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All field graphics by Chris Dobbertean using logos from Sportslogos.net.
TV/streaming info from the event websites and MattSarzSports.com. All times are Eastern.
Well, that was certainly not what was expected. Maybe what was hoped for, but not what was expected!
The Gonzaga Bulldogs (6-0) opened up a lead on the Duke Blue Devils (5-1) and held on for dear life to claim the 2018 Maui Jim Maui Invitational title, while handing Mike Krzyzewski’s club its first ever loss in Lahaina in 18 games. Mark Few’s Bulldogs, who led by double-digits on several occasions and by eight at the half, escaped with an 89-87 contest, their first-ever victory over an AP top-ranked team. This game was a worthy National Championship preview.
GONZAGA gets the win with superb defense against Duke. pic.twitter.com/3Cs3MhX3mU— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) November 22, 2018
Both squads put on a show in the noon Hawai’i time tip.
Zach Norvell just did some Michael Jordan shit.— Ricky O'Donnell (@SBN_Ricky) November 21, 2018
Between Norvell and Talen Horton-Tucker, Chicago is taking over Maui pic.twitter.com/DE0ffG3ZvC
RJ Barrett DOESN'T CARE who is down there near the rim. pic.twitter.com/XKiDO9DUWS— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) November 21, 2018
Rui Hachimura won tournament MVP honors after a 20-point, seven-rebound performance, while Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett combined for 45 for the Blue Devils.
The Auburn Tigers (5-1) claimed third place in the final game of the tournament, 73-57 over the Arizona Wildcats (4-1). The finale was an odd game that featured boatloads of offensive fouls, 11 in the first half alone.
Fifth place went to the dangerous Iowa State Cyclones (5-1), 87-57, over the San Diego State Aztecs (3-2). Marial Shayok led the ‘Clones with 21, while Michael Jacobson scored 19. The Xavier Musketeers (3-3) will leave Maui with a win, while sharing a flight back to the Mainland with the team they defeated 83-74 in the seventh-place game, the Illinois Fighting Illini (2-3).
The Middleweight title went to the WAC’s Utah Valley Wolverines (3-3), 87-72 victors over the Long Beach State 49ers (2-4). Earlier, Iona Gaels (2-2) held off the Hartford Hawks (1-5), 80-75, to take the all-Eastern third-place matchup.
Meet champions of 2018 #CaymanIslandsClassic ️— CaymanIslandsClassic (@CaymanClassic) November 22, 2018
FINAL: @BluejayMBB 87, #16 ranked @ClemsonMBB 82
☑️#Bluejays shot 55.8% (29-52), making 10 treys
☑️Sophomore guard Ty-Shon Alexander with career-high 36 pos. pic.twitter.com/x1kHFGavR4
Ty-Shon Alexander dominated for the Jays, scoring 36 points on 9/16 shooting from the floor 7/12 from three, and 11/11 from the foul line.
Creighton’s win is great news for a Big East that’s had an underwhelming start to the season, particularly with Clemson being so highly regarded heading into 2018-19.
In the third-place matchup, the Georgia State Panthers (4-2) got 24 points (including seven threes) from Malik Benlevi in their 91-67 rout over their in-state rivals, the Georgia Bulldogs (3-3). The Panthers last defeated the Bulldogs 17 years ago.
The fifth-place game was a thriller, with the Illinois State Redbirds (4-2) holding off the Boise State Broncos (2-3), 73-70, thanks to 28 from Milik Yarbrough. In the opening contest of the day, the Akron Zips (4-2) topped the St. Bonaventure Bonnies (1-5), 61-49, to finish seventh.
Then again, if the Panthers play like this consistently, maybe they won’t finish 14th or 15th in the ACC after all.
In the Vancouver Showcase, the Minnesota Golden Gophers (5-0) finished with a perfect 3-0 record, thanks to a narrow 68-66 win over the Washington Huskies (4-2). Gabe Kalscheur pushed the Gophers across the finish line of a game the Huskies led pretty much the entire way.
The Bradley Braves (5-1) took the Riviera Division of the Cancun Challenge, 59-56, over a Penn State Nittany Lions (3-2) team that simply could not make a three. Pat Chambers’ squad went 4-of-27 from beyond the arc, and it seemed like the majority of those misses happened in the final two minutes.
The Jacksonville State Gamecocks (2-3) topped the North Florida Ospreys (2-4), 83-78, preventing Matt Driscoll’s team from repeating its 2014 Mayan Division title. In the consolation game, the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles (4-1) rebounded from their first loss of the season by slipping past the Western Carolina Catamounts (1-5), 68-63.
While the win should give the Eagles some confidence heading into ACC play, the Ramblers are in real trouble should they need an at-large bid in the event they don’t win Arch Madness—and that’s not a given considering the Valley looks improved this season.
Wyoming Cowboys (2-4), meanwhile, claimed third with a 68-66 comeback victory over the Richmond Spiders (2-3). The Pokes trailed by 11 in the second half, but rallied to deliver another blow to the A 10’s early season record.
The Gulf Coast Showcase championship game saw the ranks of the undefeated shrink by yet another team.
Much like in the Cayman Islands third-place game, the mid-major came out on top of this event’s in-state showdown for bronze, as the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns (3-3) defeated the Tulane Green Wave (2-3) for the first time in 83 years, 68-61.
RING THE BELL! Behind a career-high 26 points from Marcus Stroman, @RaginCajunsMBB defeats Tulane, 68-61, and claims third-place at the @GCShowcase— Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns® Men's Basketball (@RaginCajunsMBB) November 22, 2018
First win for Louisiana over its in-state rival since Dec. 17, 1935#GeauxCajuns ⚜️ pic.twitter.com/5ydkK62z6s
While Mike Daum became the South Dakota State Jackrabbits‘ (5-2) all-time leading scorer on Tuesday night, it was David Jenkins Jr. who was the star of the Summit champs’ 78-65 fifth-place win over Colorado State Rams (4-2). He had 32 on an afternoon when Daum was helf to just 11. In the seventh-place game, the UTSA Roadrunners (1-5) won their first game of the season, 76-65, over the FGCU Eagles (2-5), who finish a very disappointing 0-3.
Tip Time Schedule
Thursday, November 22
|Tip Time (ET)||Event||Round||Matchup||TV/Streaming||KenPom Fan Match Rank|
|Tip Time (ET)||Event||Round||Matchup||TV/Streaming||KenPom Fan Match Rank|
|1:30 p.m.||Battle 4 Atlantis||Championship Semifinals||Oklahoma vs. Wisconsin||ESPN||3|
|1:30 p.m.||AdvoCare Invitational||Quarterfinals||Villanova vs. Canisius||ESPN2||15|
|1:30 p.m.||Las Vegas Holiday Invitational||Semifinals||UMass vs. Southern Illinois||FS1||9|
|2:30 p.m.||Wooden Legacy||Quarterfinals||La Salle vs. Miami (Fla.)||ESPNU||17|
|4 p.m. (approx.)||Battle 4 Atlantis||Championship Semifinals||Dayton vs. Virginia||ESPN||10|
|4 p.m. (approx.)||AdvoCare Invitational||Quarterfinals||Oklahoma State vs. Memphis||ESPN2||4|
|4 p.m. (approx.)||Las Vegas Holiday Invitational||Semifinals||Tulsa vs. Nevada||FS1||12|
|5 p.m. (approx.)||Wooden Legacy||Quarterfinals||Northwestern vs. Fresno State||ESPNU||7|
|7 p.m.||AdvoCare Invitational||Quarterfinals||College of Charleston vs. LSU||ESPNU||5|
|7 p.m.||Battle 4 Atlantis||Consolation Semifinals||Florida vs. Stanford||ESPN2||6|
|7:30 p.m.||Las Vegas Invitational||Semifinals||North Carolina vs. Texas||FS1||1|
|9 p.m.||Wooden Legacy||Quarterfinals||Seton Hall vs. Grand Canyon||ESPN3||8|
|9:30 p.m. (approx.)||AdvoCare Invitational||Quarterfinals||UAB vs. Florida State||ESPN2||16|
|9:30 p.m. (approx.)||Battle 4 Atlantis||Consolation Semifinals||Butler vs. Middle Tennessee||ESPNU||13|
|10 p.m. (approx.)||Las Vegas Invitational||Semifinals||UCLA vs. Michigan State||FS1||2|
|11:30 p.m. (approx.)||Wooden Legacy||Quarterfinals||Hawai'i vs. Utah||ESPN2||14|
In Wednesday’s opening quarterfinal, Oklahoma outplayed Florida and picked up a 65-60 win for its troubles. Christian James had a breakout game for the Sooners scoring 17 and grabbing 8 boards, outdoing the Gators’ own breakout performer, Dontay Bassett—who had 14 points of his own including the first two three-pointers of his career. But it was Lon Kruger’s squad that brought the thunder and advanced to this afternoon’s semifinals.
So, in Thanksgiving’s first game of the day, Oklahoma will meet Wisconsin in a rematch of the 2014 Atlantis title game that the Badgers won 69-56. The Badgers clamped down on Stanford over the last 12 minutes of the second game of the afternoon session, winning 62-46, sending the Cardinal to a consolation game that will be a rematch of last season’s PK80 quarterfinal with Florida. Naturally, Ethan Happ led the way for Wisconsin with 16 points and 12 rebounds.
On a bad day for the Atlantic 10, Dayton was a bright spot. The Flyers defeated Butler, 69-64, to advance to Thursday’s second semifinal. Jalen Crutcher (20 points) was the Flyers’ star in the win.
But the good times might not last all that long for Dayton, as Virginia awaits in this afternoon’s second semi. The Cavaliers let Middle Tennessee get within eight midway through the second half before pulling away, 74-52.
Villanova Wildcats (2-2) vs. Canisius Golden Griffins (1-2), 1:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
Oklahoma State Cowboys (2-1) vs. Memphis Tigers (2-1), approx. 4 p.m. (ESPN/2)
College of Charleston Cougars (3-1) vs. LSU Tigers (4-0), 7 p.m. (ESPN2/U)
UAB Blazers (3-0) vs. Florida State Seminoles (3-0), approx. 9:30 p.m. (ESPN2/U)
While Canisius (representing the host MAAC), College of Charleston, and UAB are all making their first trips to the Walt Disney World Resort, the other five teams playing in the 2018 AdvoCare Invitational are all returnees. Florida State won the 2009 Old Spice Classic, while Villanova lost a 69-68 heartbreaker to N.C. State in the 2007 final—the tournament’s second edition. As for the other three, they all reached at least the semifinals of 2013’s edition, something that can’t happen in 2018, as that event’s finalists, Oklahoma State and Memphis play in this season’s first round. Those 2013-14 Tigers, featuring Joe Jackson, Shaq Goodwin, and Geron Johnson, among others, defeated Marcus Smart and the Cowboys by a 73-68 score, avenging the 21-point loss suffered in a non-bracketed game in Stillwater 12 days earlier. As for LSU, it lost to Memphis in the 2013 semifinals before topping Butler in OT by a bucket.
Expect things to go just a bit differently five years later, and not just because Memphis and Oklahoma State meet this afternoon. For starters, all three of those teams have head coaches that are in either their first (Anfernee Hardaway at Memphis) or second seasons (Will Wade at LSU and Mike Boynton at OSU). Plus, defending national champ Villanova and Elite Eight squad Florida State enter this tournament as the favorites. However, with the Wildcats having already dropped two home games, the winner of that 2013 championship game rematch suddenly has a real shot at reaching 2018’s title game out of the top half. As for the bottom half, the Seminoles’ most likely challenger looks to be the Bayou Bengals, who have already defeated Memphis in a non-bracketed game, 85-76 back on November 13th.
Previously, the Las Vegas Invitational featured an afternoon session with a quartet of low-major squads playing out a bracket that was neither televised nor streamed. This season, those visiting squads played exclusively on-campus—and not even in a bracket format. Instead, Fox Sports decided to beef up its Thanksgiving Day college basketball TV inventory by setting up a new event for the early doubleheader, featuring four teams from the top conferences outside of the Power 5 and Big East.
But while this is a new event, not all of these teams are strangers to Las Vegas. Both Nevada and Southern Illinois played in the Christmas week Las Vegas Classic (another Fox Sports production) last season, with the Wolf Pack cruising to an 86-64 win. In fact, Nevada has played in a neutral-site here in three of the past five seasons. Tulsa, meanwhile, last participated in a tournament in the Nevada desert back in 2014, splitting a pair of games at the MGM Grand Main Event, while UMass finished second in that same event one year later.
As for this season’s Las Vegas Holiday Invitational, highly-ranked Nevada is a heavy favorite, particularly after winning its two on-campus games by a total of 63 points. The other three teams weren’t quite so dominant. UMass lost its first such matchup to Howard by five, and while SIU was able to defeat that same squad by 14 on Monday, the Salukis struggled for large portions of the game. (The Minutemen, for the record, did blast Arkansas Pine Bluff by 32 on Monday evening.) Tulsa, meanwhile, escaped D1 newcomer Cal Baptist by three and Little Rock by 10.
By the way, the four visitors for this event will play out a bracket of their own, in Little Rock on Friday and Saturday.
La Salle Explorers (0-4) vs. Miami (Fla.) Hurricanes (3-0), 2:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
Northwestern Wildcats (3-0) vs. Fresno State Bulldogs (1-1), approx. 5 p.m. (ESPNU)
Seton Hall Pirates (1-2) vs. Grand Canyon Antelopes (3-1), 9 p.m. (ESPN3)
Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors (3-1) vs. Utah Utes (2-1), approx. 11:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
Miami is the only team out of these eight that has previously participated in either the Wooden Legacy or the now-discontinued 76/Anaheim Classic. And the Hurricanes will hope their 2018 trip goes better than their 2013 excursion, which saw George Washington knock them into the consolation bracket, diminishing a 2-1 finish.
Once again, the Canes will play an A 10 opponent in this season’s quarterfinals, but this time Jim Larrañaga’s squad is a slight favorite to reach the final out of the top half (the ranked Marquette bore that expectation five years ago). Northwestern, looking to rebound from a disappointing 2017-18 follow-up to a historic NCAA appearance, is Miami’s main competition this time around.
Utah, an NIT finalist a season ago, is the most likely finalist out of the bottom half, with WAC contender Grand Canyon the squad possibly in best position to knock the Utes into a consolation game. The Antelopes’ Thursday opponent, Seton Hall, seems to be struggling after losing several key performers from a squad that earned three straight NCAA bids.
Note that Hawai’i will participate in both this tournament and the Christmas week Diamond Head Classic, which the Rainbow Warriors host. That’s because Eran Ganot’s squad is allowed to play in two exempt events per season to help fill its schedule, due to the state’s remote location.
With all four Las Vegas Invitational semifinalists expected to find themselves in the 2019 NCAAs with room to spare, this event could be one of the more entertaining—and impactful—of the season. UCLA won the last two games it played in this tournament, though 2013-14 Nevada and Northwestern weren’t anywhere near the level of competition found here. North Carolina, meanwhile, lost to UNLV by 10 in the 2011 final, when the Tar Heels were ranked no. 1 in the country, and defeated BYU by the same margin in 2007, when they were ... ranked no. 1. Michigan State and Texas are both newcomers to this particular multi-team event.
Based on early results, North Carolina should be able to get past the Longhorns, but UCLA and Michigan State is a closer call ... unless the Spartans stifle the Bruins the way they did 0-5 Tennessee Tech in an on-campus game Sunday. But I think Steve Alford’s team might score a few more than the 33 the Golden Eagles managed.
Note that these are the top two games in KenPom’s FanMatch rankings for today, so be prepared to stay up late if you’re on the East Coast.