Like a shopping spree in the hours right before Christmas, there are opportunities for locals to wait until the last minute to stuff their stockings with basketball, too. Las Vegas is home to at least three Division I basketball tournaments or showcases in the days leading up to Christmas. Here’s a primer on where to go and who to see.
MGM Grand Showcase
When & where: December 21, Grand Garden Arena
Who: Marquette vs. New Mexico, 6 p.m.; No. 7 Oklahoma State vs. No. 20 Colorado, 8:30 p.m.
Why you should go: The Lobos return in February to play UNLV, but here’s an early chance to cheer or boo at the Rebels’ rival as you see fit. And the nightcap features the only matchup of two ranked teams in the country that day. Also, Oklahoma State point guard Marcus Smart is on track to be one of the top 5 players selected in June’s NBA Draft.
Las Vegas Classic
When & where: December 22 & 23, Orleans Arena
Who: Eight teams, highlighted by UNLV, South Florida, Mississippi State and Santa Clara
Why you should go: That’s an easy answer for Rebels fans, who can watch their team play Santa Clara at 7:30 p.m. Sunday and then either South Florida or Mississippi State Monday night. The matinee games feature 2013 NCAA Tournament darling Florida Gulf Coast, plus Radford, Sacred Heart and Florida A&M.
South Point Holiday Hoops Classic
When & where: December 19-22, South Point Arena and Equestrian Center
Who: Fourteen teams, highlighted by Bradley, Princeton, Portland and Pacific
Why you should go: What it lacks in headliners this one makes up for in volume. The four above teams play on back-to-back nights (Friday and Saturday). The rest of the time it’s a smorgasbord of Division II men’s and women’s hoops.