Already this past weekend, the excitement brought by early-season tournaments has struck the college basketball landscape. Duke righted the ship after falling to Kansas earlier in the season, claiming victory in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off over an upstart Rhode Island Rams squad. The Blue Devils triumphed despite injuries to some of their key freshmen. This week, Americans celebrate Thanksgiving. However, they can also enjoy the Maui Invitational, Battle 4 Atlantis, Preseason NIT, and more. There’s been a surprising amount of early movement in the CPP Top 25, and given the titanic clashes these tournaments will bring this week, it is likely the trend will continue! Here’s the week 3 College Pride Press Top 25.
- Kentucky (4-0, LW: 2) Def. Michigan State 69-48, Def. Duquesne 93-59. The Wildcats continue to impress; their Champions Classic thrashing of the Spartans was an incredible performance. The three-headed backcourt of Monk, Fox, and Briscoe has worked well together. UK’s got easy games against Cleveland St. and UT-Martin next.
- Duke (4-1, LW: 1) Lost to Kansas 75-77, Def. Penn State 78-68, Def. Rhode Island 75-65. An eventful week saw an injury-depleted Duke team lose a heartbreaker against Kansas, before sweeping the Hall of Fame Tip Off. Each week that passes, the talented roster gets a little healthier. It’ll be William & Mary and App St. playing Duke this week.
- Villanova (5-0, LW: 3) Def. Purdue 79-76, Def. Western Michigan 76-65, Def. Wake Forest 96-77, Def. Central Florida 67-57. The Charleston Classic didn’t do much to contain ‘Nova, as the Wildcats were led by tournament MVP Josh Hart. The road win over Purude was also big. They’ll play the College of Charleston in their only game this week.
- Indiana (3-0, LW: 6) Def. UMass-Lowell 100-78, Def. Liberty 87-48. The Hoosiers followed last week’s dramatic victory over Kansas with a pair of easy victories. More of the same this week, as James Blackmon and co. will dance with Fort Wayne and Mississippi Valley St. in what should be two blowouts.
- North Carolina (4-0, LW: 4) Def. Long Beach St. 93-67, Def. Hawaii 83-68. The road win over Hawaii was a preview for the Maui Invitational, which the Tar Heels will contest this week against a loaded field. Juniors Joel Berry and Justin Jackson have paced UNC so far, but the road will be difficult after an opening Maui contest with Chaminade.
- Kansas (2-1, LW: 7) Def. Duke 77-75, Def. Siena 86-65. Frank Mason has made it clear that he is going to be in the national player of the year conversation. His heroics led the Jayhawks over Duke. KU will partake in the CBE Hall of Fame Classic this week, and they open up with UAB, before a clash with either Georgia or George Washington.
- Oregon (2-1, LW: 5) Lost to Baylor 49-66, Def. Valparaiso 76-54. The Ducks continue to miss Dillon Brooks, and it showed against Baylor. However, they looked good against a capable Valpo squad. This week will be a reckoning for Oregon, as they partake in the Maui Invitational and open up against Georgetown.
- Arizona (3-0, LW: 9) Def. Cal St. Bakersfield 78-66, Def. Sacred Heart 95-65. The Finnish freshman, Lauri Markkanen shone bright, pouring in 22 against Sacred Heart. The Wildcats will play Northern Colorado and contend the Las Vegas Invitational, where they will first meet Santa Clara. A potential final with Butler or Vanderbilt looms.
- Louisville (3-0, LW: 10) Def. William & Mary 91-58, Def. Long Beach St. 88-56. An easy week for Louisville resulted in a pair of blowouts. The defense has been great, holding teams to 53.6 points a game. However, the Cards must now get set to compete in the Battle 4 Atlantis, which they will open up against Old Dominion.
- Virginia (3-0, LW: 11) Def. St. Francis (NY) 72-32, Def. Yale 62-38. Speaking of defense, the Cavaliers held both their opponents under 40 points this past week. However, the dismissal of Austin Nichols will hurt. Tony Bennett’s squad plays against Grambling to start their next slate, before entering the Emerald Coast Classic.
- Xavier (5-0, LW: 12) Def. Buffalo 86-53, Def. Missouri 83-82, Def. Clemson 83-77, Def. Northern Iowa 67-59. Despite not looking dominant in Florida, the Musketeers won the Tire Pros Invitational behind the outstanding duo of Bluiett and Sumner. For the second time in under a week, they’ll battle Northern Iowa in their only contest this week.
- Wisconsin (2-1, LW: 8) Lost to Creighton 67-79, Def. Chicago St. 69-51. The Badgers lost a true road game to Creighton in the Gavitt Classic, and then handled Chicago St. They compete in Maui this week, and open up against Tennessee and Rick Barnes. A massive matchup with Oregon could await Wisconsin in the semifinals.
- Gonzaga (3-0, LW: 16) Def. San Diego St. 69-48, Def. Bryant 109-70. Mark Few’s side had no trouble dispatching a good Aztecs squad, and they then handily rolled over the Bryant Bulldogs. But the Zags must now play in a loaded Advocare Invitational, starting with Quinnipiac, and potential games against Florida, Seton Hall, Iowa St., and Miami.
- Syracuse (3-0, LW: 17) Def. Holy Cross 90-46, Def. Monmouth 71-50. An easy week for Jim Boeheim preludes the Brooklyn Hoops Holiday Invitational, which will pit the Orange against South Carolina. They’ll also play South Carolina St. at the Carrier Dome as part of the event.
- West Virginia (3-0, LW: 15) Def. Mississippi Valley St. 107-66, Def. New Hampshire 100-41. A pair of gaudy scores highlight the low quality of competition the Mountaineers faced last week. There’s none of that this week, as WVU will play in the prestigious NIT Season Tip-Off; first up will be Illinois, followed by Temple or Florida St.
- UCLA (4-0, LW: 14) Def. San Diego 88-68, Def. Long Beach St. 114-77. Lonzo Ball is averaging 16 points and 9 assists, while fellow frosh T.J. Leaf is at 20 points and 10 rebounds a game. The DirecTV Wooden Legacy will open up this week with the Bruins playing Portland, followed by Dayton or Nebraska.
- Creighton (4-0, LW: 25) Def. Wisconsin 79-67, Def. Washington St. 103-77, Def. NC State 112-94. Coming off the shootout win over the Wolfpack and a major W against Wisconsin, the high-flying Jays will tango with Ole Miss in the championship game of the Paradise Jam on Monday. They’ll play the Greyhounds of Loyola (MD) later in the week.
- Michigan State (2-2, LW: 13) Lost to Kentucky 48-69, Def. Florida Gulf Coast 78-77. A controversial ending against FGCU saved the Spartans from a disastrous week. Still, Miles Bridges is looking like a lottery pick, and the Spartans have a chance to prove themselves in Atlantis, where they play St. John’s in the first round.
- St. Mary’s (3-0, LW: 22) Def. Prarie View A & M 110-72, Def. Dayton 61-57. The road win against Dayton will go a long way towards the Gaels proving they are legitimate. Emmett Naar also had a double-double against lowly Prarie View earlier. They’ve got matchups with San Jose St. and UAB next on the docket.
- Purdue (2-1, LW: 18) Lost to Villanova 76-79, Def. Georgia St. 64-56. The loss to Villanova was heartbreaking, and it nearly spilled over into the game against Georgia State. The Boilermakers get away this week, partaking in the Cancun Challenge. First up will be Utah State, followed by Auburn or Texas Tech.
- Miami (FL) (3-0, LW: 20) Def. North Florida 94-56, Def. Penn 74-62. Feast week will bring Ja’Quan Newton and the Hurricanes to the Advocare Invitational, where they open up against Stanford and have potential battles with Iowa State, Gonzaga, and others. It will go a long way to seeing if the ‘Canes are contenders or pretenders.
- Iowa State (3-0, LW: 23) Def. Mount St. Mary’s 73-55, Def. The Citadel 130-63. The rout over The Citadel was led by a triple double from Monte Morris. The Cyclones will look to carry the momentum into their opening game of the Advocare Invitational, where they will play Indiana State.
- Rhode Island (4-1, LW: 19) Def. Marist 107-65, Def. Brown 79-72, Def. Cincinnati 76-71, Lost to Duke 65-75. Rhody picked up a nice win over Cincy to reach the Hall of Fame Tip-Off final, but Duke was too much for the Rams at that stage. E.C. Matthews, Hassan Martin and co. will regroup with a game against Belmont on Friday.
- Baylor (3-0, LW: NR) Def. Oregon 66-49, Def. Florida Gulf Coast 81-72. The Bears picked up a massive home win against Oregon, and then followed it up with a nice W against FGCU. However, they’re now traveling to the Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis, which sees them play Virginia Commonwealth in the first round.
- NC State (3-1, LW: NR) Def. Montana 85-72, Lost to Creighton 94-112. The Wolfpack followed their 2-0 week one with a victory over Montana to begin the Paradise Jam. They then fell to Creighton, and now face off against St. Joe’s in the consolation game. It’ll be Loyola (IL) later in the week after the Paradise Jam ends tonight.
Just Missed the Cut: Texas, Maryland, BYU, Dayton, Florida St.
There was some real dissension the polls this week, as four teams (UK, Duke, ‘Nova, UNC) all received a first place vote. During Feast Week, some of these differences will be settled, and schools can use these tournaments to make statements. Early season tournaments provide dynamic battles, and chances for schools to augment their résumés. They can also allow underrated teams to come to the surface, and give small glimpses of how March could look. This week truly signals the return of college basketball, and you can bet our writers will be tuned in 24/7 not just for this week, but the entire season.