Feast Week Preview: Maui, NIT, CBE, More..

November 24th, 2009

It’s Feast Week. This is one of the most exciting weeks in all of college basketball. There are multiple holiday tournaments taking place that include some big time matchups. Let’s take a deeper look…


Feast Week is headlined by the MAUI INVITATIONAL (November 23-25)

Teams: Chaminade, Maryland, Cincinnati, Vanderbilt, Colorado, Gonzaga, Arizona, and Wisconsin.


This is the most well known tournament during Feast Week. Why is this tournament so famous? Well, for one, you’ll find some big time college coaches sporting some ridiculous Hawaiian shirts. It’s also famous for the “Biggest Upset” according the Maui site. In 1982 Chaminade University, with no gym and 800 undergrad students, squared off against All-American Ralph Sampson and Virginia. Chaminade beat Virginia 77-72 and the Maui Invitational was born. Can they pull of the upset again this year?


What Am I Thankful for? You get the root for the underdog. Is it likely that Chaminade will win this tournament? No. Is it likely that they can steal a game? Why not? It’s fun to root for the underdog. Aside from the “underdog” Chaminade, all of these teams have talent and it should be a very competitive tournament. There is no clear cut favorite. This tournament also will allow some players some national exposure. I think that hoops fans will be very impressed by freshman Lance Stephenson of Cincinnati.


My prediction: Gonzaga will build off of its loss at Michigan State and win the tournament. Matt Bouldin will take home MVP honors. The All-Tournament team will include Bouldin, Lance Stephenson (Cincinnati), Nic Wise (Arizona), Greivis Vazquez (Maryland), and Robert Sacre (Gonzaga).



NIT SEASON TIP-OFF (November 25 & 27)

Teams: LSU, Connecticut, LSU, and Duke


What Am I Thankful for? The possibility of seeing Duke and Connecticut in the finals. That would match up Coach K and Coach Calhoun, two Hall-of-Fame coaches. I’m also thankful for New York City guards playing at Madison Square Garden. Kemba Walker, Bronx, NY, could be the next big NYC guard to shine at the World’s Most Famous Arena.


My prediction: Duke will beat Connecticut to win the tournament. Connecticut will show its athleticism and have great guard play; however Coach K and Duke will be victorious in the end.



CBE CLASSIC (November 23-24)

Teams: Texas, Pittsburgh, Iowa, and Wichita State


What Am I Thankful for? There is talk of an upset already. Although Wichita State is without starting point guard Clevin Hannah, the Shockers still have a shot of taking down Pitt. However, I would love to see a Pitt vs. Texas final. Pittsburgh seems to always have a great point guard and this year is no different. Ashton Gibbs has the role of replacing LeVance Fields and this will be a great test for him. We will get to see a top 5 team in action, Texas.


My prediction: Texas will beat Pittsburgh in the finals, easily.  Damion James will win MOP. Dexter Pittman (6’10” 290 lbs.) will show other Big 12 big men what they have to look forward to this year.



OLD SPICE CLASSIC (November 26-29)

Teams: Baylor, Xavier, Michigan, Florida State, Marquette, Iona, Alabama, Creighton


What Am I Thankful for? John Beilein’s 1-3-1 zone. You rarely see this type of defense in the college game. I love it; it brings something new to the table. How new coaches Anthony Grant (Alabama) and Chris Mack (Xavier) will adjust to their respective new programs. Is FSU a true sleeper in the ACC? This tournament is stacked with solid programs. 6 out of the 8 schools made it to the postseason last year.


My prediction: Michigan will beat FSU in the championship game. FSU will show that they cannot be taken lightly in the ACC. Manny Harris is going to put numbers. He can score at will and will do so throughout this tournament. DeShawn Sims will show the rest of the college hoops world why Michigan has one of the best inside-outside combos in the nation.



76 CLASSIC (November 26-29)

Teams: West Virginia, Clemson, Butler, Minnesota, UCLA, Texas A&M, Long Beach State, Portland


What Am I Thankful for? The depth of this tournament. 6 out of the 8 teams made it to the Big Dance last season. Butler, the mid-major powerhouse, has a legitimate shot at winning this tournament. We will get to know some rather “unknown” players after this tournament. ( i.e. Donald Sloan of Texas A&M and Lawrence Westbrook of Minnesota) I’m also thankful for Brad Stevens. The coach of Butler could be the next coach to jump to a Big 6 conference school.


My Prediction: West Virginia will win a very close game against Butler in the final. Devin Ebanks and Da’Sean Butler will be too much for Gordon Hayward and Matt Howard and the Mountaineers will prevail.



LEGENDS CLASSIC (November 27-28)

Teams: Rutgers, UMass, Michigan State, Florida


What Am I Thankful for? We are guaranteed to see a Florida/Michigan State matchup. They will face off in the semifinals. No, I don’t get the semifinal matchups either. Maybe they figured hoops fans would leave these games early and head to the casinos in Atlantic City rather then stick around and watch. However, we get to see a contender in Michigan State and an exciting freshman talent at Florida in Kenny Boynton.


My Prediction: Michigan State will win it. They will face a relatively tough test in their first round matchup against Florida, but will prevail. Kalin Lucas will show Boynton the ropes.


What are you Thankful for?


Matthew Ryter keeps you up to date on the world of college basketball with his "Ryter's Block" column.  What do you think about this story? Post your comments below: