Stuff your Thanksgiving with men's basketball action all around
See Cancun! See Disney World! See the Bahamas! See Brooklyn!
No, this is not the front window display for a travel agency. It’s this week’s schedule in college basketball.
Someone came up with the idea years ago of stuffing Thanksgiving week with tournaments, as if it were turkey with dressing, and putting them in every corner of the map that has electricity for a shot clock. And so there are 3-pointers going up from Anchorage to Anaheim, and Las Vegas to Lake Buena Vista. Some pretty compelling possibilities out there, too.
Your travel itinerary, if you please.
Start the evening in Madison Square Garden and Arizona vs. Drexel in the NIT Tip-Off. Do you know Christopher Ferguson, the commander of America’s last Space Shuttle, is a Drexel man? Come to think of it, we could use the Shuttle the next few days.
Zip to Mexico. West Virginia vs. Wisconsin in the finals of the Cancun Challenge. Also Bob Huggins vs. Bo Ryan, two guys with 1409 wins between them. Huggins is No. 3 on the active coach victory list, Ryan is No. 5.
Hurry back to Manhattan for the end of Duke vs. Alabama in the NIT Tip-Off. Jabari Parker, meet the Big Apple. Duke’s last game was a one-point win, as the Blue Devils gave up 90 points to 1-5 Vermont. Mike Krzyzewski wasn’t smiling.
Out to Hawaii. Aloha, it’s Syracuse vs. Baylor for the Maui Classic. That’s 6-0 vs. 6-0, and the winning team gets a replica of a surf board. Wouldn’t you like to see Jim Boeheim on a real one?
Take off that lei, now you’re in Alaska. Tulsa vs. Indiana State in the Great Alaska Shootout. Tulsa coach Danny Manning thinks it’d be great if his 0-4 team just made a few free throws. The Golden Hurricane are 339th in the nation with a 58.2 free throw percentage at last count. That’s followed by TCU and Alaska Anchorage at 2 a.m. ET. It’s late, but the thousand or so moose that populate the Anchorage area might still be up.
Start the basketball buffet at Disney World and the Old Spice Classic. Purdue is 5-0 and stands in the way of Oklahoma State’s 100 point-a-game locomotive.
Beam to the Bahamas, where five of the eight teams are unbeaten in the Battle 4 Atlantis. That includes Villanova, who opens with USC in a reconverted ballroom.
Back to the Old Spice Classic. Butler vs. Washington State. Butler has won its last three games either in overtime, or with the opponent having a shot to win or tie in the air in the last seconds.
Return to the Bahamas for Kansas vs. Wake Forest. Savor the tropics. Jayhawks, you’re not in Kansas anymore. It was 14 degrees Wednesday in Lawrence. “I’d say it’s a little different,” Bill Self mentioned.
Out to Orange County in California for the Wooden Legacy, and it’s still only the afternoon. Cal State Fullerton vs. Marquette, whose 38.7 percent team shooting would have coach Buzz Williams pulling out his hair, if he had any.
Over to Las Vegas for the Las Vegas Invitational. UCLA vs. Nevada. No loitering at the roulette wheel, please. You have to get back to the Wooden to see Charleston play its first game in the state of California, against San Diego State.
Back to Anchorage for Pepperdine against Green Bay, possibly the only team in the field that will appreciate the warmer Alaska temperatures.
It’s 11 p.m. in the East. Ready for sleep? Forget it. The best game of the day might be at the Wooden, with Creighton and Doug McDermott against Arizona State and Jahii Carson. After that, there’s still time to catch Harvard play Denver in Alaska.
Shop in the afternoon – it’s both Black and Basketball Friday -- or watch the Old Spice and Wooden semifinals. Just be in Brooklyn by 4:30 p.m. for Mississippi vs. Georgia Tech in the Barclays Center Classic.
Take the subway to Madison Square Garden for Arizona vs. Duke (maybe) in the NIT Tip-Off final.
Next to Texas and the Corpus Christi Challenge. Larry Brown’s SMU project goes against the ACC and Virginia. Stick around for Texas A&M and Missouri State, 6-0 against 5-0. Or, there are the semis in the Bahamas and Alaska.
It’s 11:30 ET, but nobody sleeps in Las Vegas, anyway. UCLA vs. Northwestern. The program with 11 national championships against the program that has never played in the NCAA tournament.
The day is free but the evening is booked. Start in Brooklyn for the Barclays final.
Next to Corpus Christi, where SMU and Texas A&M could make the championship game an all-Texas affair.
But have the Star Trek transporter running, because you have to beam to the Bahamas to see who wins the battle for Atlantis. One intriguing possibility: Kansas and the nation’s second best field goal percentage against Iowa and the nation’s best field goal percentage defense. That’s 56.6 vs. 31.2.
Take off your shorts and put on your coat. The Great Alaska Shootout final is 12:30 a.m.
Orlando, and the Old Spice Classic final. If it’s Oklahoma State vs. Memphis, that might sound familiar. Memphis would prefer not to get torched again for 39 points by Marcus Smart, like what happened in the Cowboys’ 101-80 victory nearly two weeks earlier.
And finally, the Wooden Legacy. Perhaps Marquette’s defense against Creighton and McDermott. Pack. Go home and try to get the sound of dribbling out of your head. See you next Thanksgiving.