What To Watch This Week In College Basketball: Pre-Feast Week

The Wolverines and Spartans are gearing up for trips to the islands.

97.1 The Ticket
November 18, 2019 - 8:54 am

© Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

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By Kyle Beery | 97.1 The Ticket

The college basketball season is in full swing after week two saw its fair share of upsets, including No. 1 Kentucky losing at home to Evansville -- the Wildcats' first home loss to an unranked opponent as the nation's top team in 40 such games -- No. 15 Florida going down at UConn for its second upset of the season and Tennessee knocking off No. 20 Washington north of the border.

Though two weeks are officially in the bags many casual fans consider the season to really get underway with "feast week" -- the affectionate, unofficial title for the week-plus of early-season tournaments, events and neutral-site games that centers around Thanksgiving.

This year, Michigan State heads to the Maui Invitational, while Michigan heads to the Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis. But that's not quite here yet. Though this week's schedule is a little light, we have a handful of campus games on-tap and a few under-the-radar tournaments this weekend to hold us over until the real feast week begins.

Here's a look at what you should be watching this week in college basketball.

LOCAL GAMES

Monday, Nov. 18

Charleston Southern @ No. 3 Michigan State -- 6:30 p.m., BTN

The Spartans are coming off a thoroughly impressive win at No. 12 Seton Hall last Thursday night and have one last tune-up game before heading to Hawaii. Cassius Winston is on pace to become the first player in college basketball history to hit 2,000 points and 1,000 assists for his career. He'd need to average roughly 19 points and 9 assists per game, depending on how long the Spartans can extend their season into March. Through three contests, he's averaging 19.7 points and 6.3 assists. While the season is still so, so young, this could be a great game for him to chip away at those marks.

Friday, Nov. 22

Houston Baptist @ Michigan -- 7 p.m., BTN+

Much like Michigan State, the Wolverines have one last cupcake to manage before heading to the islands. No, the Huskies don't pose much of a threat to Michigan, but this could be a time to get some extra work to guys like Brandon Johns, Colin Castleton and Adrien Nunez. The Wolverines have a pretty tough road ahead -- Iowa State to begin the Battle 4 Atlantis (which, by the way, is played inside a ballroom at a resort, if you've never watched the tournament), and possible dates with North Carolina, Gonzaga, Seton Hall or Oregon.

Upon returning from Paradise, Michigan is set to visit Louisville, then jump into early Big Ten play, before hosting Oregon in mid-December. This game Friday could go a long way in tightening things up before diving into that schedule.

NATIONAL GAMES

Tuesday, Nov. 19

Vermont @ No. 7 Virginia -- 7 p.m., ACC Network

Here's a great opportunity to watch one of the best mid-Majors in the country up against the reigning national champions. Anthony Lamb and Vermont just went into Carnesecca Arena and beat St. John's. While the Johnnies aren't on the same plane as UVA, that's a solid measuring-stick win for a team that has every intention of making noise come March.

Virginia lost a lot from last year's title run, but Jay Huff is a burgeoning star and Kihei Clark is stepping up to help run the offense. There's a lot to like about the Cavaliers. Spare me the gripes about UVA's offensive output -- they have plenty of scoring potential, and if you don't love a great lockdown defense, you don't love college basketball.

Thursday, Nov. 21

No. 22 Texas vs. Georgetown (2K Empire Classic @ Madison Square Garden) -- 7 p.m., ESPN 2

The Longhorns went into Mackey Arena and knocked off Purdue in the season's first week, and they're playing like they don't want their coach to lose his job. Shaka Smart has been hovering just above the hot seat after four seasons in Austin and no NCAA Tournament wins, but it looks like he's got a solid group this year.

Led by Matt Coleman III and the remarkable story of Andrew Jones, they'll take on a Hoyas team that suffered a disappointing loss to Penn State last week. Georgetown still has a good amount of talent in Mac McClung, Omer Yurtseven and James Akinjo. Thursday's winner will likely face Duke, who plays Cal following this game's conclusion.

POTENTIAL TOURNAMENT MATCHUPS TO WATCH

No. 17 Villanova vs. No. 24 Baylor (Myrtle Beach Invitational) -- Sunday, 5 p.m., ESPN

Both teams have suffered losses early on this season -- Villanova in the form of a 24-point drubbing at (now No. 10) Ohio State and Baylor in the waning seconds against a promising Washington team. Despite the early losses, both teams have aspirations to compete for conference championships and are both capable of putting things together down the road. 

In order to get this matchup, the Wildcats would have to beat Middle Tennessee State and then likely Mississippi State. Baylor faces Ohio in the first round before likely taking on Utah.

Florida vs. No. 18 Xavier (Charleston Classic) -- Sunday, 8:30 p.m., ESPN

Florida has fallen victim to the upset twice already this year (Florida State and UConn). A team that had a ton of preseason promise (No. 6 in the Preseason AP Poll) has dropped out of the rankings, but Mike White is insistent they'll put the pieces back together. Winning this tournament would be a good place to start in convincing us they're for real.

The Gators will take on a St. Joseph's team that did what they couldn't -- beat UConn. Should they win, they'll get a tough test in Missouri State or Miami.

Xavier, meanwhile, will have to go through Towson, then Buffalo or UConn. And yes, that means we could get a potential Florida-UConn rematch, which would be a Sunday night delight to officially get Feast Week into full swing.

See a full guide to every early-season tournament HERE.