College basketball opened around the nation in early November with several non-conference and “guarantee’’ games. The first real tests for the best teams will come during the in-season tournaments at the end of the month.
Here’s a look at five of the best tournaments around the country: find odds for all at BestGamblingSites.com
Maui Invitational, Nov. 20-26, Maui, Hawaii — Let’s start with the best. The fact that it’s played in Maui is just the start of the why it’s the best. The eight-team field includes No. 1 Kansas and head coach Bill Self, who just became the highest paid coach in the country and No. 2 Purdue, the favorite in the loaded Big 10. Also in the mix are No. 5 Marquette, the Big East favorite, top 15 teams, Tennessee and Gonzaga, giant killer Chaminade and always-popular UCLA and Syracuse round out the impressive field.
The Pick: Purdue
Empire Classic, Nov. 19-20, Madison Square Garden, N.Y. — Defending national champion Connecticut headlines the four-team field that will play in “The World’s Most Famous Arena.’’ UConn, ranked in the top 5, and head coach Danny Hurley will face always-tough Indiana in one game, while top 20 Texas will face another perennial power Louisville in the other game
The Pick: U Conn.
Preseason NIT, Nov. 22-24, Barclay Center, Brooklyn, N.Y. — The home of the NBA’s Nets will have four teams from around the country over the Thanksgiving holiday. Baylor, the 2021 national champs and head coach Scott Drew, out of the Big 12 face a young but dangerous Oregon State from the Pac-12. Pitt, coming off it’s best-ever finish in the ACC, will take on second-year coach Todd Golden and the Florida Gators, one of the top teams in the SEC.
The Pick: Baylor
Battle 4 Atlantis, Nov. 22-24, The Bahamas — Three top 20 teams, another getting votes and some of the more popular names in the sport comprise the eight-team field at The Atlantis. Arkansas, ranked in the top 15, takes on always formidable Stanford in one game. Villanova, a top 20 team out of the Big East, takes on dangerous Texas Tech of the Big 12. Michigan and Memphis meet in a third game. And North Carolina, ranked in the top 25, meets Northern Iowa to complete the opening four games.
The Pick: Arkansas
Ft. Myers Tip Off, Nov. 20-22, Ft. Myers, Fla. — The Florida foursome includes two of the top coaches in the country and two first-year coaches in the opening-round matchups. Virginia and head coach Tony Bennett, who won a national title with the Cavs in 2019, take on Wisconsin and head coach Greg Gard, the Big 10 Coach of the Year last year. Both teams are ranked just outside of the top 25. In the second game SMU and first-year head Rob Lanier meet West Virginia and first-year head coach Josh Eilert, who took over for Bob Huggins. This will be the first-ever meeting between SMU and WVU.
The Pick: Virginia