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Preview: No. 3 Colorado, No. 10 NC State and No. 12 Texas are the teams to watch at the Paradise Jam

Among all the basketball action happening during the Thanksgiving weekend is the U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam. Eight teams, including three top-15 teams, are participating in the event that kicks off on Thursday.

Colorado v LSU
Aaronnette Vonleh and No. 3 Colorado will look to remain undefeated as they compete in the Paradise Jam.
Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

In keeping with the tradition of Thanksgiving basketball tournaments, eight teams will participate in the 2023 U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam, which is divided into the Reef and Island Tournaments. The action begins Thanksgiving Day and continues through the evening Saturday, Nov. 25.

The No. 3 Colorado Buffaloes, No. 10 NC State Wolfpack, Kentucky Wildcats and the Cincinnati Bearcats will participate in the Island Tournament. The Highpoint Panthers, Arizona State Sun Devils, South Florida Bulls and No. 12 Texas Longhorns will play in the Reef Tournament. All games will be available via ESPN+.

After the final games on Saturday, a champion will be crowned for both competitions. Without elimination games or title games, the champions of each tournament will be based on records, with the tiebreakers being the winners of head-to-head matchups followed by net margin of victory.

Ideally, you will just let all these games wash over you as you indulge in as much food as you can stomach. But, here are the three teams—all ranked in the top 15 and all undefeated—you must watch:


No. 3 Colorado Buffaloes (4-0)

The Buffaloes are the best team in the Paradise Jam, currently the third-ranked team in the country. With their opening upset win against then-No. 1 LSU, they’ve put the basketball world on notice—their time is now.

Watching Aaronette Vonleh is always a blast. With her 19.5 points a game, she’s likely to entertain and delight in the Islands. Of the three games the Buffaloes play, I’d recommend watching their matchup versus Cincinnati. As it’s the first game of the tournament, energy will be high. The Buffaloes will be looking to establish their dominance and get off on the right foot.

No. 10 NC State Wolfpack (4-0)

Another enticing team in the Island Tournament is NC State.

The Wolfpack are a top-10 team with a guard-heavy offense that’s exciting to watch. Their matchup against Colorado on Saturday should be thrilling. It not only will be a chance for NC State to pull off another upset against a higher-ranked opponent, but also to win the tournament and continue to climb up the national rankings.

No. 12 Texas Longhorns (4-0)

They say everything is bigger in Texas. I’m not sure if the Longhorns are bigger, but they certainly are better than everyone else in the Reef Tournament.

Ranked No. 12, Texas should use this weekend as an attempt to demonstrate its dominance. Rori Harmon is off to a good start, averaging 12.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and eight assists a game. I expect those numbers to only rise this weekend as Texas racks up some wins against lesser teams. If Texas wants to prove they belong in the top 10, their objective is simple—dominate. I expect that they will; I’m most looking forward to their opening night matchup versus Arizona State.


Game schedule

Thursday, Nov. 23

Cincinnati Bearcats vs. No. 3 Colorado Buffaloes (1 p.m. ET, ESPN+)

Kentucky Wildcats vs. No. 10 NC State Wolfpack (3:15 p.m. ET, ESPN+)

High Point Panthers vs. South Florida Bulls (5:45 p.m. ET, ESPN+)

Arizona State Sun Devils vs. No. 12 Texas Longhorns (8 p.m. ET, ESPN+)

Friday, Nov. 24

Kentucky Wildcats vs. No. 3 Colorado Buffaloes (1 p.m. ET, ESPN+)

Cincinnati Bearcats vs. No. 10 NC State Wolfpack (3:15 p.m. ET, ESPN+)

Arizona State Sun Devils vs. South Florida Bulls (5:45 p.m. ET, ESPN+)

High Point Panthers vs. No. 12 Texas Longhorns (8 p.m. ET, ESPN+)

Saturday, Nov. 25

No. 3 Colorado Buffaloes vs. No. 10 NC State Wolfpack (1 p.m. ET, ESPN+)

Cincinnati Bearcats vs. Kentucky Wildcats (3:15 p.m. ET, ESPN+)

High Point Panthers vs. Arizona State Sun Devils (6:45 p.m. ET, ESPN+)

South Florida Bulls vs. No. 12 Texas Longhorns (8 p.m. ET, ESPN+)