Here’s the good news about the Big Five this week: Even with most of the league participating in multi-team events and thus making most of their schedules unavailable for use here and even with Thanksgiving blocking out the schedule for everyone else, I still managed to find five games to highlight without needing to rely on pretending that we’re all excited about the Georgetown-Oregon game in Maui. KenPom claims that the Hoyas have a 31% chance of winning that game, but let’s be honest: they are strictly in “NO ONE BELIEVES IN US” territory here until the hang another W on someone.
Last Week: 3-2 (thanks for nothing, Georgetown and.... Marquette. Dammit.)
This Season: 3-2
Wednesday, November 23: St. John’s vs #24 Michigan State (Battle 4 Atlantis, 6pm CT, AXS TV) - Now, yes, this might seem like a bit of a mismatch right away, but realize this: Michigan State is 2-2 after losses to Arizona and Kentucky and maaaaaaybe should be 1-3 after a referee screwup led to Florida Gulf Coast rushing a shot that could have won them the game in East Lansing. The Red Storm dropped their Gavitt Tipoff Game to Minnesota last week, so they’re going to be hungry for a victory. I know I won’t be watching this game because I don’t get AXS TV. I JUST WANNA WATCH NEW JAPAN, DAMMIT.
Thursday, November 24: Butler vs Vanderbilt (Las Vegas Invitational, 7pm CT, FS1) - The Bulldogs are 3-0 on the season, including a last second victory over Northwestern. They’ll host Norfolk State on Monday night before heading out to Sin City for this event. Vanderbilt put thumpings on Belmont and Norfolk State after losing to Marquette in their opener, so they’ll be ready and willing to give the Bulldogs their best shot.
Thursday, November 24: Seton Hall vs Florida (Advocare Invitational, 7:30pm CT, ESPN2) - The Pirates weren’t favored to beat Iowa in Iowa City as part of the Gavitt Games, but they came away with a 91-83 victory. Now they’re not favored to beat the Gators in the opening round of the event that used to be the Old Spice Classic. Florida has yet to be tested this season, so it could turn into a bloodbath when they run into the buzzsaw that is the Seton Hall Pirates. Both teams are getting votes in the Associated Press poll, so it’s reasonable to think that the winner could end up ranked next week.
Friday, November 25: Providence vs Memphis (Emerald Coast Classic, 8:30pm CT, CBS Sports Network) - The prevailing thought on the Friars this season was that they couldn’t be good this season after losing Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil. I don’t think we can draw real conclusions from their beatdowns of Vermont or Grambling, but a narrow loss on the road to an Ohio State team that a lot of people are optimistic about this year? Maybe moral victories are stupid, but maybe Ed Cooley is going to keep things in a positive direction. Memphis hasn’t played anyone PAWWWWWWWWWWWL, so much like Florida, maybe they get caught off guard with a step up in competition level.
Saturday, November 26: #9 Xavier vs Northern Iowa (11am CT, Fox Sports Regional Networks) - Ah, you think this is the lone game in the Big Five that’s not part of a multi-team event, but you’re wrong! Well, kind of. See, this was also the championship of the Tire Pros Invitational, but the two teams are going to hook it up in Cincinnati just six days later. Xavier won the first meeting 67-59 after things were knotted at 30 at the half.