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Men’s College Basketball: Top games to watch

It’s Thanksgiving week, which for men’s college basketball usually means some great matchups at tournaments around the country.

The cream of the crop is almost always the Maui Invitational, which is again stacked with a premium field of schools, including top-ranked Kansas and No. 2 Purdue. 

No. 3 Arizona gets another stiff test, while Top 25 teams like Creighton, Arkansas and Alabama get tricky non-conference games this week. 

Here are some of the top men’s basketball games coming up this week.

No. 2 Purdue v No. 11 Gonzaga

WhereStan Sheriff Center, Honolulu, Hawaii
When5 PM ET, Monday, November 20
How to watchESPN
OddsPurdue -5.0, Gonzaga +175 ML

After a Tennessee v Syracuse appetizer, the Maui Invitational kicks into gear with second-ranked Purdue taking on No. 11 Gonzaga. 

It will have been a week since the Boilermakers knocked off Xavier, 81-73, behind Zach Edey’s 28 points and 11 rebounds. 

More will be expected from the reigning John Wooden Award winner against the Bulldogs, who are the -140 favorites to win the West Coast Conference.

With Drew Timme finally out of eligibility, Gonzaga turns to forwards Graham Ike, Braden Huff and Anton Watson and guards Nolan Hickman and Ryan Nembhard. 

Ike had a team-high 25 points as Gonzaga routed NAIA team Eastern Oregon its last time out, 123-57.

No. 24 James Madison v Southern Illinois

WhereHard Rock Hotel, Riviera Maya, Mexico
When6 PM ET, Tuesday, November 21
How to watchESPN

The Dukes won their first game ever as a ranked team with a 76-73 victory over Radford Friday night. James Madison is now 4-0 and guard Terrance Edwards (20 ppg) leads four Dukes in double figures right now. 

He had a game-high 21 points in the win over Radford, while T.J. Bickerstaff (20 points, eight rebounds) and Julien Wooden (15 points) contributed to the win. 

The team now faces 3-0 Southern Illinois in Cancun, Mexico. The Salukis are led by Xavier Johnson, who's scoring 19.7 points a game.

No. 8 Creighton v Loyola Chicago

WhereT-Mobile Center, Kansas City, Missouri
When9 PM ET, Wednesday, November 22
How to watchESPN

The 2022-23 season was one to remember for the Bluejays, who finished 24-13 and reached their first Elite Eight since 1941. 

Coach Greg McDermott has led his team to the NCAA tournament eight times during his tenure, and big things are expected of the No. 8 Bluejays again this season. 

Two-time Big East Defensive Player of the Year Ryan Kalkbrenner was the conference’s preseason Player of the Year, and he forms a solid trio with Trey Alexander and Baylor Scheierman.

The three combined average 52 points, 19 rebounds and 13 assists a game. Creighton is off to a 4-0 start, including a 92-84 win over Iowa, and faces recent tournament darling Loyola Chicago. 

The Ramblers reached the Final Four in 2018 and the Sweet 16 in 2021, but dropped to 10-21 in their first season in the Atlantic 10 Conference last year. 

Coach Drew Valentine’s team is 2-2 so far this year and led by Desmond Watson at 15.8 points a game.

No. 3 Arizona v No. 18 Michigan State

WhereAcrisure Arena, Palm Springs, California
When1 PM ET, Thursday, November 23
How to watchFox

The third-ranked Wildcats had a lighter week coming off their big win at Duke. 

Coach Tommy Lloyd’s squad handled Southern and Belmont by a combined 70 points and now, after a Sunday night tune-up against UT-Arlington, head to Palm Springs to take on No. 18 Michigan State on Thanksgiving night. 

Keshad Johnson has made a seamless transition from San Diego State, leading Arizona with 14 points and 6.5 rebounds a game. 

Point guard Rylan Boswell earned Pac-12 All-Freshman honors last season and now has 13.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and four assists a game for Arizona. 

The Wildcats feature six players averaging in double figures. Caleb Love, Motiejus Krivas, Oumar Ballo and Pelle Larsson are all contributing between 11-and-13 points a game for Arizona. 

The Spartans dropped a Top-25 matchup with Duke on Tuesday before defeating Butler, 74-54 Friday night. 

Tyson Walker has led the team in scoring all four games this season and is averaging 23 points a contest.

No. 22 Alabama v Ohio State

WhereRaider Arena at Northwest Florida State, Niceville, Florida
When1 PM ET, Friday, November 24
How to watchCBS Sports Network

Coach Nate Oats has been as good as advertised at Alabama. After leading Buffalo to three NCAA Tournament appearances, Oats landed with the Crimson Tide. 

He has taken them to a 92-42 record in four years at the helm, including three straight NCAA Tournament appearances. The Tide went 31-6, won the SEC Tournament and earned a No. 1 seed last season, but fell to San Diego State in the Sweet 16. 

Oats lost freshman phenom Brandon Miller to the NBA and is navigating a new season just inside the Top 25. Mark Sears leads the team at 19.5 points a game, followed by Aaron Estrada (15.3), Grant Nelson (13.8) and Jarin Stevenson (10.3). 

Alabama has yet to be tested this season, winning its four games by an average of 35 points. That changes Friday when the Crimson Tide face Ohio State in the Emerald Coast Classic tournament in Florida. Ohio State is off to a 2-1 start, as the Buckeyes tested No. 15 Texas A&M a week ago before falling, 73-66. 

The team has made the NCAA Tournament all four possible seasons in the first five years of head coach Chris Holtmann’s tenure, but dropped to 16-19 last year. 

Holtmann probably needs a strong rebound campaign this year to hold on to the top job in Columbus. The Buckeyes have been led by three different scores in their first three games. 

Bruce Thornton (16.3 ppg), Roddy Gayle Jr. (15.3), Zed Key (12) and Jamison Battle (10.7) are all scoring in double figures for Ohio State.

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