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Monday, November 21, 2011
Feast Week Preview: Predictions, brackets

By ESPN.com staff

This is one of the greatest weeks of the season, a week in which tournament games fill our televisions and computer screens nearly all day long. Before things tip off in Maui, let's take a look at what 11 of our experts project for each of the major tourney finals. Feel free to leave your own predictions in the comments section ... and let the debate begin!

Battle 4 Atlantis (in the Bahamas)
Tournament Bracket

Bilas: Connecticut over Florida State
Brennan: Connecticut over Florida State
Fraschilla: Connecticut over Florida State
Gasaway: Connecticut over Harvard
Gottlieb: Florida State over Connecticut
Katz: Connecticut over Florida State
King: Connecticut over Florida State
Lunardi: Connecticut over Florida State
Medcalf: Connecticut over Florida State
O’Neil: Connecticut over Florida State
Simon: Connecticut over Florida State

Don’t be surprised …
... if Harvard gives the Seminoles all they can handle. This would only be a minor upset if the Ivy League favorites win this game. (Fraschilla)
... if Alex Oriakhi and Andre Drummond dominate the offensive glass for the Huskies. UConn is pulling down better than half of its own misses this season. (Gasaway)
... Florida State and its suffocating defense beats Connecticut in a low scoring final. FSU is experienced and UConn will get its first taste of equal athleticism. Watch for Bernard James to score on jump hooks. If they limit their turnovers, Noles will win. (Gottlieb)
... if Harvard is playing UMass for the right to play in the final. The Minutemen have been reborn with the addition of Hofstra transfer Chaz Williams as lead guard. The Seminoles are still an unknown at lead guard and UMass could expose them there. (Katz)
... if FSU beats UConn. Leonard Hamilton's teams play some of the best defense in the country, and Bernard James can hang with Connecticut's big guys inside. (Simon)
... if Connecticut’s Andre Drummond makes significant strides. The Huskies’ freshman forward has averaged just 5.8 points and 6.3 rebounds in his first four games. But his numbers should greatly increase as he gets more comfortable on the court. (King)
... if Harvard makes it an all-New England final with the Crimson taking on UConn. Harvard has the chops to upset Florida State. (Bilas)

Old Spice Classic (in Orlando, Fla.)
Tournament Bracket

Bilas: Minnesota over Fairfield
Brennan: Minnesota over Dayton
Fraschilla: Minnesota over Fairfield
Gasaway: Minnesota over Fairfield
Gottlieb: Minnesota over Fairfield
Katz: Minnesota over Fairfield
King: Minnesota over Wake Forest
Lunardi: Minnesota over Fairfield
Medcalf: Minnesota over Arizona State
O’Neil: Minnesota over Fairfield
Simon: Minnesota over Fairfield

Don’t be surprised …
... if Trevor Mbakwe averages a double-double and wins the Old Spice's MVP Award. (Fraschilla)
... if a complete wild-card comes out of the bottom part of the bracket. Fairfield has the most talent, but has struggled so far this season. But Dayton, Wake Forest or Arizona State haven't exactly inspired a lot of confidence either. (Katz)
... if Indiana State ends up in the title game. A first-round victory against Texas Tech and a semifinal win against Minnesota are both doable. (King)
... if Trevor Mbakwe shoots a free throw or two. Incredibly, the Golden Gophers' 6-8 senior is averaging 18 points a game while attempting twice as many shots from the line as from the field. (Gasaway)
... if Fairfield uses a Nov. 17 loss to Gophers as motivation to reach the title game and redeem itself. (Medcalf)
... if Arizona State makes a run in this tourney. Herb Sendek's zone defense is one of the most difficult to prepare for and keeps them in a lot of games. (Simon)
... if two mid-majors meet in the championship game. The Old Spice has the most wide-open field of any tournament this season. (Bilas)
... if no one from this field makes the NCAA tournament. (Lunardi)

76 Classic (in Anaheim, Calif.)
Tournament Bracket

Bilas: Villanova over New Mexico
Brennan: Saint Louis over New Mexico
Fraschilla: Saint Louis over Oklahoma
Gasaway: Saint Louis over New Mexico
Gottlieb: Saint Louis over New Mexico
Katz: Saint Louis over New Mexico
King: Villanova over Oklahoma
Lunardi: Saint Louis over New Mexico
Medcalf: Saint Louis over Washington State
O’Neil: New Mexico over Villanova
Simon: Saint Louis over New Mexico

Don’t be surprised …
... if a tournament win by the Billikins propels them onto the national scene for the first time since Rick Majerus arrived. This is a very good basketball team. (Fraschilla)
... if a veteran Santa Clara team gives the Lobos all they can handle in the opening game. (O'Neil)
... if teams playing SLU score very few points. Rick Majerus knows a thing or two about defense. In three games, the Billikens have allowed opponents to score just 143 points in 191 possessions. (Gasaway)
... if Steve Alford's Lobos put a recent home loss to New Mexico State behind them with a run to the tourney title game. (Medcalf)
... if Saint Louis upsets Villanova and reaches the final. This is Rick Majerus' best team. (Bilas)
... if New Mexico's lack of point guard experience comes back to haunt the Lobos in the title game. (Gottlieb)
... if the Billikens win this tourney. Rick Majerus is one of the best game-planners in the country, and I should know since he was able to stifle my Arizona team in the 1998 Elite Eight with a triangle-and-2 defense. (Simon)

Maui Invitational
Tournament Bracket

Jay Bilas: Duke over Kansas
Eamonn Brennan: Memphis over Kansas
Fran Fraschilla: Duke over Kansas
John Gasaway: Duke over Kansas
Doug Gottlieb: Memphis over Kansas
Andy Katz: Duke over Georgetown
Jason King: Duke over Kansas
Joe Lunardi: Duke over Kansas
Myron Medcalf: Kansas over Duke
Dana O’Neil: Memphis over Georgetown
Miles Simon: Duke over Kansas

Don’t be surprised …
... if Chaminade gives UCLA a run for its money. The Silverswords scared Michigan State a year ago and the Bruins already look like a team on the brink. (O'Neil)
... if Thomas Robinson is the dominant player in the tournament. He will give the Jayhawks a chance to beat the Blue Devils in the finals. (Fraschilla)
... if UCLA continues to self-destruct. Reeves Nelson missing the team flight to Maui is yet another example of this team's dysfunctional nature. (Katz)
... if Georgetown beats Kansas in the first round. Hoyas guard Jason Clark is one of the country’s most underrated players and Georgetown’s strength -- experience and depth in the frontcourt -- is KU's most glaring weakness. (King)
... if Memphis' speed and athleticism prove to be too much for the field and Will Barton -- not Thomas Robinson -- is the best player on the Island. (Medcalf)
... if the worrying about UCLA continues and intensifies. (Gasaway)
... if there aren't many close games in Lahaina. (Lunardi)
... if Memphis makes a run to the title with their speed and athleticism. (Simon)
... if UCLA loses two games in Maui. (Gottlieb)
... if Memphis wins this tournament and UCLA leaves Maui winless against Division I opponents. The Bruins are not confident right now and need for Lazeric Jones to play well at the point. (Bilas)
... if Chaminade pulls the first-round upset against UCLA. (Brennan)

CBE Classic (in Kansas City)
Monday: Missouri vs. Notre Dame (7:30 ET, ESPN2); California vs. Georgia (10 ET, ESPN2)
Tuesday: Third-place game (7:45 ET, ESPNU); Championship Game (10 ET, ESPN2)

Bilas: California over Missouri
Brennan: Missouri over California
Fraschilla: Notre Dame over California
Gasaway: Missouri over California
Gottlieb: California over Missouri
Katz: Missouri over California
King: California over Notre Dame
Lunardi: Missouri over California
Medcalf: California over Missouri
O’Neil: Missouri over California
Simon: California over Missouri

Don’t be surprised …
... if Mizzou's small lineup, a byproduct of the loss of Laurence Bowers, is more effective than people expect. (O'Neil)
... if a freshman, Pat Connaughton or Jerian Grant, leads the Irish in scoring in this event. Mike Brey trusts both of these guys more than he usually trusts freshmen. (Fraschilla)
... if Cal wins this tournament with ease. The Golden Bears are the best team in the Pac-12, at least for the moment, and Missouri is playing its first season under new coach Frank Haith. (King)
... if Missouri looks like a team that can win the Big 12. The Tigers will look to push the basketball more in a four-guard look and will also have a heavy home-court advantage. (Katz)
... if Frank Haith's Tigers have some stellar offensive numbers after playing two permissive defenses: Notre Dame and Cal. (Gasaway)
... if Cal wallops Missouri by double-digits and three Bears' guards score 13 or more points. (Medcalf)
... if Jorge Gutierrez is the best player on the floor. He does a little bit of everything for his team to win. (Simon)
... if the Irish wind up winning the CBE Classic. Free Abro! (Bilas)
... if Cal's Justin Cobbs has a breakout game against Missouri. He has stuggled with his shooting and turnovers, but his ability to break down pressure defense with penetration is what the Bears sorely needed last season. (Gottlieb)

NIT Season Tip-Off (in New York)
Tournament Bracket

Bilas: Syracuse over Oklahoma State
Brennan: Syracuse over Stanford
Fraschilla: Syracuse over Oklahoma State
Gasaway: Syracuse over Stanford
Gottlieb: Syracuse over Oklahoma State
Katz: Syracuse over Oklahoma State
King: Syracuse over Oklahoma State
Lunardi: Syracuse over Oklahoma State
Medcalf: Syracuse over Oklahoma State
O’Neil: Syracuse over Oklahoma State
Simon: Syracuse over Stanford

Don’t be surprised …
... if Fab Melo has a breakout game against a depleted Virginia Tech team. (O'Neil)
... if Jim Boeheim says that this is his deepest team in years. Redshirting top-50 recruit Trevor Cooney is one indication. (Fraschilla)
... if Virginia Tech is the team that leaves New York 0-2. (Katz)
... if Dion Waiters fills up the stat sheet for Jim Boeheim's team. So far this year the 6-foot-4 sophomore's creating healthy surpluses in points, assists and even steals. (Gasaway)
... if Stanford defeats Oklahoma State. The Cowboys and highly touted freshman LeBryan Nash needed overtime to defeat Texas-San Antonio just to get here. (King)
... if freshman Le'Bryan Nash feeds off the spotlight and spurs Austin Rivers-like buzz with a breakout performance in New York City. (Medcalf)
... if Jim Boeheim loses his temper a few times. (Lunardi)
... if Stanford pulls off the upset of Oklahoma State. The Cardinal are young, but capable of winning. (Bilas)
... if Kris Joseph takes over for the Orange when they need a bucket. Syracuse is far and away the class of this event. (Gottlieb)
... if Stanford and Oklahoma State both manage to impress -- no matter which team wins the game. (Brennan)