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.

2017 Eagles Cost Analysis, C: Cash money or Kelce?

2017 Eagles Cost Analysis, C: Cash money or Kelce?

Time to talk everybody's favorite Eagles whipping boy, or one of them in Jason Kelce, who's viewed very differently by fans than he is his peers. Case in point, it might surprise some readers to learn Kelce was named a second alternate to the Pro Bowl for 2016, which means a lot of NFL players and coaches must've been voting for him.

We know Eagles fans weren't coming out in droves. Yet if we were to go off of only the respect people around the league have for Kelce, he's considered one of the top eight centers in football. That ranking also happens to be roughly commensurate with his salary cap hit for 2017, which is currently 10th at the position, according to OverTheCap.

That's still going to be high for many critics that say Kelce is too undersized and has become too frequently penalized in recent years. It's especially high when you tell some of those same people the Eagles could save nearly $4 million by going in a different direction.

The trade or release of Kelce would free up $3.8 million to be exact, although once again, that's before we consider the cost of replacing him. And unlike other areas of the Eagles roster, there really isn't a young prospect waiting in the wings to take over, even somebody who is maybe only a year away from being ready to take over.

So if the Eagles were to get rid of Kelce, they would have to pay somebody to replace him. Granted, only 14 centers carry a higher cap number, and many starters make half of the six-year veteran's money, so there are cheaper options available — although, what kind of quality is the offense getting for that price?

Kelce is a perfect example of when the grass isn't always greener. There are some big, mauling centers around the NFL, like the Pouncey brothers, and who doesn't love that? But while Kelce isn't necessarily going to rip anybody's spine out at the point of attack, there probably isn't a better center in the league at pulling or blocking at the second and third levels. He's a unique player from that perspective, something people tend to forget.

The Eagles are not going to upgrade the position by going significantly cheaper. Kelce can hold his own in pass protection, and he's elite when the play design allows him to get into space. There's also something to be said for his knowledge of the offense, in addition to the rapport he's building with Carson Wentz.

Best case scenario, the Eagles are probably replacing him with Stefan Wisniewski, who the club paid $2.76 million in 2016. Figuring a raise, that's most of their cap savings right there, and Wisniewski is not nearly as decorated or so widely respected by his peers. There must be a reason for that.

Kelce is pretty good.

CENTERS UNDER CONTRACT

Jason Kelce
Age: 30*
Cap Number: $6,200,000

The bigger issue with Kelce is he's approaching his 30th birthday this year, although many centers enjoy lengthy careers, especially the guys who play more of a finesse game. And if the Eagles do want to start thinking about the future, it might help if they begin developing his replacement now. Kelce will be much easier to move on from in 2018 in terms of the salary cap, so if the Eagles draft somebody this year, theoretically they could move on next season. Keep in mind, Kelce was a sixth-round pick, and the club got a lot of mileage out of him, so it doesn't have to be a major investment. Plus, if that doesn't work out, renegotiation could be on the table, with Kelce's cap hit reaching $7.2 million in '18, but only $1.2 million of prorated signing bonus left on a contract that runs through 2020. The Eagles will be looking to reduce their costs, while Kelce will want some financial security.

Josh Andrews
Age: 26*
Cap Number: $615,000

Andrews joined the Eagles as an undrafted free agent out of Oregon State in 2014, and after a few years of clinging to the practice squad and on the 53-man roster as a reserve, finally saw his first action on offense this season. He played one snap at center against the Ravens in Week 15. Andrews can also line up at guard and has played special teams, though spent most of '16 inactive. He seems like a bit of a Chip Kelly outcast at this point, although it's difficult to put him in a box with so little actual experience. Is Andrews somebody who simply hasn't been given an opportunity and could fill in capably for Kelce, or will the Eagles feel the need to find competition for his roster spot?

Aaron Neary
Age: 25*

Neary originally joined the Broncos roster as an undrafted rookie, but found his way to the Eagles practice squad following his release. The Eastern Washington prospect was a two-time All-American at the Division I-AA level. At 6-foor-1, 305 pounds, Neary is considered undersized, like Kelce, which suggests this organization wants nimble centers like that. While he's probably a ways away from having any impact, the Eagles signed Neary to a futures contract at the conclusion of the season.

* Age as of 12/31/2017

Emmanuel Acho and Joe Banner have hilarious Twitter exchange about his awful trade

Emmanuel Acho and Joe Banner have hilarious Twitter exchange about his awful trade

You probably remember Emmanuel Acho more for his Twitter exploits than for anything he ever did on a football field. That was the case once again over the weekend when another former Eagle had a huge game for the Patriots in their win over the Houston Texans in the AFC playoffs.

Oh, and former Philadelphia Eagles decision maker Joe Banner was also involved.

All of it started because Dion Lewis, a one-time Eagles running back drafted in the 5th round in 2011, scored three TDs in a variety of ways on the Patriots way to another AFC title game.

The joke here is that Banner -- then with the Browns -- was on the winning end of the Lewis-for-Acho trade and was himself eventually fired from his job in Cleveland. But hey, at least Acho got out of that awful city.

Lewis has battled injury for much of his career and hasn't exactly been the second coming of LeSean McCoy but he's yet another case of the Bill Belichick Patriots finding a player who had floundered with other teams only to flourish in big moments in New England.

And Joe Banner may have seen that potential early on.