Who doesn’t want to overindulge on Thanksgiving?
But it doesn’t always have to be about eating too much turkey or pumpkin pie. There’s nothing wrong with consuming basketball in excess next week, too. From Florida to Las Vegas and from Cancun to the Virgin Islands, the holiday hoops events are bountiful.
It’s not just the volume of games; there are many high-quality matchups. Many have the look of NCAA tournament games. While UConn and UCLA meet in the Cayman Islands, they could also play in the Final Four in Cleveland. A potential North Carolina-Iowa matchup could happen in Estero, Florida. If the Tar Heels want to make a statement about their postseason chances, this is their opportunity.
The building blocks for an NCAA tournament résumé can start on Thanksgiving weekend. Gonzaga beat Louisville and Tennessee in the Bahamas last November — and earned a No. 9 seed in March. Some of these games carry significance through the rest of the season.
We don’t want you to miss any of them. Here is your guide to best games of the week and how to watch them.
Saturday, Nov. 18
Michigan vs. Middle Tennessee
Battle 4 Atlantis (Bahamas), 5 p.m. ET, FloHoops
The third game of the opening day at the Battle 4 Atlantis is the best. The Wolverines’ first real test of the season comes in the form of the Blue Raiders, who already have a loss to Princeton. With Middle Tennessee having few, if any, résumé-building opportunities in CUSA, and Michigan’s nonconference slate lacking outside of this trip, this game takes on some importance despite being just two weeks into the season. Take notice of Savannah Wheeler for the Blue Raiders and Michigan’s Laila Phelia, both of whom are off to good starts.
Sunday, Nov. 19
Battle 4 Atlantis semifinals (Bahamas)
noon ET and 2:30 p.m. ET, FloHoops
Ole Miss and Arizona are heavily favored to beat their Saturday opponents, which would set up this matchup that feels like it could be a second-round NCAA tournament game. Both programs added a significant number of new players, but so far have largely been led by returning veterans.
Monday, Nov. 20
Oklahoma State vs. Penn State
Pink Flamingo Championship (Bahamas), 6 p.m. ET, FloHoops
Makenna Marissa, one of the country’s best under-the-radar players, scored 34 points in an impressive Penn State win over Kansas, giving more relevance to this matchup with the Cowgirls. The Lady Lions have a big opportunity in the Bahamas to set themselves up as a possible Cinderella in the Big Ten.
Freshman phenom JuJu Watkins drops 35 in USC’s blowout win
espnW’s No. 1 ranked freshman JuJu Watkins scores a career-high 35 points as No. 10 USC picks up a 93-42 win over Le Moyne.
No. 10 USC vs. Seton Hall
Pink Flamingo Championship (Bahamas), 9 p.m. ET, FloHoops
Mark this as the best opportunity to see rising star JuJu Watkins of the Trojans during nonconference play. USC also plays Penn State at 9 ET on Wednesday before the softest part of the Trojans’ nonconference schedule takes over.
Battle 4 Atlantis championship game (Bahamas)
12 p.m. ET, FloHoops
A title game featuring either Arizona or Ole Miss against Michigan could have significant NCAA tournament ramifications whether for inclusion in the field or seeding. All three have plenty of opportunities to build a résumé inside their respective conferences, but a championship at the Battle 4 Atlantis provides some wiggle room.
Wednesday, Nov. 22
No. 13 Ohio State vs. Oklahoma State
Pink Flamingo Championship (Bahamas), 6:30 p.m. ET, FloHoops
Second-year Cowgirls coach Jacie Hoyt has incorporated some new players quickly and Oklahoma State nearly pulled an upset at Colorado in its second game of the season. Oklahoma State’s guard-oriented lineup could be an interesting matchup for Ohio State’s press. USC’s ability to attack the Buckeyes’ aggressive defense led to the upset on opening night. Could Oklahoma State have similar success?
Thursday, Nov. 23
South Carolina moves to No. 1 after dominant win over Maryland
South Carolina trounces Maryland by 38 points to move into the top spot of the women’s college basketball rankings.
No. 20 Maryland vs. No. 24 Washington State
Cancun Challenge (Mexico), 11 a.m. ET, FloHoops
The Terps’ schedule has already been loaded with games against South Carolina and UConn before reaching Cancun, but it softens considerably once they leave prior to Big Ten play. The Cougars represent the last ranked team Maryland plays until Ohio State on Jan. 17. Washington State has gotten more balanced production to start the season and hasn’t relied on Charlisse Leger-Walker as much. The Terps and Cougars, along with Green Bay and UMass, will get three games apiece in Cancun.
Puckett plays back overtime thriller against Memphis
In a fierce battle against the Tigers, the No. 15 Lady Vols’ Sara Puckett shows pride in their strong defensive return, along with her career high of 24 points.
No. 15 Tennessee vs. No. 18 Indiana
Fort Myers Tip-Off (Florida), Island Division, 6 p.m. ET, Fox
This matchup takes on even more meaning after the Lady Vols and Hoosiers were stung with a disappointing result in the opening week of the season. Mackenzie Holmes didn’t fare well against Stanford’s size and will face more length from Tennessee. The Lady Vols let one get away at Florida State, turning over the ball too much (18 turnovers) and failing to find the Seminoles’ shooters. Indiana, despite its struggles against the Cardinal, has plenty of those.
This event also features the Lady Vols playing Oklahoma and the Hoosiers meeting Princeton, but this is the only game scheduled to be televised.
Friday, Nov. 24
Syracuse vs. Northern Iowa
South Point Shootout (Las Vegas), 2 p.m. ET, FloHoops
The Orange and Panthers could be on the periphery of an at-large bid come March, making this game potentially huge for both. UNI has a balanced offensive attack and likes to shoot 3-pointers. Syracuse relies on the explosiveness of star guard Dyaisha Fair.
No. 22 Creighton vs. Michigan State
Cancun Challenge (Mexico), 4 p.m. ET, FloHoops
Expect well-executed offense and a visually pleasing watch from two teams that share the ball, can shoot it from the outside and are led by veterans. Long-term, this game could be extremely important to the Spartans.
Ball Dawgs Classic championship game (Henderson, Nevada)
6:30 p.m. ET, FloHoops
Stanford and Florida State are heavy favorites to reach the finals of this four-team event, and it would be a fantastic matchup of two programs with huge wins already on the résumé. The Cardinal’s destruction of Indiana was as shocking of any result in the season’s first week, and Florida State upset Tennessee in what might have been the most exciting game in the opening week. This potential matchup has star power as well in Stanford’s Cameron Brink and the Seminoles’ Ta’Niya Latson.
No. 9 Virginia Tech vs. Kansas
Cayman Islands Classic (Cayman Islands), 5 p.m. ET, FloHoops
With LSU, UConn and UCLA also in this event, it’s a big disappointment that the Hokies aren’t playing any of them (LSU isn’t playing any of the other top teams, either), but the Jayhawks’ experience and size represent a challenge for Virginia Tech. The game within the game in this one is 6-foot-6 Elizabeth Kitley facing off against another long post player in Kansas’ 6-6 Taiyanna Jackson.
No. 8 UConn vs. No. 3 UCLA
Cayman Islands Classic (Cayman Islands), 7:30 p.m. ET, FloHoops
Push all the food aside for this one, easily the best matchup of the entire holiday week. The Bruins’ hopes for this season are as high as they have ever been. Beating UConn would further cement UCLA as a national title contender. The Huskies have some ground to make up after the loss at NC State, and the opportunities are plenty with games against Texas, North Carolina and Louisville coming right behind this weekend in the Cayman Islands. But none of those games would quite equal beating UCLA on a neutral site.
Saturday, Nov. 25
Saniya Rivers drops 33 points in NC State’s upset of No. 2 UConn
Saniya Rivers scores a career-high 33 points to power NC State to its first victory over UConn since 1998.
No. 5 Colorado vs. No. 14 NC State
Paradise Jam (U.S. Virgin Islands), 2 p.m. ET, ESPN+
When this game was scheduled, no one could have imagined it would feature a pair of Week 1 giant slayers. The Buffs taking down defending champion and then-No. 1 LSU on opening night got everyone’s attention, but what the Wolfpack did to UConn down the stretch in Raleigh on Sunday might have been even more surprising. Getting another glimpse at NC State’s Saniya Rivers before the leftovers are gone seems like a good idea.
South Florida vs. No. 11 Texas
Paradise Jam (U.S. Virgin Islands), 9 p.m. ET, ESPN3
The Bulls and Longhorns wrap up the Paradise Jam in a rematch of a game from early December 2022 that South Florida won in Austin. The Bulls’ Sammie Puisis scored 25 points in that game but has battled injuries to start the season. Having her on the floor is key for South Florida.
Kansas vs. No. 8 UConn
Cayman Islands Classic (Cayman Islands), 7:30 p.m. ET, FloSports
Playing two NCAA tournament-caliber opponents back-to-back is nothing new for the Huskies. Doing it on consecutive days is. Kansas won’t present the same problems as UCLA, but the Jayhawks have four starters back, and the 6-6 Jackson can be a defensive force inside.
Sunday, Nov. 26
Gulf Coast Showcase championship game (Estero, Florida) 7:30 p.m. ET, FloSports
Perhaps Kansas State or Florida Gulf Coast will have something to say about it, but Iowa Hawkeyes and North Carolina Tar Heels are the two best teams in the field and solid favorites to meet in the title game. The possibility sets up an interesting potential scenario for the Tar Heels, who could wind up playing the country’s Nos. 1- and 2-ranked teams back-to-back. North Carolina faces South Carolina in the ACC/SEC Challenge four days later in Chapel Hill.