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It ain't Maui, but Old Spice has quantity, solid quality


LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Given a choice, I'd rather watch greatness.

A true national title contender.

A future No. 1 pick.

You know, things like that.

But quantity also has its advantages (especially in November), which is why I'm spending Thanksgiving at Disney's Wide World of Sports. I'm here for the Old Spice Classic -- an eight-team event that'll allow me to see 12 games over a four-day span.

Wisconsin's Jon Leuer is one -- if not the best -- player to watch in what should be a highly entertaining Old Spice Classic. (AP)  
Wisconsin's Jon Leuer is one -- if not the best -- player to watch in what should be a highly entertaining Old Spice Classic. (AP)  
Will one of these teams emerge as college basketball's next national champion? Honestly, I doubt it. But Temple, Georgia, Wisconsin, Texas A&M and Notre Dame are all schools I've projected to make the NCAA tournament, and California is coming off a lopsided win over a New Mexico team picked in the top three of a better-than-most-realize Mountain West Conference. So what the Old Spice lacks in greatness (only Temple is in the latest AP poll) it makes up for with lots of goodness.

(Does goodness even make sense? Either way, you get the point.)

The event tips Thursday at noon ET.

Here's a primer to get you ready for what's to come:

Best team: Temple is 2-0, ranked 13th in the latest Top 25 (and one) and deserves this label. The Owls return four of their top five scorers from a roster that finished 29-6 last season, 14-2 in the Atlantic 10. There's nothing all that flashy or exciting about them because they're not loaded with future lottery picks. But this is a really good team with a really good coach, and Temple should be the favorite to win this event.

Best player: Wisconsin's Jon Leuer was great last season (when healthy), even better this summer working out with USA Basketball. Consequently, he's a third-team Preseason All-American, and never mind if he didn't show it in last weekend's loss to UNLV. Let's just chalk that 10-point/four-rebound effort up as a bad afternoon, the kind everybody has at one time or another. Leuer, a 6-foot-10 forward, is still averaging 18 points and six rebounds while shooting 64 percent from 3-point range. I suspect he'll perform well at the Milk House.

Best prospect: Georgia's Trey Thompkins is the guy here who intrigues NBA scouts most, but will he even play? The 6-9 forward has missed the Bulldogs' first three games because of a severely sprained ankle. He practiced Tuesday for the first time since October, and Georgia coach Mark Fox told me afterward that it remains undetermined whether Thompkins will be available for the Old Spice. "Most guys practice for a month before they play their first game," Fox said. "Trey hasn't practiced in a month." My guess: Thompkins will try to play at some point if possible. But it's difficult to imagine him getting a lot of minutes, or looking sharp given how much time he's missed.

Best first-day matchup: The third game Thursday is the only one that puts two projected NCAA tournament teams against each other. It's Georgia (3-0) vs. Notre Dame (4-0) at 7 p.m. ET. The winner gets the Temple-California winner on Friday. Should be fun, if only because there's always a chance Georgia's Travis Leslie will provide the Dunk of the Day.

Championship game I hope to watch Sunday: There's really no possibility here as good as the Kentucky-Connecticut final of the Maui Invitational or the Duke-Kansas State final of the CBE Classic, but Temple vs. Wisconsin probably is the most interesting. It would mean the Owls had spent the first two days beating a Pac-10 school and a Big East or SEC school, and that they'd have a chance to finish the event by bouncing a Big Ten school, too. On the other side, it would put Leuer on a stage to have a get-to-know-him moment, and a Wisconsin win would launch the Badgers back into the Top 25 (and one) while rivaling what a fellow Big Ten member (i.e. Minnesota) accomplished earlier this week in Puerto Rico.

Gary Parrish is a senior college basketball columnist for and frequent contributor to the CBS Sports Network. The Mississippi native also hosts the highest-rated sports talk radio show -- The Gary Parrish Show -- in the history of Memphis. He lives in that area with his wife, two children and a dog.

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