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-We said going into the week that at least one team that was way outside the national scene would jump on to it by doing well in an exempt tournament, and although we’re just one game into it, Butler appears to be that team. They are currently not receiving votes in either poll, but suddenly have a decisive win away from home against a top five North Carolina team, and have another game today against a pretty good Oklahoma team. If they can pick up just one more win, they’ll be in great shape.
-Arizona got a big win against a very good San Diego State team last night to win the Maui Invitational. San Diego State is ranked #15, but I think they’re even better than that and will end up being ranked higher than that by the end of the year. As good as everyone thinks this win is for Arizona, it’s probably going to end up being even better. San Diego State isn’t going to lose many, and Arizona beat them on a neutral floor.
-Indiana fell to Eastern Washington the other night. People are calling it an upset, and it is, but not to the degree it’s being made out to be. Eastern Washington is one of the best teams, if not the best, in the Big Sky. It shouldn’t be a surprise that they’re able to go on the road and beat an Indiana team that most of us were expecting to miss the NIT.
-Northern Iowa has blasted through the Cancun Challenge, and knocked off Northwestern and Virginia Tech in the process. Those aren’t upsets either. In fact, had Northern Iowa lost either of those games, it would have been an upset.
-I make mention of this below, but it is important to remember that to the selection committee, all of these bracketed exempt tournament games are merely looked at as neutral floor games. UCLA is playing North Carolina. It’s in the loser’s bracket, but nothing on either team’s profile will indicate that they played each other in the loser’s bracket. It is merely two teams that are currently ranked that are playing each other on a neutral floor.
-I hope everyone has a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!! I’ll be eating KFC, drinking Wild Turkey, and watching college hoops all day!! Who could ask for a better day!!
-SANTA CLARA VS TENNESSEE (Orlando Classic). I’m not sure what to make of this Tennessee team yet, but we’ll learn a lot about them in this tournament.
-BUTLER VS OKLAHOMA (Battle 4 Atlantis). This is the match-up that most were expecting to see in the loser’s bracket. Both teams managed big wins against ranked teams, and have a shot at another big win today.
-KANSAS VS RHODE ISLAND (Orlando Classic). I like this Rhody team, and they come in unbeaten, but they’ve got a very tall order today. Having said that, these are the kinds of wins that solidify teams as tournament teams.
-PRINCETON VS UTEP (Wooden Legacy). UTEP comes in at 2-0, and if they can pick up three wins away from home in this tournament it will go a long way toward landing them inside the bubble.
-GEORGETOWN VS WISCONSIN (Battle 4 Atlantis). Both teams are unbeaten and already have some notable wins on their profile.
-SAN DIEGO VS XAVIER (Wooden Legacy). Xavier is unbeaten, and has looked impressive against Murray State and SFA, who are both pretty good. This is their first game away from home, and it comes against a USD team with a lot of experience.
-ILLINOIS VS INDIANA STATE (Las Vegas Invitational). Illinois is unbeaten, and Indiana State has just one loss. We weren’t that big on Indiana State coming into the year, but if they can pull off a win in a game like this it will really boost their profile.
-MICHIGAN STATE VS RIDER (Orlando Classic). Michigan State shouldn’t have too much trouble.
-NORTH CAROLINA VS UCLA (Battle 4 Atlantis). You know you haven an intriguing tournament when you have two ranked teams going at it in the loser’s bracket. The thing to remember is that to the selection committee, this is nothing more than a neutral site game. The fact that it is occurring in the loser’s bracket of a tournament does not make it any less meaningful. It’s the same as if they were meeting in a regular season game that was not part of a tournament.
-MARQUETTE VS GEORGIA TECH (Orlando Classic). Marquette has looked pitiful this year. Georgia Tech, on the other hand, comes in at 3-0.
-LONG BEACH STATE VS WESTERN MICHIGAN (Wooden Legacy). Long Beach has played a killer schedule and comes in at 2-3. We weren’t too excited about Western Michigan, but they do come in at 3-1 and if they can do well in this tournament and pick up some notable wins away from home they could start to stand out.
-FLORIDA VS UAB (Battle 4 Atlantis). Florida lost a thriller to Georgetown, and UAB was squashed by Wisconsin in the first game.
-SAN JOSE STATE VS WASHINGTON (Wooden Legacy). Washington comes in at 3-0.
-BAYLOR VS MEMPHIS (Las Vegas Invitational). We weren’t that high on Baylor, but they do come into this 4-0. Memphis is just 1-1 and hasn’t looked that great this year.