TV Schedule: Thursday, Nov. 23 12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2
Arena: HP Field House, Kissimmee, Fla.
Line: Xavier (-8.5)
The 2015 AdvoCare Invitational tips off on Thanksgiving Day with the undefeated Xavier Musketeers facing the unpredictable Avery Johnson led Alabama Crimson Tide. A win for either team would be great moving forward, and even better for recruiting because it is on a national network at lunch time on Thanksgiving.
The Crimson Tide entered the 2015-16 college basketball season with high expectations, mostly due to the arrival of their new head coach, Johnson. The former NBA Coach of the Year is expected to turn Alabama into a competitor in the SEC, but it’s going to take some time. A win over Xavier on Thanksgiving could be massive for the future of Alabama basketball.
The Musketeers, on the other hand, have stormed into the season with four good wins, including one against the then No. 24 ranked Michigan Wolverines. Being undefeated to this point looks great for Xavier, but it should be remembered that they had somewhat close games with “bad” teams like the Miami (OH) Redhawks and the Missouri Tigers. The Crimson Tide are not elite opponents, but they could sneak into the top 100 RPI range by the end of the season, making them a great resume boosting win in March.
Alabama has talent on their roster, but all the pieces are not there to upset Xavier. It should be closer than many predict, however. Expect the Crimson Tide to keep it close in the first half, but the Musketeers to pull away in the second half and secure a victory.
Prediction: Xavier 68, Alabama 62