Arkansas, Kansas, North Carolina Favored in Thanksgiving Tourneys

Arkansas, Kansas, North Carolina Favored in Thanksgiving Tourneys
© USA Today

A common complaint about the start of college basketball betting season is the lack of marquee contests. Power Five teams regularly schedule weaker teams as tune-ups before conference play, leading to plenty of blowouts early on.

But the regularly scheduled tournaments during Thanksgiving week tend to finally give us more compelling matchups between competitive teams. 

The Maui Invitational, Battle 4 Atlantis and Phil Knight Invitational each are filled with national title contenders and conference championship favorites. Here’s a breakdown of each tournament. 

All betting odds are from FanDuel Sportsbook

Maui Invitational 

After COVID-19 concerns forced the 2021 tournament to be held in Las Vegas, the Maui Invitational returns to the Lahaina Civic Center in Maui. 

Of the three tournaments, it boasts one of the strongest fields with No. 9 Arkansas, No. 10 Creighton, No. 14 Arizona and No. 23 Texas Tech headlining the field. Chaminade, a Division II school in Hawaii, is not competing for just the second time in the event’s history, leading to a stronger group of fields.

Arkansas is the tournament favorite at +250, followed by Arizona +300, San Diego State (+430), Creighton (+450) and Texas Tech (+550). All five of those teams enter undefeated, but without having faced a top-tier team. 
Ohio State (+950), Cincinnati (+3500) and Louisville (+9500) are the longshots in the group. 

Battle 4 Atlantis

The Battle 4 Atlantis tournament features eight teams who all rank inside the KenPom top 90 rankings. 

No. 6 Kansas is the headliner and the tournament favorite at +130. The Jayhawks have one of the more impressive wins this season, beating No. 7 Duke in the Champions Classic on Tuesday. 

No. 23 Tennessee is second on the odds board at +250. Tennessee suffered a defeat as 16-point favorites to Colorado on Nov. 13 for one of the bigger upsets so far. The Volunteers’ biggest highlight may have come in an exhibition contest against No. 2 Gonzaga when Tennessee won convincingly 99-80. 

Dayton (+650), USC (+900), Wisconsin (+1000), BYU (+1200), Butler (+3000) and North Carolina State (+4000) round out the rest of the teams. 
 

Phil Knight Invitational 

Since its memorable March Madness run to the national title game last season, No. 1 North Carolina has yet to be truly tested. The Tar Heels trailed Charleston by seven at halftime before outscoring the Cougars 59-36 in the second half for a 102-86 win for the only moment of real drama for the Tar Heels during the early season. 

But the Phil Knight Invite will give us a look at how North Carolina's returning core of Armando Bacot, Leaky Black, R.J. Davis and Caleb Love integrates with Northwestern transfer Pete Nance against elite opponents. 

No. 18 Alabama is second on the odds board at +420 and enters undefeated after facing inferior competition so far. Michigan State is third at +450 and already has had two competitive games versus top-ranked teams. The Spartans fell 64-63 to No. 2 Gonzaga before earning an 86-77 victory over No. 4 Kentucky and a 73-71 win at home against Villanova. 

Villanova is tied for the fourth-best odds in the Phil Knight Invite at +650, along with Connecticut (+650). Oregon (+850), Iowa State (+900) and Portland (+19000) make up the rest of the tournament.

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