The Maui Classic closed out last night and Gonzaga brought home the championship in an overtime barnburner over Cincinnati. The Bearcats launched 31 treys and only made 8. As a direct consequence of settling for long jumpers, Cincy was also beaten from the line, being outscored 16-5. The 61-59 win was a nice triumph for the Zags, coming right on the heels of a decisive win over Wisconsin in the semis. Maybe they won't be rebuilding this year after all.
Wisconsin bounced back and beat Maryland in the third-place game. I had a chance to watch this one. Play was fairly poor on both sides in the first half, but the Badgers hit enough threes to build a ten-point lead. Ultimately, that, along with a 33-26 rebounding advantage was the story of the game for Bo Ryan's team. Jason Bohannon's 20 points, on a 4-of-5 from behind the arc was the difference in a 78-69
triumph. Full disclosure requires that I inform you I'm a native-born Wisconsinte and a Badger fan. I now live in Baltimore, near my wife's family who are passionate Terps fans. Here's hoping they don't shut the door on me when I go over for turkey later today.
While the above two games were going on in Hawaii, the semis of the Preseason NIT were tipping off on the East Coast. Connecticuit played a great basketball game in dismantling LSU 81-55. The backcourt was dominanting, with Kemba Walker and Jerome Dyson going for 20 apiece. The frontcourt dominatied the glass, led by Stanley Robinson and Gavin Edwards. UConn might be another team that won't go through as much of a rebuilding process as I thought. They get Duke in the Friday championship game, which should be a treat, so long as the Blue Devils can find a frontcourt answer for the Huskies. Kyle Singler got no help from fellow forwards Lance Thomas and Miles Plumlee in a win over Arizona
State, as they combined for eight points and nine rebounds. Duke's backcourt, combined with Singler and Coach K running the show are more than enough to make Duke a good team. But if they want to win by Duke standards, they need a lot more help.
Rounding out yesterday, Kentucky beat Stanford in overtime, in a rematch of an epic Final Four game from back in 1998. Looking ahead to today, the Old Spice Classic in Orlando and the 76 Classic in Anaheim open up today. The best game of the day is Minnesota-Butler, and you've got teams like UCLA, Michigan and Marquette in action. So don't forget college basketball in a day marked by the NFL, a prime-time college game involving Texas and an all-day marathon of The Godfather on AMC. Everyone have a happy Thanksgiving!