It's time to give thanks. Thanks for the second-best time of year in college hoops.
Only the first few weeks of March can match the next 10 days (starting Monday) in college basketball for good hoops, amount of games and the chance to see random matchups we normally wouldn't get.
Eight tournaments this week, then the ACC-Big Ten challenge next Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Seriously, let's all give thanks.
All done? Now how do you go about watching 63 games this week and find time for football, eating turkey and spending some time with the family? Unless you have multiple TVs or multiple screen capability, it's impossible. Also, not every game is on TV.
But the big ones are. Catch 'em while you can.
One story billed the College Basketball Experience Classic as "the big boys of the NCAA," though that seems like a bit of a stretch. Maryland is a NCAA Tournament team, but Missouri, the other semifinalist, probably is another year away from returning to the big dance.
Still, tune in for Tuesday's title game. UCLA still doesn't have point guard Darren Collison, but the Bruins are unbeaten and tougher than ever inside, thanks to freshman Kevin Love.
The Maui Invitational usually has a solid field. Rivals.com's Andrew Skwara says it's the best tournament going on this week, and he could be right. Duke gives the tournament its marquee team, but what makes it nice is how balanced the field is.
The Devils and Marquette should be playing for the title on Wednesday – if the bracket holds to form – which would give us a nice rematch from last year's CBE, when the Eagles forced Duke into 25 turnovers for a win. But any field that also includes Arizona State, Illinois, LSU and Oklahoma State deserves some scrutiny because we'll see some surprises. (Monday-Wednesday on ESPN, ESPN2.)
Wednesday also has the NIT Season Tip-Off semifinals, the best of which should be Syracuse vs. Ohio State (9 p.m., ESPN2). The Orange's star freshmen, Jonny Flynn and Donte Green have been crucial to a 3-0 start, and their bench will be just as important this week.
The Buckeyes are 2-0, but are still adjusting to life without three of the Thad Five. Never been sold on Jamar Butler, who's been thrust into the point guard spot with Mike Conley Jr. gone, which should give 'Cuse the edge.
Expect them to face Texas A&M in Friday's finals. (7 p.m., ESPN2). The Aggies may not have Acie Law anymore, but they have more than enough to handle Washington's Jon Brockman inside.
Somehow, the Great Alaska Shootout (always my personal favorite, maybe because it was the thought of trekking north in late November to play hoops; then again, it's not any stranger than going to Hawaii to play hoops…) has lost some its prestige, both in TV times and in quality of the field.
Only two games are on ESPN2, the rest are ESPN360 or ESPNU or not on the tube. (ESPN, for its part, says being on ESPN360 isn't giving the tourney short shrift because anyone can watch on the Net. Uh huh. Having your game in 90 million is preferable to being on the net. Ask any hoops viewer.)
It makes sense, though. Gonzaga and Butler are the only ranked teams in the field, both of which are mid-majors. Texas Tech and Michigan also are there, but the hoops quality isn't up to the level of other tourneys.
(One last not on the Shootout, which began in 1978. Did you know that Billy Packer is believed to have named the tourney?)
For example, the Old Spice Classic, which runs from Thursday-Sunday, features Kansas State and its fabulous freshman, Michael Beasley, an underrated Villanova squad, N.C. State and its powerful frontline with sophomore Brandon Costner and "Beast" J.J. Hickson and Penn State, which could be a Big Ten surprise. It's at least as good as the Shootout.
A smaller field in the Legends Classic is just as good, too. Tennessee is a national title contender, Texas is proving it doesn't need Kevin Durant and then there's West Virginia with Bob Huggins. That's a solid Friday-Saturday field.
Almost forgot about the Las Vegas Invitational. Shame on me. Any event that has North Carolina vs. Old Dominion, BYU vs. Louisville, with a potential UNC-Louisville final deserves some special mention. That's a game we could be watching again in April. Somehow, tickets were still available a week ago.
Then, there's the Anaheim Classic. There are only two potential matchups worth watching (Miss. State vs. Southern Illinois on Friday and the winner vs. USC in Sunday's title game), but five of these games are on ESPN2. Call it the Mayo effect.
Phew. Once all this is over, it'll be time for the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, though that doesn't start in earnest until Tuesday. Wonder if this is the year the Big Ten "wins?"