College Basketball: The 10 Most Intriguing Games of the Week
College basketball season is now in full swing.
The preseason tournaments are underway. The top dogs are asserting themselves, while others (cough, Vanderbilt, cough) struggle with mid-major competition.
With so many games going on day in and day out, it is difficult to pinpoint the must-see games of the week.
That is where I come in.
Weekly, I will compile a list of the 10 most intriguing games of the week. I hope to include some mid-major games in this list, but that is not always the case. I will also try to avoid my Big Ten bias, but that may not always be the case either.
For this early in the season, I will list only scheduled games. I will not speculate on possible matchups occurring later in a preseason tournament.
Georgetown vs. No. 14 Kansas (11/21, 11:50 PM ET)
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Georgetown comes in 2-0, while Kansas is 1-1. Kansas's loss came to Kentucky in New York.
The Jayhawks looked pretty good for a half against Kentucky, but were ran off the court in the second half.
Georgetown comes in unranked, but still undefeated after easy wins over Savannah State and University of North Carolina-Greensboro. The Hoyas are not expected to be as good as the last couple years, but under John Thompson III they will always have some fight in them—just ask that Chinese team.
This should show if Kansas is capable of beating the teams they should beat handily, or if Kentucky exposed them as an overrated team in the second half last week.
It should also show if Georgetown is a real contender in the Big East.
No. 22 Vanderbilt vs. Oregon State (11/21, 9:00 PM ET)
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Vanderbilt began the year ranked No. 7 in all the polls, and then got beat by Cleveland State.
Not a good start for a team that is known as an overrated school and one that is always upset-prone.
The Commodores get a chance to get back on track against a much-improved Oregon State team.
The Beavers are 4-0, including a 100-95 overtime win over Texas.
As with the Georgetown/Kansas game, this game should show if Oregon State is a team to watch; and if Vandy is worthy of their preseason hype.
Illinois vs. Richmond (11/22, 9:30 PM ET)
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The Fighting Illini come to Cancun to play Richmond.
The Illini are 3-0 with wins coming over lesser opponents (Loyola, Lipscomb and SIU-Edwardsville). Needless to say, they have yet to be tested.
Richmond is not as strong as last season, when they made the NCAA Tournament, but they are still an A-10 team (which is more than Illinois can say for their previous opponents). The Spiders enter at 3-1, with their lone loss coming to Davidson.
D.J. Richardson and Brandon Paul have been solid for Illinois, but this is their first test. Should be interesting.
Cleveland State @ Kent State (11/22, 7:30 PM ET)
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This is a great early season bracket-buster matchup.
Both Cleveland State and Kent state enter undefeated, at 3-0 and 2-0, respectively. While that may not seem impressive, remember that Cleveland State beat Vanderbilt and Kent State won a great game versus West Virginia.
Wins like these two teams have already this season are the kind of games that give mid-majors confidence going forward in the season and into March.
Somebody has to have their first loss.The winner of this game will have to feel pretty good about their early non-conference showing.
San Diego State at No. 23 Arizona (11/23, 8:30 PM ET)
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While San Diego State is trying to keep their momentum from a great year last year, Arizona is trying to do the same while building more for the great recruiting class they have coming next year.
San Diego State is 5-1 already on the young season, with wins coming over USC and Long Beach State, but also with a well-played loss against 12th-ranked Baylor.
Arizona is 4-1, with their only blemish coming to the surprisingly-hot Mississippi State team.
Arizona is expected to win this game, but if they lose to San Diego State following their upset at the hands of Mississippi State, things could get interesting for the Wildcats.
Virginia Tech vs. No. 5 Syracuse (11/23, 9:30 PM ET)
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Virginia Tech, the annual bubble team, has a chance to make an early season statement in Madison Square Garden against the Orangemen of Syracuse.
Syracuse is 4-0 and ranked fifth in the country, but have yet to play a decent opponent. Their closest game so far was a 24-point win against Albany.
If Seth Greenberg wants to put a huge non-conference win on his resume, this is it.
No. 1 North Carolina vs. South Carolina (11/25, 10:00 PM ET)
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I'll be the first to admit, I probably won't watch this game. The Gamecocks come in 1-2, including a loss to the Elon Phoenix.
That tells me that South Carolina's men's basketball is experiencing a down year.
However, to the people of the Carolina's this game means something, doesn't it?
It is still two (kind of) rivals in two power conferences squaring off early in the season.
Could be decent...or maybe not.
Northern Iowa vs. Providence (11/26, 10:00 PM ET)
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The Missouri Valley Conference is off to a blazing start. This was on full display yesterday, when the Creighton Blue Jays just dismantled my alma matter, the Iowa Hawkeyes.
Northern Iowa started their hot streak off with an impressive win over Old Dominion. UNI then lost to Saint Mary's, but that was a 3:00 a.m. game—Iowa time, so I wouldn't be too worried about that if I was a UNI fan.
Providence is trying to get their program out of the cellar of the Big East. Bryce Cotton has averaged over 20 points a game for them so far.
This is a big game for the Friars and Panthers, as well as the MVC as a conference.
VCU @ 13 Alabama (11/27, 9:30 PM ET)
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One of last year's Cinderellas play their biggest game of the early season Sunday, against 13th ranked Alabama.
Alabama has looked very good so far this year, with wins over Maryland, Wichita State and Purdue.
VCU has lost to Seton Hall and Georgia Tech, and strangely plays back-to-back games against Western Kentucky, whom they beat by five just yesterday.
VCU may not look great right now, but I guarantee Alabama is not overlooking the Rams.
Butler @ Indiana (11/27, 7:00 PM ET)
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Cody Zeller fever is taking over Indiana basketball. Hoosier fans are getting excited again.
The Hoosiers are 5-0, but have not had a true test yet.
Butler wants to keep their mantle as America's sweetheart, and Indiana's best basketball team.
So far, the Bulldogs have struggled. They lost in overtime to Evansville, and also lost to seventh-ranked Louisville.
This should be a heated matchup, with two Indiana teams battling it out in the Indiana basketball hotbed.