Feast Week 2019 is here, and we're not just talking about Thanksgiving dinner. College hoops fans are in for a treat all week, starting Monday, when the Maui Invitational and a number of other tournaments get underway. This year's marquee event is the Battle 4 Atlantis, which begins Wednesday and features a stacked eight-team field with a number of teams that could conceivably take the crown. We picked out the 10 best tournaments of Thanksgiving week and asked our writers to pick the overall winner.
Michael Shapiro: 23-14
Jeremy Woo: 21-16
Max Meyer: 21-16
Molly Geary: 20-17
Pat Forde: 20-17
Maui Invitational (Nov. 25–27)
The Teams: Michigan State, Kansas, Georgia, Virginia Tech, UCLA, Dayton, BYU, Chaminade
Pat Forde picks Kansas: This is always a must-watch tournament, as much for the b-roll of the beach and ocean and palm trees as the basketball. (Also worth watching: how the ESPN announcing crew manages to display their Kapalua Resort-logo shirts on-air. There is some quid pro quo going on there.) The two marquee teams in this year's event, Kansas and Michigan State, are both seeking to restore some luster after Champions Classic pratfalls. Their company in Maui includes rebuilding Virginia Tech and UCLA, ascending Georgia and always competitive Dayton. But if the final isn't Jayhawks vs. Spartans it will be a surprise.
Roman Legends Classic (Nov. 25–26)
The Teams: Auburn, Wisconsin, Richmond, New Mexico
Molly Geary picks Auburn: This is a nice crop of four teams, all of whom rank within the Top 100 on KenPom. I like Auburn in this one because I think the Tigers' length and athleticism makes them a tough out in a tournament setting. Samir Doughty is having a breakout start to his senior year, and freshman Isaac Okoro is a handful down low, shooting 70% on twos to help make the Tigers one of the country's most efficient teams inside the arc so far. If a Wisconsin-Auburn final materializes, the Badgers could make things close by grinding the game down, as they are wont to do.
Hall of Fame Classic (Nov. 25–26)
The Teams: Butler, Missouri, Oklahoma, Stanford
Michael Shapiro picks Oklahoma: Lon Kruger appears to have another overachieving squad in Norman, banking road wins at Oregon State and at Minnesota. The Sooners appear light defensively inside, but they should sport one of the Big 12’s best offenses as they seek a third straight NCAA tournament appearance. Wichita State transfer Austin Reaves is off to a hot start and Brady Manek is an All-Big 12 candidate. Butler’s defense could provide a tough test in the title game, but Oklahoma should be considered the favorite in Kansas City
Battle 4 Atlantis (Nov. 27–29)
The Teams: North Carolina, Seton Hall, Gonzaga, Oregon, Michigan, Iowa State, Alabama, Southern Miss
Jeremy Woo picks Oregon: This might be the trickiest bracket to assess, with Oregon, North Carolina and Gonzaga all headline-worthy at this stage of the season, a real dark horse in Seton Hall, always-competitive Michigan, Alabama as a wild card, and an Iowa State team that features the best passer in college hoops, Tyrese Haliburton. In these situations, I tend to favor teams with experienced guard play, and the Ducks can lean on Payton Pritchard to run the show, as well as enviable depth. Gonzaga and North Carolina haven’t been tested at all yet, and while Oregon might face the toughest potential route of any team in the field, they have several players who can do serious damage, and I like them to find a way here.
NIT Season Tip-Off (Nov. 27, 29)
The Teams: Ole Miss, Penn State, Oklahoma State, Syracuse
Michael Shapiro picks Ole Miss: The semifinal in the bottom half of this bracket feels like a toss up as Oklahoma State battles Syracuse. Ole Miss should roll past Penn State on Wednesday, and the Rebels’ defensive prowess should be able to propel them to a tournament victory at the Barclays Center. Devontae Shuler is one of the SEC’s best guard defenders. This tournament feels like a bit of a toss-up, but Ole Miss is the best bet after a narrow loss to Memphis on Saturday.
Orlando Invitational (Nov. 28–29, Dec. 1)
The Teams: Maryland, Marquette, USC, Temple, Davidson, Harvard, Texas A&M, Fairfield
Pat Forde picks Maryland: Maryland looks like the muscle here, with the Terrapins off to a dominant 5-0 start against middling competition. They'll get an immediate challenge, though, from 4-0 Temple, which is coming off a road victory over USC (the Trojans are also in this field). If you like offense—and who doesn't, other than perhaps Virginia fans—check out the Marquette-Davidson quarterfinal matchup. Both teams can fill it up.
Wooden Legacy (Nov. 28–29, Dec. 1)
The Teams: Arizona, Providence, Penn, UCF, Wake Forest, Charleston, Pepperdine, Long Beach State
Max Meyer picks Arizona: Providence is the only team I can see in this tournament that can challenge Arizona, however the Friars have already dropped games to Northwestern and Penn. Arizona's resurgence has been keyed by a trio of impressive freshmen in Nico Mannion, Zeke Nnaji and Josh Green. Mannion projects to be a lottery pick in the next NBA draft and is a phenomenal playmaker. Nnaji has been one of the best freshmen in the country thus far, and he's been pretty much automatic in the paint. Despite the dismissal of Devonaire Doutrive, the Wildcats still have enough experience and depth, and they're still a legitimate contender in March. I wish this Wooden Legacy tournament had a couple other bonafide title threats to see how Arizona stacks up, as the Wildcats should easily roll in a field that's this weak.
Barclays Center Classic (Nov. 28)
The Teams: Memphis vs. NC State
Max Meyer picks NC State: Memphis edged Ole Miss in the Tigers' first major test without James Wiseman, but I think they're going to have a tougher time against NC State. The Wolfpack will have no problem playing at Memphis's extremely fast pace, and they're excellent at generating turnovers, which has been one of the Tigers' biggest weaknesses to start the season. NC State also has a much more experienced backcourt, as Markell Johnson, Braxton Beverly and CJ Bryce are all upperclassmen. I wasn't high on this Memphis team before the season because I think it's going to take time to gel with all of the incoming freshmen, and I think the Wolfpack can take advantage here.
Las Vegas Invitational (Nov. 28–29)
The Teams: Texas Tech, Iowa, Creighton, San Diego State
Molly Geary picks Texas Tech: The Red Raiders have yet to be remotely tested this season—their best win through five games has been against Eastern Illinois, ranked 242nd on KenPom—but have taken care of business and have largely shot the ball well. Touted freshman Jahmi'us Ramsey has taken the lion's share of shots when on the floor and is averaging 17.0 points, and Davide Moretti has continued his sharpshooting ways. Iowa and Creighton both have questions defensively, but boast a top-10 offense on KenPom. And San Diego State, with three transfers in its starting lineup, is not to be overlooked. Still, I think Texas Tech, probably the most balanced team of the four, will rise to the occasion of a step up in competition and take the crown.
Emerald Coast Classic (Nov. 29–30)
The Teams: Purdue, Tennessee, Florida State, VCU
Jeremy Woo picks Florida State: This is a sneaky-good quartet of teams, and while it may not be aesthetically pleasing, all three games should be tight. The Seminoles are off to a strong start, and their size and defensive acumen should help them win out in what should be low-scoring environments.