What you need to know for Monday, Nov. 20:
1. There is no need to suggest the Maui Invitational is down because the potential exists for a championship game between two teams with Final Four aspirations. If Wichita State and Notre Dame play for the title on Wednesday it will deliver. The Shockers and Irish haven’t been tested in this young season.
But they will this week.
Nothing can be taken for granted for the Shockers against Cal or Marquette/VCU. And once the Irish get past Chaminade either a surprising LSU or a Michigan team that is still a work in progress and always a pest await. Rarely do these tournaments play out as predicted. And that’s why if the Shockers and Irish get to Wednesday it will show they are primed early in the season.
2. Texas A&M should be one step closer to being whole and on full display with the expected return of Robert Williams from his two-game suspension. Guard J.J. Caldwell still has to sit three more games. But with Williams back on the floor, the Aggies will be even tougher to take out in the Legends Classic.
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Texas A&M is the team to beat, not just against Oklahoma State or up against Penn State or Pitt at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, but maybe in the SEC with Kentucky. The waves of depth the Aggies have upfront will be a tall task for any opponent.
3. Former Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan got into the College Basketball Hall of Fame on Sunday night in Kansas City. His Badgers will face a difficult run to get out of KC with a trophy, too. The Xavier home loss last week in the Gavitt Tipoff Games was a eye-opening. Wisconsin is young, very young, but couldn’t convert or come up with the necessary stops late.
Baylor has had stellar play from point guard Manu Lecomte (20.7 ppg) so far, but the games haven’t presented much of a test. The headline affair will be between Creighton and UCLA. The Bluejays have the look of a Big East title contender behind Marcus Foster and Khryi Thomas. UCLA went to overtime with Central Arkansas, making it tough to judge.
4. Utah hasn’t received much preseason buzz in the Pac-12 but blasting the Michael Porter Jr.-less Tigers at home last week may change the perception. Beating Ole Miss and then either Rice or UNLV in Las Vegas over the next two days will serve as even more motivation for the Utes.
5. North Carolina coach Roy Williams always seems to play a true road game before a tournament on the West Coast. He’s got the Tar Heels at Stanford tonight before the PK80 in Portland.The Cardinal have one of the most efficient and productive players in Reid Travis (21.3 ppg). Travis could still go off and the Cardinal lose. But getting the Tar Heels at home in arguably one of the top non-conference games for Stanford should create a rocking at mops here on the Farm.