The 76 Classic college basketball tournament gets underway on Thanksgiving Day at the Anaheim Convention Center. The Villanova Wildcats, at No. 28 in the ESPN/USA Today poll and No. 32 in the Associated Press poll, is the highest ranked school in the eight-team field, which will do battle over a four day period from Thursday to Sunday on the ESPN family of networks.
Eight teams from eight different conferences give the 76 Classic a unique and diverse field.
The Boston College Eagles and St. Louis Billikens kick things off on Thursday with an 11 a.m. PST tip-off on ESPNU. Boston College is off to a rough start at 1-2, with blowout losses to Holy Cross and Massachusetts in their last two games. The Billikens meanwhile are 3-0, including a home win over the Washington Huskies on Sunday. Senior forward Brian Conklin leads St. Louis in scoring, averaging 16.7 points per contest in the early going.
Villanova battles the UC Riverside Highlanders at 1:30 p.m. on ESPN2, with UCR (1-2) looking for its first win against a Division I foe this season. The Wildcats meanwhile are off to a 3-0 start led by the junior trio of Dominic Cheek, Maalik Wayns, and Mouphtaou Yarou, who are averaging a combined 59 points and 20.7 rebounds per game through three contests.
The New Mexico Lobos and Santa Clara Broncos tip off at 6 p.m. on Thursday on ESPNU. The Lobos (2-1) went into Tempe and beat the Arizona State Sun Devils 76-71 on Friday. Santa Clara is 2-1 though they lost senior forward Marc Trasolini for the season with a torn ACL, losing their leading rebounder from last season.
The Oklahoma Sooners battle the Washington State Cougars in the late game on Thursday, an 8:30 p.m. PST tip on ESPN2. New Sooners head coach Lon Kruger won the 76 Classic last season as coach of the UNLV Runnin' Rebels. Junior forward Romero Osby is averaging a double-double for the Sooners (14 points, 10 rebounds) through the first two games of the season. Washington State opened their season with a loss at Gonzaga, but have rebounded with a pair of wins.