Yesterday, the Syracuse Orange capped an impressive Battle 4 Atlantis run with a 74-67 win over the No. 25 Texas A&M Aggies in the Battle 4 Atlantis final. The tenth-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs opened the day in Paradise Island, Bahamas, by holding off No. 18 Connecticut Huskies in the third-place game, 73-70. The Michigan Wolverines joined the Bulldogs in picking up their second Bahamian win on Friday—John Beilein's team took down the Texas Longhorns by a 78-72 count. The Charlotte 49ers, representing host league Conference USA, leave the islands with an 0-3 mark, following their 71-66 loss to the Washington Huskies.
The eighth-ranked Villanova Wildcats claimed the NIT Season Tip-Off with a 69-52 win over the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, thanks to a strong second half run. But that finishing kick didn't quite match that of the Stanford Cardinal in the third-place game. The Cardinal topped the Arkansas Razorbacks 69-66 by scoring 21 of the game's last 22 points.
In the Las Vegas Invitational, the West Virginia Mountaineers dominated the San Diego State Aztecs in the championship game, 72-50. Surprisingly, the No. 14 California Golden Bears leave the desert with no wins, as they fell to the Richmond Spiders in the third-place game, 94-90.
Remember that the Advocare Invitational and Directv Wooden Legacy take the day off for ESPN's college football coverage. On late Sunday afternoon outside of Orlando, the Dayton Flyers and Xavier Musketeers will renew their rivalry in the Eastern event's title game. The 23rd-ranked Musketeers dominated the USC Trojans in the first semifinal, claiming an 87-77 win that wasn't anywhere near as close as the score indicated—Xavier led by a 54-27 score at the half. In the evening semifinal, the Flyers had to hold off a tenacious Monmouth Hawks squad, 73-70. King Rice's squad gets a rematch with a Trojan team that defeated them by 11 on November 16th for their trouble.
In Anaheim on Sunday night, the third-ranked Michigan State Spartans will take on the Providence Friars, not the 11th-rated Arizona Wildcats in the final. While the Spartans pulled away from the Boise State Broncos in the second half of the first semifinal in Fullerton on Friday afternoon, en route to a 77-67 victory, the Wildcats were stunned by Kris Dunn (19 points) and the Providence Friars in a thrilling 69-65 nightcap.
In one non-tournament game of note, the No. 15 Miami Hurricanes followed up their Puerto Rico Tip-Off crown with a 78-77 home loss on a buzzer beater to the Northeastern Huskies, former CAA rivals of Canes' head coach Jim Larranaga.
Now for a quick run through Saturday's key games.
Game information courtesy Matt College Sports on TV Website, which has even more games listed.
All times listed are Eastern, adjust accordingly.
Emerald Coast Classic Finals
Well, we didn't get an NCAA rematch between the Cyclones and Blazers after all. Iowa State will instead face an unimpressive Fighting Illini squad in a final that Steve Prohm's team should dominate. If not, maybe John Groce's squad will get a win it can build from.
Barclays Center Classic Final
On Friday night in Brooklyn, the Bearcats and Colonials respectively held off the Nebraska Cornhuskers and Tennessee Volunteers, setting up a consolation game that will be the rare meeting of power conference teams that isn't on national TV or streaming at all. In the final, expect defense to dominate, even in this age of new rules.
Corpus Christi Coastal Classic Final
After toppling the Southern Illinois Salukis and Portland Pilots, respectively, in Friday's semifinals, the pair meet for the fifth-straight season, with the Rams holding a 3-1 advantage in the previous games. The consolation game for this event isn't streaming either.
Great Alaska Shootout Final
On Friday night in Anchorage, the Rockets avenged their seven-point loss at the Loyola of Chicago Ramblers on Saturday by eliminating them by eight. The Blue Raiders then had their second straight close call, as they knocked off the UNC Asheville Bulldogs by two. The Shootout's three consolation games will only be on TV in Alaska itself.
Other Intriguing Options
Both former CAA rivals will participate in the Battle 4 Atlantis next season. The Monarchs won 73-67 in Norfolk last year—and the result was one of the wins that kept ODU in the at-large picture until Selection Sunday.
On the Bulldogs' November and December, this road trip and home game against Kansas State are what pass as profile builders.
The Bluejays, fresh off their Men Who Speak Up Main Event championship, welcome a Leatherneck team that remains undefeated after stunning the Wisconsin on Opening Night. Granted, two of WIU's five wins have come against non-Division I foes.
This will be the first real test for either the Billikens or Cardinals, both of whom stand at 4-0 with three wins in this round-robin event. Louisville has been the more impressive of the two so far this season, by a considerable margin.
The Bruins' visit is a significant home test for a Cougar team that's already lost at Long Beach State. Belmont's defense might not serve them well at the Marriott Center, however.