SEC Feast Week Preview: Part I

Posted by David Changas on November 21st, 2016

With one of the best weeks of the college basketball season now upon us, we offer Part I of our preview of what’s ahead for SEC teams headed to the various holiday tournaments around the country. This post will focus on the events beginning today and Tuesday.

Rick Barnes and Tennessee have a tough road ahead in Maui… and beyond. (Troy Taormina/USA Today Sports Images)

  • Maui Jim Maui Invitational (Lahaina, HI) – Tennessee. The Volunteers’ season got off to a rough start with a home loss to Chattanooga on opening night, but they now sit at 1-1 after an easy subsequent win over lowly Appalachian State. In Maui, however, Tennessee will get started with a bite than may be bigger than Rick Barnes’ squad can chew. The Vols open with a savvy, veteran Wisconsin team that is likely to give its offense fits. The Vols’ second game of the tournament on Tuesday will either be against a top-10 Oregon team that could have preseason All-American Dillon Brooks back in action, or a Georgetown team that will be desperate after a couple of early losses. There is a strong likelihood that the Vols will drop their first two games, with their only realistic chance for a win on the islands coming against non-Division I host Chaminade on Wednesday.

  • MGM Grand Main Event (Las Vegas, NV) – Alabama. The 2-1 Crimson Tide head to Las Vegas today to take on Valparaiso in a semifinal game at the MGM Grand Main Event. A win against the Crusaders would almost certainly result in a match-up with BYU on Tuesday (the Cougars will battle St. Louis in the tournament’s other semifinal). Many are expecting improvement from Avery Johnson’s club ahead of next year’s monster recruiting haul, and Alabama certainly needs to get the job done against teams like Valparaiso if it wants to think about playing meaningful games in March. Should the Tide get a shot at BYU, an excellent team that plays extremely fast (third in the nation), they will have a chance for a nice resume-building win.
  • CBE Hall of Fame Classic (Kansas City, MO) – Georgia. The 2-1 Bulldogs lost their season opener at Clemson, beat UNC Asheville, and struggled to put away Furman on Thursday night. Mark Fox’s team will open this event with an unbeaten George Washington team that faced a tremendous amount of offseason turmoil. If Georgia is to meet its preseason expectations, this is a win the Bulldogs must have. Fox’s teams have had a disturbing tendency to not get their acts together before SEC play begins, but the program can ill afford another slip-up here. A win over the Colonials would almost certainly mean a Tuesday night match-up with Kansas — in Kansas City, no less — and that is precisely the type of game a veteran group of Bulldogs should want.
  • Cancun Challenge (Cancun, Mexico) – Auburn. The Tigers are off to a strong 3-0 start and the future definitely appears bright on the Plains. Auburn will get its first real test of the season on Tuesday when the Tigers take on a Texas Tech team that many believe will be in the NCAA Tournament. They’ll then face either Purdue or Utah State in the next round of this four-team event, so finding a win here will be tough. But Bruce Pearl has to be pleased with what he has seen so far, and the talent on the roster exceeds what he had in his first two years on campus. Excitement abounds in this program, and the Cancun Challenge will afford the Tigers a great opportunity to see how they stack up against quality competition.
David Changas (166 Posts)

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