The Biggest Games of the Year for the Top 10 College Basketball Teams
With the college basketball season quickly approaching us, it is time to turn the focus to the top 10 teams in the nation.
As is done with every set of preseason previews, the attention is on the biggest games of the season and the tests that the top 10 teams in the nation will face during the season.
These marquee games will not only test the top 10 teams, but it will show the true character of the teams who want to earn the title of national champion in April.
Here are the biggest games of the year for the top 10 teams in the AP Preseason Top 25 poll.
Biggest Game of the Year: December 15th at Arizona
Florida has a different nonconference schedule that includes Wisconsin, Marquette, Kansas State and the annual showdown with Florida State as well as a difficult SEC schedule that includes Kentucky and Missouri.
However, the biggest test all season for the Gators will be their trip to Tucson on December 15th to take on 12th-ranked Arizona.
Florida will have been battle tested with games against Wisconsin and Florida State by that point in the season, but it will be Arizona's first chance to prove itself on a national stage.
Sean Miller has been rebuilding the Arizona program for three years now, and the 2012-13 is supposed to be the breakout year for the Wildcats.
With a cross-country trip across two time zones to face a program looking to get back into the national conversation, Florida will have a huge test of their skill and character at the McKale Center.
Biggest Game of the Year: January 19th at Louisville
Before making their trip to Louisville in mid-January, Syracuse will be relatively untested by the teams on their schedule.
After their opener with San Diego State on Friday, the Orange's schedule will get much easier with Temple being the toughest team on the schedule until the Louisville game.
Not only will the trip to the KFC Yum! Center be the first big road test for Jim Boeheim's team, it will also be a gage of how good the team will do in Big East play.
The Louisville game is also the second game in a string of five straight Big East games that will decide Syracuse's season.
In the other four games during that run are a home-and-home with Villanova, a trip to Pitt and a home game with Cincinnati.
Biggest Game of the Year: February 13th vs. North Carolina
It is hard not to choose the North Carolina game at Cameron Indoor as Duke's biggest game of the season.
Once again, it could come down to Duke and North Carolina fighting for the ACC regular season title with NC State looking to shock both of them.
The Blue Devils play NC State twice before they host their Tobacco Road rivals on February 13th.
With those two important games, as well as a trip to Florida State under their belt before they host the Tar Heels, a Duke win at home against North Carolina could put them in pole position to win the ACC.
Biggest Game of the Year: December 22nd at Ohio State
Kansas only has two big games on their nonconference schedule, and they are both against Big 10 opposition.
The second of those two games will occur in Columbus on December 22nd.
This may be one of the few tests that the Jayhawks will face all season with the Big 12 being a conference that only possesses two top 25 teams to start the season. Baylor is the other team from the conference that is ranked in preseason.
With a weak conference schedule, Bill Self and company will want to bolster their chances for a number one seed with a marquee win over the Buckeyes in December.
#6 NC State
Biggest Game of the Year: January 12th vs. Duke
NC State are getting a lot of love in the preseason and deservedly so with an experienced lineup and a strong head coach in Mark Gottfried.
If the Wolfpack want to become ACC champions and go far in the NCAA Tournament, they will have to prove themselves to everyone else by winning big games in conference.
The first of those big games comes 12 days into the new year and in their third conference game.
Duke makes a visit to the PNC Arena on January 12th, and it will be a test for the Wolfpack to earn an early conference win.
Although there will be plenty more games to play during the season, a win against Duke in their third conference game will be a huge boost for the rest of the season.
Biggest Game of the Year: February 5th vs. Ohio State
Michigan's most difficult part of their schedule comes once the calendar turns to February.
The only home game in a stretch of four games against ranked opponents comes against their biggest rival, Ohio State.
With the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry quickly becoming as intense as the football rivalry with the recent success of the Wolverines, there is no doubt that the Crisler Arena will be a huge advantage for Michigan that night.
If you are wondering what those other three games in that four-game stretch are, they are road trips to Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan State.
#4 Ohio State
Biggest Game of the Year: March 5th at Indiana
Ohio State will be playing in some high-profile games all season long, but the final one of them could be the most important.
A trip to Assembly Hall for the second-to-last regular season game of the year may be the deciding factor in the Big 10 title race and for a potential number-one seed.
The Buckeyes are the strongest challenger to Indiana's quest to get back on top of the conference, and they have a strong chance of beating them in Columbus in February.
Once again, the Buckeyes will rely on the experience of junior guard Aaron Craft, who may be the key to winning the Big 10 this season.
Biggest Game of the Year: December 29th at Louisville
Kentucky should not have a problem winning the SEC this season, but what should worry Wildcats fans is what they do during their nonconference schedule.
The game that has been circled on the calendar of almost all basketball fans in Kentucky is the one on December 29th at the KFC Yum! Center between Kentucky and Louisville.
Games early on in the season against Duke, Notre Dame and Baylor will surely test the young Wildcats team, but this game means the most to all Wildcats fans, and they will be looking for the newcomers to take down their in-state rivals.
Biggest Game of the Year: December 29th vs. Kentucky
Louisville's first big test of the season comes against in-state rivals Kentucky at home on December 29th.
The Cardinals play a relatively easy nonconference schedule going into the game and should still be undefeated.
Rick Pitino has a team that will contend for a national title, and he will silence whatever critics the team may have if they beat Kentucky.
After the Kentucky game, Louisville could potentially go undefeated with Syracuse being their only big challenger during Big East play.
Biggest Game of the Year: February 10th at Ohio State
Believe it or not, Indiana's first road test does not come until February 10th when they make a visit to Columbus to play Ohio State.
The Hoosiers do not play a road game until New Years' Eve against Iowa with two neutral site games in nonconference play against Butler and Georgia not counting as road games.
Ohio State are the defending champions of the Big 10, and they will not be giving up their title easily.
If Indiana want to win the Big 10 they will have to go into Columbus and beat Ohio State in what could be a battle of number one versus number two.