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You always need college basketball. Wholesale Custom 76ers Shirts . But you really need college basketball during the holidays.The game, per usual, will deliver with a multitude of fascinating tournaments and high-profile matchups.Its early.So the games will not guarantee much more than excitement, entertainment and an answer to the only pertinent question of the seasons first chapter: How good is my favorite team today and how good can we be?Maybe youll know soon.But thats not why you need the games holiday slate.You need college basketball during the holidays because its a peacemaker and a distraction for the great American get-togethers many will enjoy this week.In one room, your sisters new boyfriend will tell stories about his high school football days, a monologue that will include an offer to go to my car and grab my letter jacket if you dont believe me. The chatty, close-talking uncle is waiting outside the door to continue that conversation about your career path he lured you into last Thanksgiving, the one you assumed hed forget after a year.He didnt.Then, theres your aunts discomforting attempt to play matchmaker by randomly calling a friend of a friends son or daughter and handing you the phone. Here she is, Larry ... youll love her.You hear that? Its your cousins and their nonstop argument about that thing that happened in 1987. And someone has to take the first bite of your brothers mysterious lasagna.Theres a lot happening this week. We understand.In these moments, however, college basketball will offer solace. A chance to breathe.A reason to gather around a television and enjoy some of Americas best college basketball competition.The holiday schedule will provide some of the most intriguing nonconference action of the year. Plus, its an excuse to ignore your sisters new boyfriend.Five teams ready to make a statementNorth Carolina Tar Heels North Carolinas trip to the Maui Jim Maui Invitational could end with a championship victory over a good Wisconsin team. Thats not equal to Kansas topping Duke on Frank Mason IIIs buzzer-beater last week or a short-handed Duke teams double-digit KO of a legit top-25 Rhode Island squad on Sunday. It is, however, UNCs first opportunity to announce its standing as a national championship contender. The Tar Heels dont have Marcus Paige anymore, but theyre still beasts on the offensive glass and a problem for any opponent approaching the rim.Louisville Cardinals The Cardinals entered the season in the shadows, a byproduct of a season interrupted by scandal and completed without a postseason appearance. So perhaps the college basketball world forgot about the talent pool Rick Pitino amassed this year. A rally in this weeks Battle 4 Atlantis -- with potential matchups against Wichita State and Baylor or Michigan State -- and Louisville and Jaylen Johnson (15.3 PPG, 11.3 RPG, 1.3 BPG) could remind the public of Louisvilles position as a threat in the ACC and beyond. Per Synergy Sports, Louisvilles opponents have scored a measly .56 points per possession in their half-court sets.Virginia Cavaliers Against the same Yale team that put up 98 points in a win over Washington and 89 points in a victory over Lehigh, Virginia surrendered just seven points in the final 10:22 of the first half of its 62-38 win over the Bulldogs on Sunday. Yale scored just 17 points in the first half of that game. Either Lehigh and Washington just stood on the sideline as Yale collected points by the boatful or the Cavaliers, again, possess the venomous brand of defense that carried the program to the top of the ACC in recent years. Well go with the latter. Virginia freshman Mamadi Diakite is blocking a ridiculous 23.4 percent of his opponents shots inside the arc. That helps. Another round of suffocating performances against Iowa and Providence/Memphis in the Emerald Coast Classic in Niceville, Florida, this week could help the Cavs challenge any presumptive ideas about Dukes ACC title hopes.Northwestern Wildcats Slow down, Northwestern fans. Mondays 77-58 win over a young Texas squad impressed many but the victory wont guarantee anything on Selection Sunday. It is, however, a great step toward that aim. The Wildcats need signature wins to earn their first-ever trip to the NCAA tournament. Mondays victory and a possible win over Notre Dame in the Legends Classic title game on Tuesday could give the Wildcats momentum and a pair of quality wins that could boost their resume in March. This is the kind of start Northwestern needs as it attempts to make history in Chris Collins fourth season.Iowa State Cyclones After Iowa State scored 130 points on lowly Citadel, voters in this weeks Associated Press poll rewarded the Cyclones by dropping them a spot to No. 21. Savannah State, Mount St. Marys and Citadel are all ranked below No. 270 in KenPom.coms rankings. Thats the issue. At this weeks Advocare Invitational tournament in Orlando, Steve Prohms program will have an opportunity to prove its numbers thus far -- 62.6 percent connect rate inside the arc -- represent the marks of a valid Big 12 contender and not the inflated stats of a squad thats just bullied bottom-feeders in its first three games. Their best-case scenario includes a matchup against Gonzaga in the championship game.Five teams that could use a good weekUConn Huskies What positive development could emerge from UConns 98-90 loss to Oklahoma State in the opening round of the Maui Jim Maui Invitational and a 1-3 start to the season? Well, the Huskies -- if they get past Chaminade in the next round -- could meet Oregon in the losers bracket. Yeah, its a game that might extend UConns troubles but it might be a gift for Kevin Ollies desperate team.Texas Longhorns Its too early to suggest the Longhorns are in deep trouble, but they could leave the Legends Classic, a tournament many picked Shaka Smarts team to win since its the only ranked squad in the field, with a 3-2 record if they cant get past Colorado on Tuesday. Veterans overcome those early hurdles. A young team -- the bulk of UTs top contributors are underclassmen -- might carry the sting of this stretch into December and beyond. They could use a win.Oregon Ducks As ESPN.coms Eamonn Brennan observed, Oregons unexpected loss to Georgetown in the opening round of the Maui Jim Maui Invitational ended the chatter about Dillon Brooks hypothesized impact on the Ducks 17-point loss to Baylor last week. Brooks returned from a foot injury to go 3-for-8 (8 points), but his production couldnt neutralize his teams 4-for-17 clip from beyond the arc and 17 turnovers. Theyve missed their chance to challenge North Carolina in a strong finale. Wins over Tennessee and Connecticut would make the trek to the Honolulu feel like less of a wasted opportunity.Michigan State Spartans The clock issues produced the headlines from Michigan States 78-77 win over Florida Gulf Coast over the weekend. The bigger story? Dunk City grabbed 38 percent of its misses and Michigan State made just 58 percent of its free throw attempts. Tom Izzos Spartans have connected on just 55 percent of their tries from the charity stripe thus far. A run through the Battle 4 Atlantis would suggest Michigan States early challenges were just the temporary flaws of a team with a fresh nucleus. The tournaments strong lineup, however, could toss the Spartans outside the top 25.Texas A&M Aggies A two-point home loss to USC stung a team that lost last years fleet of talented upperclassmen, but thats not a bad home loss. Still, the Aggies could use some momentum as they try to recover. The DirecTV Wooden Legacy tournament contains a solid but surmountable field and a potential prize if both the Aggies and UCLA advance to the title game. The Bruins look like Pac-12 favorites right now. Yet, this is the level of competition Texas A&M should overcome if its a true threat to Kentucky in the SEC race.Set the DVR for these must-see playersMarkelle Fultz (Global Sports Classic, Las Vegas) Possibly the top pick in next summers NBA draft has made 77 percent of his shots inside the arc and 50 percent of his 3-point attempts. The fancy guard, who is averaging 27.0 PPG, will leave the Huskies in a few months. Watch him now.Lauri Markkanen (Continental Tire Las Vegas International, Las Vegas) Arizonas preseason included a Chance Comanche suspension, Ray Smiths retirement after a third ACL injury and the waiting game for Allonzo Triers debut. The drama limited the attention national pundits devoted to the beautiful basketball of Markkanen. Hes a 7-footer averaging 19.5 PPG and 8.3 RPG. Plus, hes shooting 38 percent from the 3-point line, 65 percent inside the arc and 96 percent from the charity stripe.Lonzo Ball (DirecTV Wooden Legacy) The freshmans backers said he would carry UCLA back to national prominence. Thats not a debatable statement at this point in this season. The 6-foot-6 point guard is averaging 9.0 APG and connecting on 44 percent of his 3-pointers. Right now, hes the real Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.Tacko Fall is more than the tallest man in college basketball Yes, hes the tallest man in the game, but the big man has a new body and new tools, which have made his 7-foot-6 frame a weapon this season. Hes averaging 17.8 PPG, 12.5 RPG and 3.0 BPG. That stat line includes his 20 points (10-for-10), 11 rebounds and one block in a loss Sunday to defending national champ Villanova. Per Synergy Sports, hes made an elite-level 78 percent of his attempts in post-up situations. The sophomore is a young star who has transformed his body and abilities in just his second season of college basketball.The SECs problems persistRemember that preseason conversation about the SECs shot at multiple NCAA tournament bids? Well, its not looking good so far. On Tuesday alone, Ole Miss (vs. Creighton), Tennessee (vs. Wisconsin), Vanderbilt (vs. Bucknell) and Alabama (vs. Valparaiso) all lost. Both Tennessee and Ole Miss overcame early deficits but couldnt finish down the stretch. In past seasons, the SECs great challenge was its failure to create more than a handful of quality win opportunities in conference play. If the league cant find more good nonconference wins, it could enter SEC competition with Kentucky as the only valuable victory.Bad news in ChampaignJust dont lose to Winthrop (No. 101 per KenPom.com). Thats all. Thats exactly what Illinois did -- at home -- on Monday night. John Groces squad committed 22 turnovers in the 84-80 overtime loss. That wont quiet the hot seat surrounding Groces post right now. 76ers Jerseys China . - Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie never doubted he would bring back coach Dennis Allen for a third year despite back-to-back 4-12 records. Moses Malone Jersey Large .C. -- Chris Thorburn thinks one of the reasons the Winnipeg Jets have been successful under new coach Paul Maurice is that theyre playing together as a team. http://www.custom76ersjersey.com/ . The 43-year-old closer, in his 19th and final big league season, has said hed like to play the outfield. Yankees manager Joe Girardi says hes thinking about allowing Rivera to do it this weekend, when the Yankees finish their season with a three-game series at the Houston Astros. Our panel of NFL Insiders breaks down New Englands biggest competition in the AFC, covering the Steelers, Chiefs, Broncos, Bills and more.What team is the Patriots biggest challenger in AFC?Matt Bowen, NFL writer: Its still the Steelers -- if Ben Roethlisberger is back on the field -- and the Broncos. With a healthy Roethlisberger, the Steelers have the offensive weapons and explosive play ability to challenge any team in the league. They can score in bunches. And Im not selling on the Broncos after a rough two-game stretch. Denvers championship-level defense keeps it in the mix.KC Joyner, NFL writer: New EEngland leads the AFC in points allowed per drive for the season?(1. Cheap Custom 76ers Jersey. 4) and leads the conference in points scored per drive since Tom Brady returned (3.1). Pittsburgh may be the only AFC powerhouse offense that also has enough defense to overcome this combination.Scott Kacsmar, Football Outsiders assistant editor:?Injury to their best players is the biggest hurdle for New England, because the AFC is not strong this year. If I had to pick a team, it would be Kansas City ' ' '
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