
3rd/4th Place: Wake Forest Demon Deacons vs. UCLA Bruins, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
Championship: No. 19 Vanderbilt Commodores vs. No. 5 Kansas Jayhawks, approx. 10 p.m.(ESPN)
Win or lose, Kansas and Vanderbilt can leave Lahaina satisfied, as each has looked impressive in rolling through the bracket on Monday and Tuesday. As for the four teams that enter their respective consolation games with a win and a loss, Wake would be the happiest departing with two wins, since they were able to knock off Indiana on Monday. The Hoosiers, UNLV, and UCLA will rue lost experiences on Monday or Tuesday.
The championship game should be a terrific test for both the Commodores and Jayhawks, who haven't been tested at all on Monday and Tuesday. Both are playing efficiently on offense and on lockdown defensively, so tonight's game should be highly entertaining. I'm curious to see how KU responds to Vandy's size though.
Great Alaska Shootout Quarterfinals
The Rockets collapsed to defeat when they visited the Ramblers in a non-bracketed game for this event on Saturday—I would be shocked if they didn't see a rematch on their calendar for Friday.
Other Intriguing Entrees
The runners-up of the Naismith Bracket host the Springfield Bracket champions in this event's final game of the season.
Ron Hunter's Panthers no longer feature his son R.J., but they might be capable of giving the Rebels a game ... although this will be Georgia State's first game against Division I opposition this season.
The Bulldogs ran out of gas at SMU on Sunday afternoon, so a trip to Cameron might be a bridge too far for the Ivy favorites.
Since falling to Southern Illinois on opening night, the Falcons have rattled off three in a row. But all of those wins came at home against teams that aren't on the level of even a middling Pac-12 team like the Buffaloes.