When you think of Thanksgiving pairings you likely think of turkey and mashed potatoes, turkey and gravy, turkey and stuffing, or, if you hate yourself, turkey and that foul sweet potato stuff with the marshmallows on top. Xavier players will likely not be partaking in any of that this year, because they have basketball to play. This morning, the Las Vegas Invitational announced the schedule for play on Thanksgiving for its third round and championship games.
If you are wondering how the semis and finals can already be announced well, join the club. This “Invitational” takes place with two on-campus games to begin with (Xavier’s are Rider on Nov. 13th and Hampton on Nov. 20th) before heading out to Las Vegas for the holiday. Rider and Hampton get to come to Vegas as well, but they play against Northern Arizona and UC Irvine in something of a preformed loser’s bracket.
Xavier, on the other hand, starts with George Washington at 5 PM on Thanksgiving Day. That’s a perfect time, because you can get a post-turkey snooze in and wake up ready for the game, a cup of coffee, and a slice of cherry pie. GW wasn’t great last year, but adds Joe Mazzulla’s likely not nearly as hateable younger brother to the mix this year. Should Xavier win that game, and they should, they get the winner of Kansas State and Arizona State on Black Friday at 5:30 PM.
That start time is again ideal for its being post-nap, and the matchup could be even better. Should Xavier get Kansas St, it gets an instant chance for a resume building win away from home. The Wildcats were good last year, return three of their top five usage guys and their most efficient player, and have added Amaad Wainwright (who modestly describes himself as “a baby LeBron James”) and a floor stretching two guard in Mike McGuirl.
Getting Arizona St., and Xavier will see one of the two either way, is a somewhat less exciting prospect. The Sun Devils were about on the same level as George Washington last year but did at two ESPN top 100 recruits. They figure to be good this year, but may not present the same opportunity as Kansas State. Still, the second game that Xavier plays in Vegas figures to be against at least a top 50 opponent. There’s something to be said for that kind of scheduling. It can’t be Xavier 90-61 Dayton every year.