Weekend Tourneylicious…Posted by rtmsf on November 27th, 2008
So the Maui Invitational ends tonight in an early-season blockbuster game – Notre Dame vs. North Carolina – and the CBE Classic and Paradise Jam are already finished, but fear not, hoopheads, there’s plenty more on the way this week..
Continuing tonight in MSG, we have the semifinals of the Preseason NIT. The finals will be on Friday night. Although the marquee teams aren’t as illustrious as some of the other names we’ll see over the next few days, the PNIT still holds a certain aura in terms of its prestige and respect among college fans. We like Purdue to wear down a spirited BC squad in the first game tonight, and Oklahoma to outlast Robert Vaden’s UAB team in the second game (Blake Griffin will have another monster game against UAB’s soft interior), setting up a top 10 showdown on Friday night between teams that you may not get to see much of this year (definitely must-see tv on Black Friday night).
And starting on Thanksgiving Day, two ESPN-sponsored tournaments will get under way, and the fields of these things are fairly impressive.
The Old Spice Classic in Orlando, FL, is a stacked field. Starting with Tennessee v. Siena in the noon game, there’s quality basketball all day here (ok, maybe not Maryland). Our preseason picks in this tourney were Siena v. Gonzaga in the finals, but we’re going to change our tune a little now that we’ve seen some of these teams play. We’re still going with Siena on the top half, but we now like Michigan St. on the bottom half, with the Spartans taking the Old Spice Classic title on Sunday. We would list a few games that we really would like to see from this tourney, but there are no truly worthless iterations possible here (ok, anything involving Maryland, we get it).
The Anaheim 76 Classic is another ESPN property airing during Thanksgiving weekend – the lineup is solid, although not as strong as the Old Spice. Previously we said we thought Wake Forest would meet Baylor in the finals of this tourney, and we’re standing by that prediction. The games to watch for prior to that matchup would be Wake v. St. Mary’s in one semifinal and Arizona St. v. Baylor in the other. These are four NCAA Tournament teams, and every one of them has the chops to go to the Sweet 16 or further. Watching Patty Mills navigate the athletic and long arms of the Wake defense would be special, and that’s why RTC will be ONSITE for that game on Friday afternoon. Expect a postgame report from SoCal.