College Basketball’s Two Best Tournaments in the 2023-24 Season

best college basketball tournaments

Every year there are some great tournaments in the college basketball ranks. And every year there are some teams or players that come out of them absolutely crushing expectations. Specifically, players break out and jump up draft boards after some of these tournaments, especially if they play higher level teams than they might during their conference season. Here are the tournaments to be watching this season.

College Basketball Tournaments

Maui Jim Maui Invitational (Nov. 20-22)

This annual tournament in Hawaii is a staple of the college basketball season and tends to feature some of the best teams each year. 2023’s iteration is no exception as it has Purdue, Tennessee, Syracuse, Gonzaga, Chaminade, UCLA, Marquette, and Kansas. Those are some major heavy hitters with many of them expected to be ranked in the preseason AP Poll and six of those teams could be ranked by the time this tournament takes place.

Tennessee has a solid class coming in, but will certainly rely on its upperclassmen to carry over their success from last season. Expect Zakai Ziegler, Santiago Vescovi, and Josiah-Jordan James to carry the load for this team throughout the season. They start this tournament against Syracuse who will be a total mystery. They have a new coach after Jim Boeheim retired and nobody really knows what to expect with this roster. The team could very easily play the spoiler as they could be overlooked coming in to this tournament.

Purdue and Gonzaga are the next matchup and their paths to getting here are completely different. Purdue has little roster turnover and return the Player of the Year in Zach Edey as well as a ton of scoring and ball handling around him. Meanwhile, Gonzaga lost Drew Timme, Julian Strawther and several other players. However, they overhauled the roster with transfers like Marcus Adams from Kansas, Ryan Nembhard from Creighton, and Graham Ike from Wyoming. If they can jel, this team could be incredibly dangerous.

Kansas will get to open against D2 Chaminade, and the Jayhawks might have lost a key cog in Jalen Wilson, but return their other major scorers. They also managed to reel in Michigan transfer Hunter Dickinson who should thrive in a system where coach Bill Self loves to feed his big men. That alone should put them at the top of the Big 12 rankings.

UCLA and Marquette might be the most fun first round matchup in this tournament as the Golden Eagles return a lot of experience. That’s especially true in Tyler Kolek, Kam Jones, and Oso Ighodoro. Meanwhile, the Bruins bring in a large freshmen class that includes Aday Mara — who is widely expected to be a one-and-done and several four-star recruits. This will likely be highlighted as a glitzy game and would be a huge resume booster for whichever team ends up winning.

Bad Boy Mowers Battle 4 Atlantis (Nov 22-24)

This is another regular tournament we see and it also has a bevy of great teams each year. This year’s field includes Michigan, Memphis, Northern Iowa, Arkansas, UNC, Texas Tech, Villanova, and Stanford.

UNI and Stanford are likely coming into this tournament as relative mystery teams. However, Stanford is bringing in a nice freshman class that includes Andrej Stojakovic, son of Kings legend Peja. UNI recently lost a player to a medical retirement in Austin Phyfe and that loss — even though he didn’t play last year either — could be a tough blow.

North Carolina is coming off one of the most disappointing seasons in recent memory and it was so bad that the Tarheels declined an invitation to the postseason. They return Armando Bacot and RJ Davis, but they lost Caleb Love to Michigan. Coach Hubert Davis also brought in an impressive recruiting class that includes four-star forward Zayden High and five-star guard Eliot Cadeau. They have a ton to prove this season and this tournament should help them.

Michigan is coming off a weird season itself and they lost their best player in Hunter Dickinson as well as Jett Howard to the draft. However, they nabbed Caleb Love in the transfer portal as well as Olivier Nkamhoua (Tennessee), and Nimari Burnett from Alabama. They will have to get their act together this year or coach Juwan Howard could be on the hot seat. Expect the offense to be a little smoother this year with Dug McDaniel running point.

Villanova was another school that struggled last year. A lot of that was due to the loss of head coach Jay Wright and the injury to first-round draft pick Cam Whitmore. This year, the Wildcats look to rebound with some familiar returners and some key transfers in Lance Ware (Kentucky) and Hakim Hart (Maryland). They face off against Texas Tech, who was pretty terrible in Big 12 play. The Red Raiders have completely revamped the team with two freshmen and six transfers who should all be immediately eligible.

Arkansas has completed yet another masterful recruiting class as it pertains to transfers. Coach Musselman brings back Trevon Brazile after he suffered a season-ending injury and then brings in the likes of Tramon Mark from Houston, Khalif Battle from Temple, and others to shore up his roster. They might need time to figure out who they are, but they’ll definitely play hard under Muss.

Memphis is finally in the “put up or shut up” phase under coach Penny Hardaway. The Tigers have gotten to the NCAA Tournament the last two years, but need to do better than advancing to the second round. This could be the squad to do it as Hardaway completely revamped his roster. He brought in a total of 13 new players via his recruiting class and the transfer portal. The additions include his son Ashton, viral sensation Mikey Williams, Alabama guard Jahvon Quinerly, and several others. In what should be a winnable AAC, Memphis has to show up big and getting some wins in this tournament would be a great start.

Be sure to check out these college basketball tournaments and more college updates on Project Spurs.


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