College basketball kicked off very quietly this past Friday but it should make a whole lot of noise in the next two days. ESPN's seventh-annual college hoops tip-off marathon gets underway tonight with some great matchups around the clock that lead up to the Champions Classic on Tuesday night which includes Kentucky, Kansas, Michigan State, and Duke. The true 'kick off' game in the marathon is our Zags vs. the SMU Mustangs but there are a bunch of other really intriguing matchups throughout the event that will be worth your time (even if it is at 2am) - let's take a look at the slate
Monday, November 17th (All Times Pacific)
Miami at Florida, 4 p.m. (ESPNU)
SMU vs. Gonzaga, 8 p.m. (ESPN2)
Detroit vs. Oregon, 8 p.m. (ESPNU) Legends Classic
Auburn vs. Colorado, 10 p.m. (ESPN2)
Tuesday, November 18th (All Times Pacific)
New Mexico State vs. St. Mary's, 12 a.m. (ESPN2)
High Point vs. Hawaii, 2 a.m. (ESPN2)
Iona vs. Wofford, 4 a.m. (ESPN2)
Northern Iowa vs. Stephen F. Austin, 4 a.m. (ESPN2)
Manhattan vs. UMass, 8 a.m. (ESPN2)
Baylor vs. South Carolina, 9 a.m. (ESPN)
Wichita State vs. Memphis, 11 a.m. (ESPN) - In Sioux Falls, S.D.
Utah vs. San Diego State, 1 p.m. (ESPN)
Toledo vs. VCU, 3 p.m. (ESPNU) - Part of Legends Classic
Michigan State vs. Duke, 4 p.m. (ESPN) - Champions Classic in Indianapolis
Marquette vs. Ohio State, 4:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
Kansas vs. Kentucky, 6:30 p.m. (ESPN) - Champions Classic in Indianapolis
Texas Tech vs. LSU, 6:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
Best Games To Watch
This list excludes the Champions Classic games on Tuesday night as, of course you are going to watch those.
1. SMU at Gonzaga: Duh as we are very biased but this is a premier matchup on a national level, as well.
2. Utah at San Diego State: A battle of ranked opponents matches up the freakishly talented Aztecs against the up and coming Utes. Utah was bit of a surprise in the AP Top 25 this preseason but they return a lot of talent from a good team last year and will be a very tough first test for SDSU. It will be very intriguing to see if they can replace the output of Xavier Thames. Many Aztec fans are putting a lot of that onus on Dwayne Polee, the bouncy forward that has struggled with consistency throughout his career.
3. Wichita State vs. Memphis: It is odd to think that a 35-1 team from a season ago shouldn't drop off that much but, in all honesty, the Shockers should not. They return a wealth of talent, particularly in the backcourt, that should make them a consistent top-15 team this season. I'm mainly interested in watching this one to see what kind of matchup we can expect for the Zags against Memphis on New Years Eve. The Tigers were embarrassed in a loss to DII Christian Brothers earlier this season and they need a big response to get their season off to a decent start. I don't expect them to win, but the have the talent to make it a very close contest.
4. New Mexico State vs. Saint Mary's: This is your sneaky good matchup to watch of the marathon. The NMSU Aggies were a 26-win team a season ago and took San Diego State down to the wire in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. They are 0-1 on the season but that loss came to Wichita State and we know how deadly the Shockers will be this season. Saint Mary's also has the potential to wow some folks this year. It is very much a new look Gaels club but Brad Waldow will still be leaned on to lead Randy Bennett's team and he has a very solid supporting cast in his senior year.