USC headlines eight-team Thanksgiving weekend tourney

Updated: August 20, 2007, 12:01 AM ET
Associated Press

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- O.J. Mayo will be getting some early season national exposure when Southern California and seven other teams play in the new Anaheim Classic over Thanksgiving weekend.

Mayo, one of the nation's most highly touted recruits, will be three games into his college basketball career when the Trojans play San Diego on Thanksgiving night on ESPN2.

Three hours earlier, USC's football team will play at Arizona State in a game shown on ESPN.

"There's not a lot going on Thanksgiving day anyway," coach Tim Floyd said. "We'll be following our great football team that night with a high-profile player and hopefully a high-profile team."

He said ESPN approached the Trojans about playing in the inaugural event.

"They came to us with the idea that we would love to start this tournament, but we're not sure we're going to do it unless you're involved," Floyd said.

The eight teams will play three games each from Nov. 22-25, taking Nov. 24 off to frolic at Disneyland. Five of the games will be shown on ESPN2, with the others televised on ESPNU.

The other Thanksgiving day matchups are: Mississippi State against UC Irvine; Southern Illinois vs. Tennessee-Chattanooga; and Miami of Ohio against Southern Alabama.

USC and Southern Illinois reached the final 16 in last season's NCAA tournament, while Miami of Ohio lost in the first round. Mississippi State reached the NIT semifinals, while South Alabama lost in the opening round.

The so-called title game will feature the remaining two undefeated teams. The other teams will play consolation games.

In future years, the event will include teams from eight difference conferences. As host, the Big West will enter a team every year.

"To get the exposure you need at the mid-majors is very difficult and we've had to sell our soul to go play a lot of teams," UC Irvine coach Pat Douglass said. "To be able to come up here and play three games in four days on a neutral court is kind of unheard of for a mid-major program."

Organizers said UCLA has been approached about playing in future years. Arizona State, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State already have committed.

Games will be played at the 7,500-seat Anaheim Convention Center, which has hosted the Big West tournament for seven years.

As an exempt event, schools will be allowed to count only one game toward the NCAA limit, although all three games they play count on their records.

The Old Spice Classic will be played for the second consecutive year on the same dates at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando, Fla. The California and Florida events are owned by ESPN Regional Television.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press