Winners and Losers of the College Basketball Holiday Tournaments

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistNovember 26, 2012

Winners and Losers of the College Basketball Holiday Tournaments

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    Teams across the college basketball universe played in a multitude of tournaments during the Thanksgiving holiday week, from New York City to Maui and everywhere in between.

    The tournament that gained the most attention was the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas, which had four ranked teams competing in the eight-team field. 

    There were plenty of other big-name matchups in the other tournaments that occurred during the holiday weekend as well.

    Here is the recap of the winners and losers from all the holiday tournament action around college basketball.

Winner: Quinn Cook

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    Going into the Battle 4 Atlantis, the player to watch on the Duke roster was Mason Plumlee.

    Coming out of the tournament in the Bahamas, the most valuable player for the Blue Devils was guard Quinn Cook. 

    Cook earned the tournament Most Valuable Player award thanks to his 15-point performance in the championship game against Louisville. 

    Cook matured in the Bahamas and will be a key player for the Blue Devils for the rest of the season, including Wednesday night's showdown with Ohio State at Cameron Indoor Stadium. 

Loser: Memphis

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    Memphis went into the Battle 4 Atlantis ranked 19th in the nation and left the Bahamas with a disappointing 1-2 record in the tournament. 

    The Tigers lost to a tough VCU team in the quarterfinals and then were shocked by Minnesota in a consolation game the next day.

    Josh Pastner's team did not leave the Bahamas empty-handed as they sneaked out a 52-47 win over Northern Iowa in their final consolation game. 

    There is no doubt that the Tigers will fall out of the Top 25 when it is released on Monday. 

Winner: Andre Hollins

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    Andre Hollins is from Memphis, Tennessee, but he was not recruited at all by the Tigers.

    On Friday at the Battle 4 Atlantis, the Minnesota sophomore guard showed Memphis what they missed out on. 

    Hollins scored 41 points in the Gophers' 84-75 win over Memphis in a consolation game of the tournament in the Bahamas.

    However, Hollins was not able to duplicate that performance on Saturday, when he had just eight points in his team's win over Stanford. 

Loser: Shabazz Muhammad

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    Shabazz Muhammad was finally eligible to play for UCLA on Monday against Georgetown, but he failed to lead the Bruins to victory in the semifinal of the Progressive Legends Classic. 

    The loss to the Hoyas ruined any chances of a dream game with Indiana in the tournament final. 

    Muhammad scored 15 points off the bench for Ben Howland's team in the loss. 

    A potential game with Indiana on the East Coast would have given fans east of Los Angeles a chance to see how UCLA would perform against a big team.

    The Bruins do not play on the national stage much this season, with their next ranked opponent being San Diego State in a game that will mainly draw fans from the West Coast with its late start time. 

Winner: Otto Porter

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    The breakout player from that UCLA-Georgetown semifinal game was Georgetown's Otto Porter. 

    Porter had a strong showing in the Hoyas' upset of the 11th-ranked Bruins with 18 points and 11 rebounds.

    Porter also had a strong game against Indiana in the Progressive Legends Classic final with 15 points, but the Hoyas were unable to beat the top-ranked Hoosiers. 

Loser: Texas

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    Texas was on the wrong end of the biggest upset from the holiday tournaments. 

    The Longhorns were embarrassed by Chaminade in the quarterfinals of the Maui Invitational, 86-73. 

    The week got worse for the Longhorns when they lost to USC on Tuesday in overtime. 

    Rick Barnes' team did get a consolation win over Mississippi State during the last day of tournament play, but it did not make up for the disappointing losses suffered in the first games in Maui. 

Winner: West Coast Mid-Majors

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    The mid-major teams on the West Coast do not get enough attention as the mid-majors on the East Coast. 

    In the holiday tournaments, three mid-majors from the West stole the headlines.

    Gonzaga continued its strong start to the season with the Old Spice Classic championship, and New Mexico did the same at the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands. 

    The third mid-major came out of nowhere to make the final of the DirecTV Classic in Anaheim as Pacific took down Xavier and St. Mary's on its way to the tournament final against Cal. 

Loser: East Coast Mid-Majors in Anaheim

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    Two of the biggest mid-major teams from last season, Xavier and Drexel, failed to pull off any big wins at the DirecTV Classic in Anaheim.

    Both teams fell in their first-round games and faced off against each other in a consolation game that meant little and was won by Xavier. 

    Drexel left Anaheim with a 1-2 record after beating Rice in its final game, while Xavier finished 2-1 with a win over Drake. Both teams could have benefited from strong wins this weekend in Anaheim instead of battling in the consolation bracket. 

Winner: The Indiana Supporting Cast

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    Going into the season, the attention around Indiana basketball was focused solely on Cody Zeller.

    After the two games that the Hoosiers played in the Progressive Legends Classic last week, the nation knows more about the supporting cast around Zeller.

    Against Georgia, Victor Oladipo stepped up for the Hoosiers. The junior guard led the team with 15 points.

    The next night against Georgetown, Jordan Hulls led the Hoosiers to a win over the Hoyas.

    The Hoosiers proved that they can rely on other players if Zeller is shut down, like he was against Georgia, which is one of the true signs of a championship-worthy team. 

Loser: Cody Zeller

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    In one of his early chances to make a name for himself on the national stage, Cody Zeller failed to do anything spectacular at the Progressive Legends Classic in Brooklyn. 

    Zeller only scored six points against Georgia as his teammates picked up his slack and defeated the Bulldogs. 

    Against Georgetown, the sophomore forward did score 17 points, but he only shot 4-of-11 from the field and did not have a dominant performance.

    The good news for Zeller is that he will have plenty of other chances to impress the national audience this season, beginning with Tuesday's ACC-Big Ten Challenge clash with North Carolina. 

Winner: Neutral Fans in Maui

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    If you went to the Maui Invitational as a neutral fan looking for great underdog stories, you went to the right place.

    There were plenty of upsets at the tournament, which started with Chaminade taking down Texas in the quarterfinals.

    On Tuesday, Butler shocked the crowds with a 72-61 defeat of North Carolina in the semifinals.

    The upsets were not over on Wednesday, as Butler fell to Illinois in the tournament final.

Loser: North Carolina Fans Who Made the Trip to Maui

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    North Carolina fans expected their team to dominate the Maui Invitational, but instead they left Maui seeing their team win two blowout games over weak opponents and lose to a strong mid-major.

    After beating Mississippi State 95-49 on Monday, the Tar Heels fell to Butler in Tuesday's semifinals and were left with a consolation game against Chaminade. 

    The Tar Heels took care of Chaminade, 112-70, but they did not face another strong team in preparation for their trip to Bloomington on Tuesday to play Indiana in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.

    Fans of the Tar Heels have to be disappointed that they were only treated to one competitive game during their week in Maui, and that competitive game was the loss to Butler. 

Winner: Creighton

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    Creighton justified its spot in the Top 25 with two tough wins against Wisconsin and Arizona State at the Las Vegas Invitational. 

    The Bluejays got two strong performances from star forward Doug McDermott in both of their wins over the weekend, as he carried his team to victory with a combined 59 points. 

    McDermott scored 30 points in the win over Wisconsin and 29 in the championship game versus Arizona State. 

    This was the biggest test of the season so far for the Bluejays—and they passed it with flying colors. 

Loser: UConn

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    Just two weeks after a big win over Michigan State in its opening game, UConn had an unimpressive performance at the Paradise Jam. 

    The Huskies should have cruised into the title game to play New Mexico, but instead they struggled against weaker opposition before losing to the Lobos in the championship.

    In their first game in the Virgin Islands, Kevin Ollie's team struggled with Wake Forest before they came out with a 77-71 win. 

    In the semifinals, the Huskies were taken into double overtime by Quinnipiac before they came out on top with an 89-83 win.

    The Huskies fell to New Mexico in the final of the tournament, a game that they were lucky to be in at all after their struggles in the first two games. 

Winner: Louisville's Guard Combination

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    Even though Louisville failed to defeat Duke in the Battle 4 Atlantis championship, its two star guards had very strong performances in the Bahamas. 

    Russ Smith and Peyton Siva were the two best players for the Cardinals during the tournament. Both stepped up in place of the injured Gorgui Dieng in the loss to Duke. 

    Smith scored in double digits in all three games in the Bahamas, while Siva scored in double digits against Missouri and Duke.

    The solid play of the two guards earned an embrace from Coach K after the two left their hearts on the floor in the loss to Duke. 

Loser: Pac-12

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    The Pac-12 did not have a successful weekend in the holiday tournaments. 

    Oregon and Arizona State lost in championship games in their respective tournaments. Meanwhile, USC flopped in Maui and UCLA failed to beat Georgetown in the Progressive Legends Classic.

    The only team from the conference to have a strong showing in every game of its tournament was Cal, who won the DirecTV Classic in Anaheim.

    With the conference still perceived as weak around the nation, strong performances from the teams involved in the holiday tournaments would have boosted the Pac-12's profile.

Winner: Alex Oriakhi

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    Missouri's Alex Oriakhi showed that a change of scenery has made his game better. 

    The transfer from UConn had a strong game against Louisville at the Battle 4 Atlantis and proved that he can step up in the big games for the Tigers this season.

    Oriakhi brings plenty of experience from the Big East to the first-year SEC team and will be a key player in the big games against Kentucky and Florida in conference play. 

Loser: Vanderbilt

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    One of the teams that Oriakhi will be facing this season in the SEC is Vanderbilt, who is coming off a horrible showing in Orlando at the Old Spice Classic.

    The Commodores started off their holiday weekend with a loss to Davidson, which was followed up by a loss to Marist in which the team only scored 33 points. 

    Kevin Stallings' team did end its three-game losing streak on Sunday with a 73-49 win over UTEP.

    The Commodore's had better hope that Sunday's woke them up, as they face tough tests against Villanova and Xavier in their next two games.

Winner: Michigan

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    Michigan took home the Preseason NIT title on Friday with a win over Kansas State. 

    The trio of Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Glenn Robinson III guided the Wolverines to the championship, in which they beat Pitt and Kansas State in New York to win the title.

    The Wolverines will have to take their experience from the Preseason NIT finals into their ACC-Big Ten Challenge game with N.C. State on Tuesday.

    If they beat N.C. State, the Wolverines will have overcome all over the big nonconference tests on their schedule. 

Loser: Mississippi State

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    Mississippi State had the dubious honor of finishing in last place at the Maui Invitational. 

    The Bulldogs were blown out by North Carolina, 95-49, in their opener in Maui—and things did not get much better during their next two games, 

    On Tuesday, the Bulldogs lost by 27 to Marquette in a consolation game before losing the seventh-place game to Texas on Wednesday. 

    Add those three losses to an opening-night loss to Troy, and it makes the Bulldogs 1-4 going into a fairly easy nonconference schedule for the month of December, when they will look to rebound from their terrible November.