On Holiday: Paradise, Coaches, 2K, more
On Holiday is College Basketball Nation's daily rundown of the holiday tournaments, complete with previews, recaps, and links to all of the early-season tournament info you'll need in the weeks to come.
What happened Thursday? What didn't happen Thursday? Much of the day's insanity was covered late Thursday night by your humble holiday tournament correspondent, and you can kind of get everything you need to know by reading Casual Hoya comment threads … so let's just move on.
PUERTO RICO TIP-OFF (updated bracket), not the holiday tournament we deserve, but the one we need right now: I don't really know what that means, but then again I don't know what to make of a tournament in which Kansas State and Georgetown are facing off in the semifinals of the loser's bracket, with VCU on a straight line down the page. Charlotte fans especially have to be stoked: A chance to beat a struggling Kansas State team in November is all well and good, but a second-round defensive battle with Northeastern could well put Alan Major's 49ers into the final. Whoever gets there would surely relish a chance to play Michigan, but the Wolverines themselves first have to get past an unbeaten Florida State team that turned the ball over to VCU on 29.1 percent of its possessions and still won by 18 points Thursday night. "Go figure" is the unofficial motto in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, thus far.
2K SPORTS CLASSIC, where things stayed relatively sane: I qualify with "relatively" because Shabazz Napier and Connecticut needed everything they could muster to get past a 1-3 Boston College team that suddenly -- if only for a Thursday night -- figured out how to guard the perimeter. Indiana had fewer issues with Washington, which showcased some promising perimeter stuff but looks drastically understaffed on the block. This sets up a rather excellent (and certainly brand-dominant) UConn-IU showdown in Madison Square Garden Friday night.
Thursday was a coming out party of sorts for Indiana's freshmen. Forward Noah Vonleh, a top-15 player in the loaded 2013 class, showcased the result of his near-legendary offseason workout regimen; the dude went from "beanpole" to "hoss" in the matter of, like, three months. But IU's most impressive new player Thursday night was Troy Williams, a hyper-athletic wing who shot the ball well and attacked the rim in thrilling fashion. The Victor Oladipo comparisons are already being thrown about. Now let's see what all this means against IU's first truly quality opponent.
CHARLESTON CLASSIC (updated bracket), where New Mexico survived: It took two overtimes and a couple of 3s at the buzzer -- one of them a 40-foot Kendall Williams heave -- but the Lobos fought on. Next up is UMass, where senior guard Chaz Williams and the Minutemen -- already one of the fastest teams in the country the past three seasons -- are using the new, high-scoring college game to full advantage.
JOINING THE PARTY
PARADISE JAM (bracket): With all due respect to the rest of a solid field -- and in full understanding of the fact that crazy things happen in single-elimination settings -- the Paradise Jam is Providence's tournament. Or, at the very least, Bryce Cotton, Kadeem Batts) and emerging sophomores (Josh Fortune, Tyler Harris, former top-five guard prospect Kris Dunn, who is still recovering from a shoulder injury) get a mix of totally winnable but nonetheless intriguing tests. The first comes in Friday’s opening round against a depleted Vanderbilt. The especially interesting stuff comes later with a possible second-round matchup with La Salle, and a shot, if seeds hold, to play Maryland in the title game next week.”
COACHES VS. CANCER (schedule): Can Michigan State shake off two ugly home wins -- a near-disaster (averted by the Izzone, no less) against Columbia and a not-much-better win over Portland -- to handle what should be a pretty straightforward pair of games in Brooklyn?