Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Maui Invitational and Battle 4 Atlantis offer Thanksgiving-week tests

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Holiday hoops season has arrived.

The week’s AP Top 25 schedule is filled with Thanksgiving-week tournaments that have long been staples of the college basketball schedule as well as made-for-TV pairings.


What You Need To Know

The week’s AP Top 25 schedule is filled with Thanksgiving-week tournaments that have long been staples of the college basketball schedule as well as made-for-TV pairings

The headliner is a loaded field at the Maui Invitational in Hawaii featuring five of the top 11 teams in the poll; that includes No. 1 Kansas, No. 2 Purdue and No. 4 Marquette

The Battle 4 Atlantis also takes place this week in the Bahamas; that field includes No. 14 North Carolina and No. 20 Arkansas

The schedule also includes No. 3 Arizona meeting No. 21 Michigan State in California.


The headliner is a loaded field at the Maui Invitational, which began play Monday with five of the top 11 teams. There’s also the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas, as well as other events in Florida, California, Missouri and even Mexico.

They all create the potential of marquee matchups as well as the chance for teams to sort through what they do well compared to what they need to improve — the latter of which being of particular importance in a time of rapid roster overhauls through the transfer portal.

That was on the mind of North Carolina coach Hubert Davis before his 14th-ranked Tar Heels play in Atlantis, mentioning a daily message his retired Hall of Fame predecessor Roy Williams shared with a previous team: “Rome wasn’t built in a day but it was worked on every day.”

“This year’s team has new parts, and every day we want to take a step forward of building that team and getting closer to that finished product,” Davis said last week.

That applies broadly, too.


The Maui field features No. 1 Kansas, No. 2 Purdue, No. 4 Marquette, No. 7 Tennessee and No. 11 Gonzaga. That tournament, relocated to Honolulu due to wildfires that devastated its longtime home of Lahaina, runs through Wednesday.

The Boilermakers and Volunteers won Monday to set up a Tuesday semifinal matchup, while the Zags fell into the consolation bracket after falling to Purdue.

The Jayhawks and Golden Eagles also won Monday night and will meet in the other semifinal.


The Tar Heels, who climbed six spots in Monday’s new poll, are the highest-ranked team taking the court Wednesday for the eight-team tournament in Paradise Island, Bahamas. They’ll open against Northern Iowa in the first game, with the tournament running through Friday.

The field also includes No. 20 Arkansas, which comes in off a home loss to UNC Greensboro that dropped the Razorbacks six spots Monday. Arkansas opens play there against Stanford.

The field also includes Villanova, which fell out of the poll Monday; and Memphis, which was the leading vote-getter among unranked teams. The Tigers open against Michigan and a good showing at the Atlantis resort could propel them into net week’s ranking.


Third-ranked Arizona has already earned a marquee win this season at Duke. The Wildcats have another such matchup on the schedule on Thanksgiving Day against No. 21 Michigan State. That game takes place in Palm Desert, California, for the Acrisure Classic.


No. 22 James Madison is also playing an offshore event, facing Southern Illinois on Tuesday in the Cancun Challenge in Mexico. The winner of that matchup faces the New Mexico State-Fresno State winner on Wednesday for the title.


Multiple events are taking place in Florida this week with ranked teams, including No. 18 Colorado in the Sunshine Slam in Daytona Beach; and No. 24 Virginia in the Fort Myers Tip-Off.

The ESPN Events Invitational features No. 12 Texas A&M and No. 19 Florida Atlantic as the headliners in Kissimmee. They could meet in the semifinals of an event that opens Thursday and runs through Sunday.

There’s also No. 17 Alabama playing Ohio State on Friday in its Emerald Coast Classic opener in Niceville.


Eighth-ranked Creighton faces Loyola Chicago on Wednesday to open the Hall of Fame Classic in Kansas City, Missouri. No. 13 Baylor faces Oregon State on Wednesday in the NIT Season Tip-Off in Brooklyn, while No. 23 USC meets Seton Hall on Thursday in the first-year Rady Children’s Invitational near San Diego.

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