Daily Word: Holiday tournaments
Every weekday, Andy Katz leads a panel of our college hoops experts in a discussion of the biggest issues, trends and themes happening in and around college basketball.
1. Who has the most to gain in the Maui Invitational?
Andy Katz: Dayton. The Flyers open up with Gonzaga. Dayton just won at Georgia Tech. If the Flyers can knock off the Zags and get to a final, let's say against Syracuse, they would definitely arrive back on the mainland in the top 25.
C.L. Brown: Baylor seems to alternate playing up to its potential and playing down to its competition. That kind of inconsistent play won't work in Maui. If the Bears play like they did in their 69-64 win over Charleston Southern, Gonzaga or Dayton is fully capable of knocking them off assuming Chaminade doesn't do it first.
Myron Medcalf: Probably Minnesota. Richard Pitino is off to a strong start in his first year at the school. A new style and system could boost the program in Maui, where the Gophers will have a shot at Syracuse in the first round.
2. Do you trust UNC to get the job done against Richmond and set up the marquee matchup with Louisville in the Hall of Fame Tipoff?
Katz: No. Richmond still isn't shooting well on from 3-point range and has a green frontcourt. But the Tar Heels have done little to give anyone confidence they are a safe pick. UNC still has more talent at each position, but now lacks depth. This will be a great test for the Tar Heels to lock in on Richmond and not think about Louisville. UNC could have this current roster for quite some time.
Brown: Yes. As limited as the Tar Heels are right now, they actually showed signs that they are improving offensively. And surely they won't miss 26 free throws for a second straight game. Will they?
Medcalf: No, I don't. This is a Richmond team that beat the same Belmont squad that upset North Carolina last weekend. I'm not completely into the transitive thing but UNC is still rocky right now. And the absence of Leslie McDonald and P.J. Hairston won't help.
3. The Coaches vs. Cancer gets underway tonight. Michigan State is the obvious favorite. Who's your dark horse: Oklahoma, Seton Hall or Virginia Tech?
Andy Katz: If we have to pick one, it's Oklahoma. The Sooners are supposed to be in rebuild mode, but could ugly the game up a bit to contend with the Spartans. Still, this is one of the weaker fields the Spartans have been in during a November tournament.
Brown: Oklahoma probably has the most talent of the remaining teams not named Michigan State. Sophomore Buddy Hield is off to a great start, averaging 18.3 points and shooting 48.7 percent from the field.
Medcalf: I'll go with Lon Kruger's squad. Oklahoma is 3-0 and it has a strong backcourt. I think Hield and Co. have the best shot at scoring the upset.
Games To Watch
Towson vs. Kansas, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN3
Before heading for Paradise Island and the Battle 4 Atlantis, the undefeated Jayhawks host Towson. The Tigers beat Temple, but didn't show much bite in a road loss to Villanova on Sunday.
Va. Tech vs. Michigan St., 9:30 p.m. ET
Opening night of the Coaches vs. Cancer classic ends with the No. 1 ranked team in the country taking on a Virginia Tech team that lost its season opener to USC Upstate before rebounding with three straight wins.
They Said It
ESPNU Basketball Podcast
Andy Katz and Seth Greenberg check in with newsmakers from around college basketball.