Sure when people think of Thanksgiving it’s football, turkey, weird family talks and whatever the hell else your family does on the glorious holiday. But, let’s not forget about a certain sport that was created in this here damn country. The sport known as basketball.
Today is the start of my favorite holiday tournament in the Battle 4 Atlantis. We also have the Maui Invitational Championship and Cancun Challenge ending today. We’ll take a look at those along with the Advocare Invitational, which kicks off tomorrow and features better games than the NFL. If you’re a Drexel fan (hi JJ) the Great Alaska Shootout starts up tonight as well.
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Battle 4 Atlantis – Wednesday-Friday
Quarterfinals: Washington vs Gonzaga, Charlotte vs Syracuse, UConn vs Michigan, Texas vs Texas A&M
Thank you based Jay Bilas for giving us these quarterfinal matchups while also calling the games. Seriously, the organizers of this tournament did it right giving us rivalry games today in Washington/Gonzaga and Texas/Texas A&M. On top of that we could see a Syracuse/UConn semifinals game so we all can sit around on Thanksgiving and listen to your drunk uncles talk about how we have to make the Big East great again.
Washington/Gonzaga starts the day off at noon and this game is a little more intriguing thanks to the strong start by the Huskies, including a win over Texas. It’s a young Washington team, but it’s led by Andrew Andrews (one of the best names in college hoops) and his 19.7 points per game. Gonzaga has Player of the Year candidate Kyle Wiltjer and a dominating frontcourt with Domantas Sabonis and Przemek Karnowski. The depth and experience for Gonzaga is too much.
Texas/Texas A&M is a sneaky good game as the Aggies are a top-25 team this year that a lot of people don’t know about. The three-headed backcourt of Jalen Jones, Danuel House and Alex Caruso should easily handle the ‘Havoc’ defense. Texas should have an advantage with Cam Ridley in the post, but again the Aggies have a ton of depth thanks to four, four-star recruits that joined the team.
UConn/Michigan is obviously the sexy game of the day in Atlantis. Michigan is still not 100% with a handful of players recovering from offseason surgery and it showed in the loss on Friday against Xavier. The guard play in this game will be fun to watch if you’re under 6’5”, with the likes of Caris LeVert, Daniel Hamilton, Derrick Walton, Sterling Gibbs and Rodney Purvis.
Wednesday’s ATS Picks: Gonzaga -10, UConn -3, Texas A&M -3
Tournament Picks: Gonzaga over UConn
Advocare Invitational – Thursday – Sunday
Quarterfinals: Alabama vs Xavier, Wichita State vs USC, Notre Dame vs Monmouth, Iowa vs Dayton
Yo, who the hell from Barstool gave the sponsorship to the Advocare Invitational? Spags, is this what you do when you do business development? Throw in Wisconsin and this game might as well be known as the Barstool Invitational (something we should look at, Pres.)
This kicks off on Thanksgiving and there’s plenty to watch, but the best game is Iowa vs Dayton (all things coming up Trent!) Wichita State will be playing without Fred VanVleet who is out for at least a week, which should lead to a USC upset. Andy Enfield has the Trojans playing a lot better than anyone projected to start the season and they should give the FVV-less Shockers a run for their money. Monmouth has already beaten UCLA on the road this year, so this field shouldn’t scare them, but I can’t see them getting past Notre Dame. Dayton will want to speed the game up and look to outshoot Iowa, something that they’ve done the last two years under Archie Miller.
I’m taking the I-75 rivalry in Xavier vs Dayton in the finals. This is a great local rivalry where the teams honestly hate each other. I hope we get to see Notre Dame vs Dayton in the semifinals, in which we could see a game getting into the 170s and 180s.
Tournament picks: Semifinals, Xavier over USC, Dayton over Notre Dame. Finals: Dayton over Xavier
Maui Invitational Final: Vanderbilt vs Kansas
Well, it was the final I was expecting as Vanderbilt has blown out both St. John’s and Wake Forest thanks to a barrage of shooting and a NBA prospect named Damian Jones. Kansas cruised in a weak side of the bracket getting to play Chaminade and then UCLA to reach the finals. Vanderbilt has enough bigs to throw at Kansas and matchup pretty well too. If the shooting for Vanderbilt continues, the Commodores could run away with this. However, I expect Bill Self to have his team ready to defend (a Self-staple). Give me Vanderbilt and the points, but Kansas wins the game.