10 Player Matchups We Can't Wait to See in 2013-14 NCAA Basketball Season
On Thursday, the Big 12 announced its league schedule this year. That brought with it the dates that were immediately circled on every college basketball fan's calender: Kansas vs. Oklahoma State. Or, for those who love the stars, Andrew Wiggins vs. Marcus Smart.
It has been awhile in college basketball since the sport had as many known stars heading into a season as is the case this upcoming year. Some of players, like Wiggins, have yet to play a minute of college ball, but we already feel like we know these guys.
You know when a network is trying to hype a game and they put up the most recognizable name from each team? Most years their best bet is putting up the faces of the coaches. Not this year. Similar to the NBA, the star players will be the attraction and what is publicized.
Lucky for us, the schedule-makers were kind and many of the biggest stars will go up against each other. These are 10 of the most DVR-worthy player matchups.
10. Patric Young vs. Willie Cauley-Stein and Dakari Johnson
It's rare anymore that we get to watch a marquee matchup between two potential NBA centers. The Kentucky-Florida game could have as many as four future pros in the middle if Florida's Chris Walker is eligible.
We still have to wait to see who wins the battle between Kentucky's Willie Cauley-Stein and incoming freshman Dakari Johnson for the starting center spot. Whoever it is, their toughest matchup this season will likely be against Young and the Gators.
9. Siyani Chambers vs. Ryan Boatright
This particular matchup, as you'll see, doesn't exactly fit with the rest. Maybe you haven't heard of Siyani Chambers? Let me refresh your memory. Chambers was the little lefty from Harvard who carved up New Mexico's defense in the NCAA tournament.
Ryan Boatright is the point guard for one of the better backcourts in the country. Boatright and Shabazz Napier are probably the quickest pair in the country, and they gave Chambers problems last year. He scored only three points and had five turnovers in a loss to UConn.
This will be one of the few opportunities—maybe the only opportunity before March—to see Chambers and company against a talented backcourt and top 25 team.
8. Noah Vonleh vs. Mitch McGary
We never really got to see the real Mitch McGary go up against Indiana's Cody Zeller—assuming the real McGary is the NCAA tournament version of the big man.
Zeller is gone but in his place steps another talented big man for the Hoosiers in Noah Vonleh. Last year's games between these two teams were extremely entertaining, in large part because of the guard play. The guards should still be good, but the biggest stars will reside in the paint.
7. C.J. Fair vs. Jabari Parker
The most-anticipated matchup in the new ACC is Syracuse and Duke. Mostly, it's because of the coaches and programs. But this first year we'll get what should be the first of many great individual matchups: C.J. Fair vs. Jabari Parker.
The biggest question mark surrounding Parker's game is his quickness and ability to play defense against athletic 3s. Fair is an athletic 3, who will likely be guarded by either Parker or Rodney Hood. On the other end, of course, the Orange will obviously be playing a zone. With Parker's ability to shoot all over the floor, he could play a big role in Coach K's game plan.
It will be an interesting chest match, and we get to see it play out at least twice.
6. Adreian Payne vs. Julius Randle
When: Nov. 12 in Chicago at Champions Classic
Adreian Payne is one of the most talented power forwards in the country. He's also a player with star potential who has never quite lived up to that billing. The expectation is that this will be his year.
Julius Randle might be the most talented power forward in the country. The expectation is that he'll be a star—the star—right away for Kentucky. The winner of this matchup could be one of the deciding factors, although it's not the only matchup to watch. Kentucky's Harrison twins against Michigan State's backcourt of Keith Appling and Gary Harris should be pretty good as well.
5. Jahii Carson vs. Doug McDermott
When: Nov. 28 at the Wooden Legacy
Arizona State point guard Jahii Carson and Creighton power forward Doug McDermott obviously do not play the same position. Barring a bad switch, they'll never guard each other. But that doesn't mean they will not have a mini-competition inside the game.
These are two of the best scorers in college basketball, and they put on a pretty good show last November when they matched up. Carson won the scoring battle, putting up 30 points, seven assists and four steals compared to McDermott's 29 points and nine rebounds. McDermott's Bluejays won the battle that mattered, the game, a 87-73 victory.
4. Glenn Robinson III vs. Aaron Gordon
When: Dec. 14 at Michigan
Most years, Arizona's Aaron Gordon would be the best incoming freshman in the country, and he very well could be this year. Glenn Robinson III turned out to be one of the best freshmen in the country last season.
The Pac-12 isn't exactly weak, but Robinson is probably the best player Gordon will go up against all year. Both players are great at the rim and have expressed a desire to show off their games on the perimeter. This will be a game where they know NBA scouts are watching, and they'll be aggressive. Hopefully Sean Miller and John Beilein will treat us to Gordon and Robinson guarding each other.
3. Andrew Wiggins vs. Jabari Parker
When: Nov. 12 in Chicago at the Champions Classic
Get the hype meter set. This will be first opportunity to see what kind of impact Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker can make on college basketball this year.
The two small forwards are no strangers to each other, especially after the high school all-star game tour last spring. Wiggins is the consensus best player in the class, but that is a title that belonged to Parker once upon a time before Wiggins reclassified from the 2014 class to 2013.
The game will also be an early opportunity to see the strength of Kansas and Duke, two teams with a lot of potential that are full of impact guys we've yet to see play together.
2. Harrison Twins vs. Russ Smith
When: Dec. 28 at Kentucky
This is the most anticipated game of the season—two rivals, the previous two champions who will start the season ranked one and two.
You'll have great matchups all over the court: Chane Behanan vs. Julius Randle, Montrezl Harrell vs. UK's bigs, Luke Hancock and Wayne Blackshear vs. Alex Poythress and James Young. The reason the Russ Smith vs. the Harrison twins is the choice matchup is they will probably add to the hype with their gift of gab.
All three like to talk. (Remember, Andrew Harrison said he'd beat Michael Jordan in his prime one-on-one!!!) Bank on all three offering up some prime smack before battle.
It's also the most important matchup on the court. The young Harrisons will need to be able to deal with Louisville's pressure—particularly that of Smith's—to win the game.
1. Andrew Wiggins vs. Marcus Smart
When: Saturday, January 18 at Allen Fieldhouse; Saturday, March 1 at Gallagher-Iba Arena
We already knew this game was going to happen (at least) twice, but now that they're on the schedule in print and in primetime, it's hard not to get a little giddy. The first meeting is on CBS and the second one will be on ESPN with College Gameday likely in attendance.
There's a reason they wait until the summer to schedule these games, and it was pretty simple logic to put Marcus Smart vs. Kansas in the prime slots; it became a must when Andrew Wiggins decided to be a Jayhawk.
Will we get to see the two stars guard each other? They play different positions, but it's definitely possible. KU's projected starting point guard, Naadir Tharpe, is too small to handle Smart. The Cowboys could use multiple defenders on Wiggins—Smart, Markel Brown or Le'Bryan Nash—but wouldn't it make sense to just go with their best defender on Wiggins? Smart will want that challenge.
ESPN and the Big 12 were on their games in scheduling the second meeting. The greatest month of the year will begin with two of the best—if not, the best—players in college basketball going against each other with a Big 12 title on the line possibly on the line. No matter your allegiance; you're going to want to watch that game.