Thanksgiving this year is not just for the NFL, as there are some intriguing College Basketball match ups with the PK80 Invitational tipping off Thursday. The PK80 Invitational is in honor of Nike founder Phil Knight’s 80th birthday and features 16 elite programs in the country, including Michigan State and Ohio State.
These two teams both have a tough weekend ahead of them with this 16 team field being a talented one and all teams will play three games. Nebraska and Purdue is in action Thursday as well, but they are not included in the PK80 field. Purdue is in the Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis.
Let’s take a look at these Thanksgiving day games
Game of the Night
-Ohio State Buckeyes vs. No. 17 Gonzaga Bulldogs
- Time/TV: 11:59 PM ET/ESPN2
- KenPom Spread: Gonzaga (-7)
In a game that will not tip off until close to midnight on the east coast, this looks to be a great match up. Gonzaga is 3-0 so far on the season while Ohio State is 4-0. They have played one mutual opponent, as Gonzaga beat Texas Southern 97-69 and Ohio State beat the same Texas Southern team 82-64 a week later.
Gonzaga is led by Junior Guard Josh Perkins, who is averaging 13.3 points, 3 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game. The biggest threat that Gonzaga plays is there depth as they have 7 players averaging over 9.5 points a game. With Perkins and Killian Tillie leading the way and the depth of the Bulldogs, this will be a tough battle for the Buckeyes.
Keita Bates-Diop leads the way for Ohio State, averaging 19.3 points per game and 10 rebounds a game. Bates-Diop could be one of the sneaky great players in this tournament and will have to lead this team along with JaeSean Tate if they want to make some noise.
- Pick against the Spread: Ohio State
- Time/TV: 6:00 PM ET/ESPN3
- KenPom Spread: UCF (-5)
Nebraska and UCF meet in the Advocare Invitational in Orlando, Florida. Nebraska is led by Glynn Watson Jr. who is averaging 13.5 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2 assists per game. The Cornhuskers have struggled so far this year, playing Eastern Illinois to the final buzzer and losing by 23 points to St. Johns. They need a good win over UCF to gain some confidence.
UCF is led by Guard Chance McSpadden who is averaging 13.3 points and 5 rebounds per game. The Knights are 3-0 but they have also struggled against teams they should have beaten more easily. They also could use a win against a power 5 team. This will be a fun game between two teams that need a confidence builder.
- Pick against the Spread: UCF
-No. 18 Purdue Boilermakers vs. Western Kentucky Hilltoppers
- Time/TV: 7:00 PM ET/ESPN3
- KenPom Spread: Purdue (-19)
Purdue is coming off a tough loss on Wednesday to Tennessee in overtime and they fall to 4-1 on the season. If they want to get back on track and not lose back to back games, then Carsen and Vince Edwards need to simply shoot better. Carsen Edwards was 5-17 (29%) from the field and Vince Edwards was 3-13 (23%). Purdue as a team only shot 37.3% from the field and 37% from behind the line. The bright spot for Purdue was they struggled this much from the field and still took a talented team in Tennessee to OT.
Western Kentucky is coming off a close loss to Villanova and even though they are short handed due to injuries, they played a great game against the Wildcats. They shot 45% from the floor and 63% from behind the line. They have an equally tough game against the Boilermakers and we will see if there lack of depth hurts them in this tournament.
- Pick against the Spread: Western Kentucky
-No. 4 Michigan State Spartans vs. DePaul Blue Demons
- Time/TV: 11:30 PM ET/ESPN
- KenPom Spread: Michigan State (-14)
Michigan State is coming off a lackluster loss against Duke a week ago where Marvin Bagley Jr. played only a few minutes and they looked out of it at times. They are 2-1 on the season but they need a couple of big wins in the PK80 invite to restore their confidence. Miles Bridges has been playing great so far this season but he is nursing a hurt ankle and is reportedly doubtful to play in this one. If he cannot play at all this weekend, look for Michigan State to struggle against some tough competition.
DePaul is 1-2 on the season and they are coming off a tough loss to Illinois. With the Spartans likely down Bridges, The Blue Demons are in a decent spot to possibly shock the Spartans. If they want to have a shot at this one, they must limit turnovers, keep the pace favoring them and have big games from top players Max Strus and Eli Cain.
- Pick against the Spread: Michigan State
Season Record against KenPom Spread: 3-2