1-2 games from Gonzaga, UCLA highlight championship hoops
This time of year is all about friends, family, turkey and pie and plenty of soccer to spend the days.
Better make room for some basketball, too.
The rise of excepted tournaments in the past few years has turned Thanksgiving week into a reason to give thanks to some college hoops. Almost every day is brimming with baffling matches, which not only serve as the top 25 change-ups during the early part of the season, but can serve as resume builders when March comes around.
Whether they take place in the Virgin Islands, the Bahamas, Mexico, or somewhere across the United States, here’s a look at some of the first season tournaments that should provide a television feast for sports fans.
Might address the big one first: He will face the UCLA-ranked No. 2 Gonzaga at the Good Sam Empire Classic Tuesday night in Las Vegas, a rematch in a thrilling National Semifinal that the Bulldogs won in overtime.
“I was feeling down last night watching our UCLA game – they got their whole squad back,” said Gonzaga coach Mark Vu. “We are definitely very different, and thanks to Mick (Cronin), they used that as a springboard. They play with great confidence and are very similar to what they played in the NCAA Tournament.”
This will be the first time the Bruins have faced the Nation’s Top Team in a regular season since December 3, 2016, when they defeated seeded Kentucky at the Rupp Arena.
“Mick and I have worked really hard on putting this game together,” Little said. “We knew we needed to do things like this because of West Coast basketball, and we will continue to do that going forward. But to navigate our way into this game with such high ratings, whether it’s real or not – we’ll find out in February – it has to be a night enjoyable.”
One of the first tournaments to start the season on the mainland will be played again due to COVID-19 with Houston #12 joining Oregon, Wisconsin and Butler for the Maui Invitational. The matches will be played at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas after they were held in Asheville, North Carolina, last season.
fort myers tip
Seton Hall jumped into the Top 25 in 21st after defeating No. 4 Michigan last week. The Pirates will join 23rd in Florida and Ohio State in the Fort Myers Tip-Off Championships at the Suncoast Credit Union Arena.
Battle 4 Atlantis
Another one of the season’s best early tournaments is back after COVID-19 forced its cancellation. Battle 4 Atlantis has featured a string of big showdowns since the start of Wednesday: No. 19 Auburn against No. 22 Uconn, Michigan State against Loyola-Chicago, Syracuse against the Virginia Commonwealth and Arizona State against No. 6 Baylor.
NIT Season Hint
The New York City long hoops scene is taking place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn these days. No. 25 Xavier faces Iowa State and ninth seed Memphis faces Virginia Tech in the first round Wednesday night.
Number 24 Southern California doesn’t have much to go as he faces St. Joseph Thursday night in the opening round at the Anaheim Convention Center. San Diego State faces Georgetown on the same night in The Wooden Legacy.
ESPN Invitational Events
4th-ranked Kansas and No. 10 Alabama grabbed the headlines at the ESPN Events Invitational beginning Thursday at HP Field House in Kissimmee, Florida. The Jayhawks face North Texas and Crimson Tide plays Iona in the first round matches, while Belmont plays Drake and Dayton plays Miami in the other two games.
Classic Emerald Coast
Elsewhere in Florida, LSU plays Penn State and Oregon State faces Wake Forest Friday in the main arc of the Emerald Coast Classic hosted by Northwest Florida State College. Championship match on Saturday.
For more AP college basketball coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and http://twitter.com/AP_Top25
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