A full plate of Thanksgiving college hoops: Drexel at the Garden, Nova in Bahamas, and St. Joe's in Florida

A full plate of Thanksgiving college hoops: Drexel at the Garden, Nova in Bahamas, and St. Joe's in Florida

Through two-and-a-half weeks of the college basketball season, Drexel and St. Joe’s have joined Villanova as the best teams in Philly. Now comes the fun part, as all three teams will take Thanksgiving vacations that are more exciting than yours for some early-season tournament games against quality competition.

So if you don’t feel like watching Scott Tolzien or Matt Flynn try to throw a football against the Lions, or if you heed Tip #1 on the Evster’s guide to playing Thanksgiving football and don’t, um, do it, here are some local college hoops games you can watch while pigging out on turkey and stuffing.

Drexel vs. Arizona

When: Wednesday, 7 p.m.

What: NIT Season Tip-Off Semifinals

Where: Madison Square Garden

How to watch: ESPNU

The lowdown: There are some college basketball tournaments in November that seem silly and meaningless – but not this one. The preseason NIT (as it used to be called and what I still call it because I hate change) has been going on since 1985 at Madison Square Garden with the semifinals the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the championship and consolation the Friday after it. And the games are often previews of future NCAA tournament contests. With wins over Elon and Rutgers, Drexel crashed the Garden Party, joining No. 4 Arizona, No. 6 Duke and Alabama in the NIT semifinals. The Dragons have been playing well so far this season but if they find a way to beat Arizona and Duke in the span of two days, Drexel should erect a statue of Bruiser Flint next to the dragon statue on 33rd and Market. (Or maybe he can sit atop the dragon? We can figure something out.)

Storyline to watch: While the odds are certainly stacked against Drexel winning the tourney, the games will be a homecoming for New York City native Chris Fouch. And it all it took him was six years of college basketball to get to the Garden. But seriously, it’s nice to see Fouch healthy again after multiple injuries allowed him to come back as a sixth-year senior. And if you care at all about college hoops, you should check out this long-form feature on him over at Philahoops.com.

Villanova vs. USC

When: Thursday, 1 p.m.

What: Battle 4 Atlantis

Where: The freakin’ Bahamas

How to watch: Go to the freakin’ Bahamas (or figure out if you get AXS TV)

The lowdown: This Thanksgiving, the Villanova players will give thanks for the fact that they’re staying at a place called PARADISE ISLAND. Not a bad perk of playing college basketball. The Wildcats open against USC (a game they should win) right around when the first Thanksgiving football game kicks off, and will then play twice more over the next two days. The loaded tournament features a bunch of big-time programs, including No. 2 Kansas, who the Wildcats will likely play on Friday night. And if beating the second-ranked team in the nation isn’t enough of a perk, Villanova can use the fact that Kansas is calling a trip to a tropical island in November “a business trip” (is there a worse cliché?) as extra motivation.

Storyline to watch: Through the first four games of the season, Villanova has completely dominated its opponents, with only Delaware this past Friday giving the Wildcats any kind of scare. Now it looks as if Rice transfer Dylan Ennis will make his Villanova debut after breaking his hand in the preseason. The presence of a high-scoring guard like Ennis should make Villanova even more potent and will certainly give the Wildcats a better chance to beat a team like Kansas. But it will also be interesting to see how he fits into a rotation that’s already clicking very well.

St. Joe’s vs. LSU

When: Thursday, 8:30 p.m.

What: Old Spice Classic

Where: Orlando

How to watch: ESPN2

The lowdown: Instead of watching Thursday Night Football, you can flip over to ESPN2 to watch the Hawks’ first of three games at the ESPN World Wide Sports Complex at Disney World. St. Joe’s will then play either Memphis or Siena on Friday at either 5:30 p.m. or 8 p.m., before concluding the tourney Saturday in either the championship or a consolation. Hopefully that still leaves enough time for Phil Martelli to drink some butterbeer at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Storyline to watch: St. Joe’s freshman D’Andre Bembry looks like he’ll be a rising star, having already won an Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week award. But it will be a good test to see how the freshman handles a vacation-like setting in a competitive tournament that includes elite teams like Purdue, Oklahoma State, Butler and Memphis.

National champion Villanova to be honored at White House next week

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USA Today Images

National champion Villanova to be honored at White House next week

It's been nearly two months since Villanova won the National Championship in one of the most memorable games in NCAA Tournament history.

Since then, the Wildcats have been honored by the city (parade), the New York Stock Exchange (opening bell), the Phillies (first pitch), the Flyers and the Union. Earlier this week, head coach Jay Wright addressed the Eagles.

But that will all pale in comparison to where the Wildcats will be next Tuesday, when they become the latest championship team to visit the White House and meet President Barack Obama.

The ceremony is scheduled to begin at 4:10 p.m. and will be streamed on www.whitehouse.gov/live.

In his pool, President Obama had Villanova finally advancing past the second round — "I know that eventually they're going to break through. They've had some bad luck over the last couple of years," Obama told ESPN.com — but had the Wildcats falling to Kansas in the regional semifinal.

He then had Kansas beating North Carolina to win the title.

After surviving the first weekend for the first time since their Final Four run in 2009, Villanova ousted Kansas, 64-59, before shocking Buddy Hield and Oklahoma in the national semifinal, winning by 44. The Wildcats then won one of the most memorable championship games in NCAA Tournament history when Kris Jenkins hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to beat the Tar Heels, 77-74.

Union transfer contract of Michael Lahoud to Miami FC

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Union transfer contract of Michael Lahoud to Miami FC

The Union have cashed in on Michael Lahoud.

After terminating his loan to the New York Cosmos on Tuesday, the Union recalled Lahoud and officially sold the 29-year-old midfielder to Miami FC of the NASL for an undisclosed amount.

“Mike always served the club in a professional manner during his time here,” said Union sporting director Earnie Stewart, who loaned Lahoud to the Cosmos this offseason. “We thank him for his service and want to wish him the best of luck in Miami and in his future endeavors.”

Lahoud, whose prorated $115,637.50 guaranteed salary comes off the Union’s salary cap, was acquired in 2012 in a trade with Chivas USA for defender Danny Califf. He made 58 appearances with the Union before being loaned out.

Eagles' left guard job is Allen Barbre's, but backups are pushing

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Eagles' left guard job is Allen Barbre's, but backups are pushing

Allen Barbre is the Eagles’ starting left guard.

For now.

The 31-year-old offensive lineman started all 16 games at left guard in 2015, and as of Tuesday at OTAs, he was still a starter for Doug Pederson’s new-look offense.

But that could change.

There are several players pushing for the left guard spot. Among them are Stefen Wisniewski, Malcolm Bunche, Isaac Seumalo and Andrew Gardner.

“I definitely am trying to start somewhere,” said Wisniewski, a free-agent signing. “I think I would be a good starting left guard.”

Wisniewski, 27, signed a one-year prove-it deal in early April to join the Eagles (see story). After being taken in the second round of the 2011 draft, Wisniewski has started 77 of 80 possible games in the NFL. He clearly views himself as a starter in the NFL.

For the last two weeks, he’s been working with the second team at guard and center.

“Yeah, it’s weird. It’s definitely weird,” Wisniewski said. “I haven’t spent much time with the twos in five years. Probably a week or two. So it’s definitely different, but I’m just looking at it as a temporary thing, though.”

This offseason, the Eagles added veteran Brandon Brooks to play right guard, taking over for Matt Tobin, but Barbre is still slotted on the left side. In fact, to hammer the point home, the starting offensive linemen have their lockers in a row in the deep corner of the locker room, from left to right: Jason Peters, Barbre, Jason Kelce, Brooks, Lane Johnson.

So, as of late May, Barbre is still the starter.

“I really like where we're at. I like the depth at that position right now,” Pederson said last week. “But yeah, Allen Barbre is my guy and he's our starter.”

Wisniewski is the most accomplished of the backups pushing for that starting left guard spot, but he’s not alone.

Bunche, who was on the Eagles’ practice squad in 2015 after going undrafted out of UCLA, has been working with the second team at left guard during practice. And the second-year player thinks he has a shot at the starting job too.

“Oh yes. But not just that one,” Bunche said. “Throughout the season, anything can happen. That’s one thing that [offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland], he talks about it a lot, you never know when you’re number is going to be called. You just gotta stay in tune with what’s being called, the play-calling, the different techniques going into certain games. I feel I have an opportunity to take that spot if I wanted to. My mindset it to come in and get better each and every day.”

Another possible starting left guard isn’t with the team right now. Third-round pick Seumalo, from Oregon State, is back at school because of the NFL graduation rule and Oregon State’s quarters system. He would be a logical choice to compete for that starting job, but he’s missing valuable time at OTAs.

Meanwhile, Barbre, who had started just eight total games in his seven-year career before 2015, is trying to stave off his competitors. The veteran knows the team brought in a bunch of new offensive linemen this offseason (they have 17 on the roster). He just doesn’t care.

“Honestly, I wasn’t really worried about that,” Barbre said Tuesday. “Honestly, I thought I played fairly decent (in 2015), if you studied the film and you understood what went on. There was a lot of stuff that was tough on the O-line, so it made it kind of tough on us.”

The criticism of the offensive line last season was loud, especially criticism of the guard positions, but Barbre did his best to avoid it.  

“I don’t even read it,” he said. “Honestly, I don’t even care. You guys got your jobs and I have my job. We all have different things we have to do.”

Right now, Barbre’s job is to hold onto that starting spot, while Wisniewski and the rest try to steal it away.