Thursday, November 28, 2013

It's Happy Thanksgiving: Yes, we can talk College Basketball now

College Basketball has been on, since early November, but as a big College Football fan ... it a little ahead of our natural sports clock.

GoCreighton.comToday is Thanksgiving, so we are thankful our two teams, #20/18 Creighton and #23 Iowa, tip-off with basketball games this evening. As the Thanksgiving arrives, the blending of both basketball with football is easier to enjoy.

Packers @ Lions to kickoff the Thanksgiving afternoon ... than the Hawkeyes and Bluejays in the evening on the hardwood!

It's time for a little business: College Basketball over the Thanksgiving holidays!
Doug McDermott
Creighton all-American, senior forward Doug McDermott,
an Iowa native, leads the Jays upward in the two College Basketball polls,
after jumping off to a 4-0 start in 2013-14.
The Creighton basketball team has a historic season in 2013-14, as coach Greg McDermott, along with all-American son, Doug, help transition the Jays from the MVC to the Big East Conference. The Jays have picked up back to back solid wins at St. Joseph's and vs. Tulsa, after two cupcakes to open the season at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha.

 Doug McDermott became Creighton's first player to open the season with four straight 20-point performances since Cyril Baptiste in 1969-70. Creighton is now 44-0 all-time in home games on or before Nov. 26th

Tonight on ESPN2 at 10 p.m., the undefeated Creighton Jays (4-0) will  play in The Wooden Legacy against the undefeated Arizona State Sun Devils (6-0) in a rematch of last year's Holiday week tournament in Las Vegas.
Senior Roy Devyn Marble and the UI men's basketball team faces Xavier today at 6 p.m. (CT).
Iowa senior SG
Roy Devyn Marble
leads the Hawkeyes
against Xavier with a
6 p.m. tip off on NBC Sports.
Prior to Creighton-Arizona State, the undefeated Iowa Hawkeyes (5-0) will square off with Xavier Musketeers (5-0) in the first round of the Battle 4 Atlantis from Paradise Island, The Bahamas on NBCSports (DirecTV 220) at 6 p.m.  Butler, Creighton and Xavier are all new members of the Big East Conference in 2013-14.

"We're playing very well, but we've beaten teams everybody expected us to beat," said Iowa coach Fran McCaffery of Iowa's 5-0 start. "Now we're playing teams that people aren't sure if we're going to beat. (I want us) to go out and play well against those teams and compete in a way that exemplifies our capability moving forward."

For the first time this season, Iowa will square off against competition that can match-up athletically and depth-wise. The Hawkeyes have 10 players averaging at least 15 minutes per game.

"This is a field where you have more teams like us in terms of they have 10 good players," said McCaffery. "It is going to be an interesting three days for us."

Below is a team-by-team rundown of the Battle 4 Atlantis field. Iowa will play Xavier today, UTEP or Tennessee on Friday and one team from the group of Kansas, Villanova, Wake Forest and Southern California on Saturday

"I am very excited," said sophomore transfer Jarrod Uthoff, who played at Cedar Rapids Jefferson. "It should be a great test for us, playing Xavier, Tennessee or UTEP, and if we win those two, probably Kansas."

Plenty of teams this week will be looking to move up into the polls.  Iowa, Kansas and Creighton all will seek to remain or stay at a high level.

Xavier (5-0)
Xavier is currently 5-0 after downing Abilene Christian, 93-65, on Nov. 25. The Muskateers are led by guard Semaj Christon, who averages 16.4 points and five assists per game. Christon was a 2012-13 Kyle Macy Freshman All-American. Matt Steinbrook averages 10.2 points, 9.2 rebounds and has 13 blocks. Xavier has advanced to the NCAA Tournament in seven of the last eight seasons, which includes three trips to the Sweet 16 and one Elite Eight appearance.

Tennessee (3-1)
The Volunteers have reeled off three-straight victories since falling to Xavier, 67-63, in their regular-season opener. Tennessee has three players averaging in double digits with Jordan McRae leading the team with a 21.5 scoring average. Jarnell Stokes (11.5 points, 8.3 rebounds) and Antonio Barton (10.8 points) also average 10+ points. The Vols have played in the postseason in each of the past eight years, which includes back-to-back appearances in the National Invitation Tournament under head coach Cuonzo Martin.

UTEP (3-2)
The Miners bring a 3-2 record to the Bahamas with both losses coming to New Mexico State. UTEP has four players averaging in double figures with McKenzie Moore leading the team with 14 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists, while Vince Hunter adds 10.2 points and 7.4 rebounds. The Miners are led by former Iowa State head coach Tim Floyd.

Kansas (4-0) - Ranked #2 nationally
The Jayhawks are currently ranked second in both the Coaches' and Associated Press polls and bring a 4-0 record into the Battle 4 Atlantis. Kansas defeated fourth-ranked Duke, 94-83, in the Champions Classic on Nov. 12. The Jayhawks are led by freshman Andrew Wiggins (16.8 points, 6.3 rebounds and sophomore Perry Ellis (16.8 points, seven rebounds). Kansas has made 24-straight NCAA Tournament appearances -- the longest streak nationally -- and won nine-straight Big 12 regular season titles.

Villanova (4-0)
The Wildcats bring a 4-0 record into the tournament following an 84-80 victory over Delaware on Nov. 22. Villanova has three players averaging in double figures with JayVaughn Pinkston pacing the team at 20.3 points per game. James Bell averages 18 points and seven rebounds, while Darrun Hilliard chips in 14 points to go along with a team-best 17 assists. The Wildcats have played in the NCAA Tournament in seven of the last eight seasons.

Wake Forest (5-0)
The Demon Deacons are 5-0 this season under fourth-year head coach Jeff Bzdelik. Wake Forest has four players averaging double digits with Codi Miller-McIntyre leading the way with 18.6 points and 24 assists. Big man Devin Thomas averages 14.4 points and an ACC-best 11.6 rebounds. The Demon Deacons haven't played in the NCAA Tournament since 2010.

Southern California (4-1)
The Trojans have reeled off four-straight victories since falling 78-65 to Utah State in their season debut. USC has three players averaging in double figures with Byron Wesley pacing the squad with 19.8 points and 8.8 rebounds. The Trojans are led by first-year head coach Andy Enfield, who led Florida Gulf Coast to the Sweet 16 last season.

Two Big East programs, Xavier and Villanova are among the Battle 4 Atlantis participants, so Creighton fans may want to take a sneak peak of two teams that will be coming to CenturyLink during the conference schedule in 2013.

Happy Thanksgiving, Black Friday and the holiday, shopping weekend!
  • Creighton at The Wooden Legacy
  • Iowa at the Battle 4 Atlantis
  • Iowa @ Nebraska in the Heroes Game III on Friday at 11 a.m. on ABC for College Football

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