4 Games to Watch When College Basketball Tips Off on Friday

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistNovember 5, 2012

4 Games to Watch When College Basketball Tips Off on Friday

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    Friday marks the beginning of what is sure to be yet another exciting season of college basketball all around America.

    Last season, Kentucky ran the table and won the National Championship with a star-studded lineup led by Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who left the Wildcats program for the NBA along with three other underclassmen that starred in the Wildcats' title run.

    This season, Indiana is on top of the preseason rankings as head coach Tom Crean has built a strong team around sophomore forward Cody Zeller.

    While the true contenders for the national title may not be decided on the first night of the season, there are plenty of intriguing match ups for fans to keep an eye on.

    Here are four games on Friday night that you should watch.

No. 14 Michigan State vs. UConn

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    The only college basketball game to be played outside of North America on Friday will be in Ramstein, Germany.

    The Armed Forces Classic will be played between Michigan State and UConn.

    The Spartans are coming off of a season in which they earned a top seed in the NCAA Tournament but were eliminated in the Sweet 16 at the hands of Louisville.

    Coach Tom Izzo has a younger team this season and will rely on junior point guard Keith Appling and senior center Derrick Nix early in the season as freshmen like Gary Harris get accustomed to the college game.

    UConn is going through plenty of change at the moment with the most significant switch being Kevin Ollie replacing the legendary Jim Calhoun as head coach.

    Junior guard Shabazz Napier will have to step up and have a career game for the Huskies to have a chance against the Spartans on Friday.

    Luckily for the Huskies, their non-conference schedule is light with the exception of NC State and Washington before they enter the gauntlet of Big East play.

No. 9 Syracuse vs. No. 20 San Diego State

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    Syracuse and San Diego State will battle on the USS Midway in San Diego on Friday night.

    Friday will be one of the few chances this season that the Aztecs get to upset a Top 25 team with UCLA and UNLV being the only other teams in the preseason Top 25 that are on the Aztecs' schedule.

    Once again, Jamaal Franklin and Chase Tapley will be the focal points of Steve Fisher's offense, but the Aztecs will need role players to step up in big games like the one on Friday if they want to go undefeated this season.

    The Orange also have a weak non-conference schedule with San Diego State being the only ranked team on their schedule until they visit second-ranked Louisville on January 19 in Big East play.

    Jim Boeheim will have plenty of time to get his young team ready to go for Big East play after Friday's game, but the youth in his lineup may be a concern going into their first game of the season.

No. 3 Kentucky vs. Maryland

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    As there always is with the national champion from the previous season, there will be plenty of attention on Kentucky in its opening game of the season.

    The Wildcats will open their season on Friday at the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. against Maryland.

    John Calipari has reloaded his squad with plenty of solid freshmen once again with center Nerlens Noel being the top player on the team.

    Kentucky may not be as good as it was last season, but with bigger names like Duke on the schedule early in the season, the Wildcats will need to look dominant against a weak Maryland team.

    The Terrapins are looking to improve on Mark Turgeon's first season as coach, and an upset of Kentucky would be the perfect start to their season.

    However, that upset is unlikely to happen on Friday as the Terps are a team in disarray to start the season.

No. 10 Florida vs. Georgetown

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    Florida and Georgetown will square off in the East Coast version of the Carrier Classic in the Navy/Marine Corps Classic in Jacksonville on the USS Bataan.

    The Gators lost a key cog in their offense during the offseason when Bradley Beal left for the NBA.

    Billy Donovan does have a star player returning as last season's leading scorer Kenny Boynton returns for his senior season in Gainesville.

    The Hoyas do not have a single senior on their roster and have just four juniors for John Thompson III to choose from.

    The rest of the players on the Georgetown roster are young, and while it may be considered a rebuilding season at the beginning, Thompson and the Hoyas could pleasantly surprise some people when conference play comes around.