Thanksgiving week is here. That means phenomenal college basketball tournaments across the land. But, the one to beat (until the PK80 next year) is the Maui Invitation. With the Ducks in it this year the interest is of course spiked. Now, it’s picking time!
Game 1: Tennessee vs. Wisconsin
The Vols can put up some points, as they average close to 87 points per game. However, the flip side of that is that they give up plenty. They’re 1-1 on the year with a loss to Chattanooga and a victory over Appalachian State. Obviously a complete change in style as the Wisconsin Badgers love to slow things down. They’re led by guard Bronson Koening. Not the best start for the Badgers as they’re off to a 2-2 record, but I have them pretty easily in this one 72-65.
Game 2: Georgetown vs. Oregon
The news out of Oregon today is that Dillon Brooks has been cleared to return to action. Look for the Ducks to keep him on a minute limit and potentially come off the bench. Georgetown hasn’t been great out of the start with losses to Maryland and Arkansas State. They can light it up though, putting up 84 points per game led by the play of guard L.J. Peak and his 18 points per contest. I look for this to be a shootout but the Ducks to win in a close one, 81-73.
Game 3: Oklahoma State vs. UCONN
The Cowboys can absolutely score the ball. They have yet to score under 100 points in their three wins, putting up an average of 107 per game. In yet another matchup of offense vs defense, UCONN only allows opponents to score 64 per game. What will give, offense or defense? I think Oklahoma State wins this one big, behind Jawun Evans and his 23 points per game with a score of 95-70.
Game 4: North Carolina vs. Chaminade
The poor hosts of this tournament never have much of a chance against the heavy hitters of college basketball. North Carolina has rolled to a 4-0 record and I expect nothing different in this one, Tar Heels win 102-65.
Game 5: Tennessee vs. Georgetown
This should be a fun matchup between two teams that score easily. Honestly I look at this one as a coin flip, but I’m going to go with a Tennessee victory 87-81.
Game 6: UCONN vs. Chaminade
After the blowout loss to Oklahoma State, the Huskies will be looking for a big time rebound in this one. Thankfully, a matchup vs Chaminade is the the way to do so. Terry Larrier and his 17 points will be too much to handle in an 80-63 victory.
Game 7: Wisconsin vs. Oregon
Back in the winners bracket with the Ducks and the Badgers. It’s a matchup that we’ve seen before and one that’s a really fun one. It’s certainly a mix match of styles when you go against the Badgers but I think having Brooks back will be instrumental for the Ducks. If Oregon is hitting I expect a big win in this one, but I’ll go a little more conservative with a 75-68 victory.
Game 8: Oklahoma State vs. North Carolina
After the victory over UCONN, the Cowboys find themselves in over their heads against the Tar Heels. I think they push them for a while, but the experienced juniors and seniors (their top four scorers are juniors or seniors), North Carolina wins this one 87-71.
Game 9: Georgetown vs. Chaminade
Once again, the Hoyas offense will be too much to handle in this one. Chaminade makes a push, but the Hoyas win a close one 85-77.
Game 10: Tennessee vs. UCONN
This should be a very good matchup for the winner of the consolation bracket. Again we have a great mix of styles between the Tennessee offense and the UCONN defense. I just don’t think the Huskies have the firepower to pull this one out though. Tennessee pulls out the victory, 91-79.
Game 11: Oklahoma State vs. Wisconsin
In the matchup for third and fourth place, the Cowboys get the very last team they would want to see. I think the Badgers stifle the Oklahoma State offense and Koening takes over to get Wisconsin the third place with a 71-59 victory.
Game 12: Oregon vs. North Carolina
What a fun matchup this one would be. What worries me for the Ducks in this one is that they’re still trying to piece together their rotation while the Tar Heels have been rolling with the same mix for a few years now. North Carolina’s strength inside worries me, but on the flip side I see them having a hard time matchup with Chris Boucher. Guys like Boucher and Brooks will have to play lights out to get the victory. Call me a homer, but I think Altman gets his team to pull this one out, 91-87 in overtime.
How do you think the Maui Invitational will pan out?