- Thanksgiving brings a feast of basketball with four exciting tournament matchups.
- Six tournament teams from the 2023 NCAA Tourney add extra flair.
- Winners advance to Black Friday’s semis, eyeing Sunday’s championship.
- Our guide covers the full schedule, game analysis, and top betting tips.
- Expert picks for Penn State vs. Texas A&M, FAU vs. Butler, Iowa State vs. VCU, Boise State vs. Virginia Tech.
On top of three mouth-watering NFL affairs, sports fans around the United States will enjoy super interesting holiday hoops as the 2023 ESPN Events Invitational Tournament brings four high-profile matchups on Thursday, November 23.
Six of eight participants in the Thanksgiving college basketball tournament featured in the 2023 NCAA Tournament, making it one of the strongest non-conference tournaments in the nation.
The four Thanksgiving quarterfinal ties winners will advance to the semifinals on Black Friday, with the championship game scheduled for Sunday, November 26.
We provide a full schedule, analyze all four games, and share our favorite basketball betting tips for the tournament’s first day.
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Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Texas A&M Aggies (12 p.m.)
Penn State Nittany Lions celebrated their maiden NCAA Tournament win in 22 years in March when they demolished Texas A&M Aggies 76-59 in the first round. We still remember Andrew Funk’s historical 27-point performance in a game where he went 8-for-10 from the three-point line.
A lot has changed since then for the Nittany Lions, who have lost three key players (Funk, Seth Lundy, and Jalen Pickett) and coach Micah Shrewsbury in the offseason. New coach Mike Rhodes worked hard to create a new team that matches last year’s successes. Rhodes will have a mountain to climb, as we can’t see Penn State getting anywhere near another NCAA Tournament run this time.
The Aggies possess much more quality in their ranks, led by Wade Taylor IV and Tyrece Radford, two of the country’s best backcourt duos. Texas’ players will also be extra motivated to get revenge for the painful loss to Penn State in the NCAA Tournament. We expect them to storm past their counterparts commandingly in the event’s first game.
Florida Atlantic Owls vs. Butler Bulldogs (2:30 p.m.)
FAU are the tournament’s main favorites and serious contenders for the national championship. The Owls enjoyed a dream campaign last season. A school that had never previously won a single NCAA Tournament game in their history reached the Final Four (a loss to San Diego State) in a fairytale 2023 run.
Florida Atlantic returned all five starters and almost all key rotation players ahead of the new campaign. They will play tougher games this year after moving to the American Conference. The clash against Butler Bulldogs does not drop into that category, though. The Bulldogs came ninth in the Big East last time, and they’ve lost all five top scorers since then. They entered this season without significant ambitions, especially if we know how stacked the Big East is this year, with four Top 20 and eight Top 60 teams.
You don’t need to be an avid basketball fan to notice the difference in quality between the two outfits.
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Iowa State Cyclones vs. VCU Rams (5:30 p.m.)
The Cyclones’ fans have much to be enthusiastic about in the new season. They made it to the NCAA Tournament in the first two seasons under head coach T.J. Otzelberger. They are now equipped with a deeper roster and some seriously strong offensive talent, by far the most lethal one in Otzelberger’s era.
The Cyclones had a nice first-round draw in the 2023 ESPN Events Invitational as they enter the game against Virginia Commonwealth Rams as clear favorites for the win. The Rams finally captured their inaugural Atlantic 10 title since 2015 under Mike Rhoades. Rhoades rewarded himself with the move to Penn State, taking Adrian Baldwin and Nicholas Kern.
VCU changed most of their roster this summer, and new head coach Ryan Odom is forced to build from scratch with a brand new program. We are happy to take the Cyclones in a -9.5 spread at the -110 odds with DraftKings.
Boise State Broncos vs. Virginia Tech Hokies (8 p.m.)
Boise State and Virginia Tech will lock horns in the last game of the day at State Farm Field House. The Broncos entered the new season with high ambitions after a successful campaign marked by record-breaking attendance at the ExtraMile Arena last year. Boise State returned most of the key parts of their 2023 March Madness run, including Max Rice and Tyson Degenhart as the main two stars.
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the Hokies, whose ambitions suffered a colossal blow with the late summer departure of the team’s key player, Rodney Rice. The sophomore guard was one of the best recruits in the school’s history, and his absence will leave a serious mark on the team’s performance this season. On the flip side, fifth-year coach Mike Young feels less pressure now and has a very exciting group of young guards to work with.
The Broncos are once again among the main favorites for the Mountain West title, and we’d not be surprised to see them going all the way to the final in this tournament. We’ll back them up on dispatching the Hokies without too many problems at the start of their run.
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