Here’s hoping all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends.
Football games get all the attention, and understandably so given tradition, but on this day the college basketball action was far better than the football games. With that, we jump right into the day’s action:
The Thanksgiving action
- Oklahoma and Wisconsin will meet in the Battle 4 Atlantis final after both won semifinal games Thursday. The Sooners took care of Butler 59-46, winning the rebounding battle 41-32 while the Bulldogs shot just 23.7%. The Badgers came back to defeat Georgetown 68-65 in a fantastic game, exactly the kind of gut check Wisconsin needed after coasting through its early schedule on the strength of hot shooting. The Hoyas are no doubt stung from losing one they had a solid lead in-nine points with 11 minutes to play-but G-town also should feel good about going toe-to-toe with a Final Four favorite.
- Also at Atlantis, North Carolina hammered UCLA 78-56. Marcus Paige (21 points, 5 assists) was terrific per usual, while the Bruins are having a tough trip in the Bahamas. They’re now in the seventh place game, while Florida now faces Carolina for fifth after having a tougher time than expected before defeating UAB 56-47.
- Kansas handled Rhode Island 76-60 in the most intriguing quarterfinal of the Orlando Classic. The Jayhawks never really let the Rams hang around in this one, and now face Tennessee in the semifinals after the Volunteers rallied to topple Santa Clara 64-57.
- Michigan State and Marquette will meet in the second semi in Orlando. The Spartans ripped Rider 77-45. The competition hasn’t been the toughest, but it’s notable that MSU has been in total control in every game so far this year. The Golden Eagles, meanwhile, got the performance of the day from Matt Carlino in edging Georgia Tech 72-70. Carlino put Marquette on his back, hitting eight three-pointers and scoring a career-high 38 points, or four more points than he scored in his first five games of the season combined. He also hit 14 of 16 from the foul line.
- Xavier and UTEP in the semifinals of the Wooden Legacy is a juicy matchup on Friday. Both received a fair challenge in their quarterfinals, with the Miners holding off Princeton 62-56 and the Musketeers pulling away from San Diego in the final 10 minutes for an 82-71 win. Vince Hunter has been a stud for UTEP early this year with three straight double-doubles (18 pts., 12 rebs. in this one). The last time a Miner did that was 1966-67 when Nevil Shed of the 1966 national championship team fame turned the trick.
- Also winning on Thursday in Fullerton were Long Beach State and Washington. The 49ers finished with a flourish, outscoring Western Michigan 27-4 down the stretch to win going away, 73-55. Really like this Long Beach team-commit too many turnovers, but a lot of players who can step up-while the Broncos win points for some of the best uniforms we’ve seen all season, a sweet old school look with the diamonds on the sides of the shorts. Washington topped San Jose State 78-56, as Robert Upshaw blocked seven SJSU shots and the Huskies got 44 points from their bench, including 17 from Donaven Dorsey.
- Mercer and UC Santa Barbara advanced to the semifinals of the Great Alaska Shootout. Mercer outlasted the Rice Owls 77-71 in overtime, while UCSB hammered Washington State 71-43. Alan Williams was relatively quiet (12 points, 12 boards) but Zalmico Harmon scored 17 for the Gauchos and Wazzu shot just 3-for-33 in the first half. Yikes.
- Memphis led Baylor at halftime last night at the Las Vegas Invitational. Then the Bears outscored the Tigers 42-15 in the second half to win 71-47. Baylor will face Illinois in the final tomorrow after the Illini ran over Indiana State 88-62.
- Finally, Madison Square Garden hosted an old-fashioned doubleheader Thursday, with Stony Brook rolling past LIU 73-54 and Western Kentucky edging St. Joseph’s 62-59. Seeing the teams in this one is reminiscent of the names you’d hear playing in the Garden back in its heyday in the 30s and 40s.
- Gonzaga guard Josh Perkins is going to be out a while after suffering a broken jaw when he was kicked in the face on an out-of-control closeout in the Bulldogs’ win over Georgia last night. The play should’ve been called a flagrant foul, yet somehow was only called a common foul. Whether there was intent to harm or not is irrelevant; 99.9% of fouls in basketball games are not meant to injure. The play was flat-out reckless, and when defenders are reckless there is a real chance of things like this happening. This is an injury that didn’t have to happen, but it’s also the type of play that the sport seems to have little interest in doing something about. Very unfortunate.
Today’s Menu Many of the Thanksgiving holiday tourneys starting to wind down
St. John’s vs. Gonzaga (7 p.m. EST, ESPN 2) Preseason NIT final from Madison Square Garden A terrific test for the Bulldogs, for this is essentially a home game for the Johnnies. Outstanding game.
Oklahoma vs. Wisconsin, Butler vs. Georgetown, North Carolina vs. Florida (first two games are at 4 p.m. & 2 p.m. EST, ESPN) Battle 4 Atlantis championship, third place and fifth place games. You know a tournament is loaded when the teams in the championship and fifth place games could be reversed and absolutely no one would’ve been surprised.
Baylor vs. Illinois (11:30 p.m. EST, Fox Sports 1) Las Vegas Invitational final Illinois is off to a good non-conference start again, which is nothing new-the Illini seem to do so often, even against good teams, only to fade in the Big 10. Baylor has been something of a surprise early.
UTEP vs. Xavier, Long Beach State vs. Washington (3:30 p.m. & 11:30 p.m. EST, ESPN2) Wooden Legacy The first game should be one of the best of the day. Matt Stainbrook has been on fire to start the season for Xavier, while this would be an especially big win for the Miners.
Yale at Providence (4 p.m. EST, Fox Sports 1) Outside of tournaments, this is the best game of the day. The Bulldogs are becoming one of the better kept secrets in the country, a consistently solid program. Notable will be how the Friars play without Kris Dunn if he is unable to go.
Boise State at N.C. State Both are possibly fringe NCAA Tournament teams. Intriguing intersectional game that is more important for the Broncos.
Middle Tennessee State vs. Cincinnati, Creighton vs. Mississippi Emerald Coast Classic from Niceville, Fla. Pair of solid matchups, though perhaps all meeting a year or two too late as far as national implications go. Creighton has the early buzz, but Cincinnati could easily win this event as well, while both MTSU and Ole Miss are capable of at least one upset.
La Salle vs. Virginia (9:30 p.m. EST, NBCSN) Barclays Center Classic in Brooklyn. Tall task for the Explorers, but they’ll take a shot at the Cavaliers. Everyone knows about UVA’s defense, but La Salle has been solid on D so far this year too, holding its first four opponents to 33.0% shooting in a 4-0 start.
Have a great Friday.