ESPN Tip-Off Marathon 2014 Schedule: Dates, TV Info and Matchups

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistNovember 17, 2014

Nov 14, 2014; Lawrence, KS, USA; Kansas Jayhawks forward Perry Ellis (34) shoots a layup during the second half against the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos at Allen Fieldhouse. Kansas won 69 - 59. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

March Madness might be months away, but ESPN gives an early excuse to sit on the couch and watch college basketball all day (as if you needed one) with its Tip-Off Marathon.

The annual event features at least one game on one of the ESPN networks at all hours of the day for close to 29 hours in a row. If you have been missing college basketball since the last "One Shining Moment" video aired, this is a great way to satisfy your craving.

With some of the best teams and players in the nation, this entire event should be a thrill to watch. Here is a guide to help you keep up with as much of the action as possible.

ESPN Tip-Off Marathon Schedule
Monday, Nov. 17
Time (ET)MatchupTV
7 p.m.Baylor vs. Kentucky (women)ESPN2
7 p.m.Miami at FloridaESPNU
9 p.m.Connecticut at Stanford (women)ESPN2
11 p.m.SMU at GonzagaESPN2
11 p.m.Detroit at OregonESPNU
Tuesday Nov. 18
Time (ET)MatchupTV
1 a.m.Auburn at ColoradoESPN2
3 a.m.New Mexico State at Saint Mary'sESPN2
5 a.m.High Point at HawaiiESPN2
7 a.m.Iona at WoffordESPN2
9 a.m.Northern Iowa at Stephen F. AustinESPN2
11 a.m.Manhattan at UMassESPN2
12 p.m.Baylor at South CarolinaESPN
2 p.m.Wichita State vs. MemphisESPN
4 p.m.Utah at San Diego StateESPN
6 p.m.Toledo at VCUESPNU
7 p.m.Michigan State vs. DukeESPN
7:30 p.m.Marquette at Ohio StateESPN2
9:30 p.m.Kansas vs. KentuckyESPN
9:30 p.m.Texas Tech at LSUESPN2
via ESPNMediaZone.com

Top Matchups to Watch

Kentucky vs. Kansas

Nov 14, 2014; Lexington, KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats guard Aaron Harrison (2) guard forward Alex Poythress (22) forward Willie Cauley-Stein (15) guard Andrew Harrison (5) enter the game after a time out during the game against the Grand Canyon Antelopes at
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This is not only the best matchup of the day, it is one of the best games you will see all regular season in college basketball.

Kentucky comes into the year with as much hype as any team in recent memory and a roster loaded with McDonald's All-Americans and future NBA stars. Eric Prisbell of USA Today believes this team will win a national championship, with the only question being whether it can run the table:

Eric Prisbell @EricPrisbell

My Final Four: Kentucky, Wisconsin, Texas, Iowa State. Title game: Kentucky over Wisconsin. Undefeated season? No. National title? Yes.

SMU coach Larry Brown thinks you can split up the roster and have the two best teams in the country, via Myron Medcalf of ESPN.com.

However, talent does not always win at this level. With so many players looking for playing time, head coach John Calipari will need to vary his roster as he attempts to use his platoon system. This could prevent anyone from getting into a real rhythm on the court.

Meanwhile, Kansas has plenty of talent as well as the No. 5 team in the country. Freshmen Cliff Alexander and Kelly Oubre join quality returning players like Perry Ellis and Wayne Selden, each of them looking to prove they can be stars for this team.

People seem to be expecting greatness from Kentucky this season, but this could be a great chance to slow down the hype.

SMU vs. Gonzaga

DALLAS, TX - NOVEMBER 8:  Nic Moore #11 of the SMU Mustangs brings the ball upcourt against the TCU Horned Frogs during the Tip-Off Showcase on November 8, 2013 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
Cooper Neill/Getty Images

While these teams might not have the championship banners in the rafters, this should still be an excellent game between two of the more talented squads around. ESPN's Fran Fraschilla has high hopes for the upcoming battle:

Fran Fraschilla @franfraschilla

Don't worry about SMU missing Markus Kennedy. Monday's Tipoff Marathon game between SMU & Gonzaga, one of best non-conference games of year.

Gonzaga always seems to be considered one of the top teams in the nation during the regular season before losing early in the NCAA tournament. However, ESPN's Jeff Goodman believes this year can be different thanks to a strong backcourt:

Jeff Goodman @GoodmanESPN

Gonzaga has one of the best backcourts with Pangos and Bell. Both experienced. Few loves his young guards -- Josh Perkins and Silas Melson.

With Kentucky-transfer Kyle Wiltjer adding another dimension with his outside shooting, this is a team that can really put points on the board. 

On the other side of the court will be a team that has not been dancing in March since 1993, although Larry Brown's team might have had a legitimate beef with the committee last season. This year, the Mustangs intend to not leave it up to discussion with a strong returning squad led by point guard Nic Moore.

SMU has a lot of athleticism and is well-coached on the defensive end, two things that could cause problems for Gonzaga. The entire game will be a chess match and it will come down to a few key plays late.

No matter who wins, though, this will be a matchup to remember when comparing teams later in the year.

Utah vs. San Diego State

SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 8:  Winston Shepard #13 of the San Diego State Aztecs dribbles the ball and is fouled in the second half of the game by Mike Anderson #11 of the Washington Huskies at the Viejas Arena on December 8, 2013 in San Diego, California.
Kent Horner/Getty Images

You might've expected Duke vs. Michigan State to crack this list, but you will get plenty of chances to see both teams play throughout the year. Besides, coaches Mike Krzyzewski and Tom Izzo will ensure that each side is much better in March than it is now, making this battle almost meaningless.

Instead, college basketball fans should take an opportunity to watch two West Coast teams playing much earlier than normal (4 p.m. ET).

San Diego State lost its best player from last year in Xavier Thames, but Winston Shepard is ready to take over and lead the Mountain West team back to the NCAA tournament. In fact, the junior has even higher expectations than that:

GoAztecs @GoAztecs

Our goal as a team is the Final Four. - Winston Shepard #AztecMBB

The Aztecs ranked ninth in the nation in defensive efficiency last season, according to KenPom.com, and have the tools to be right back up there again this year. While the goal of a Final Four seems ridiculous now, it is not too out of line for one of the best mid-majors in the nation.

Still, this team will have a tough early test in Utah, considered by many to be one of the better teams in the Pac-12 this season. The Utes return most of their keys players from last season, including the versatile Delon Wright.

Adding freshman Jakob Poeltl to a group that also includes Jordan Loveridge and Brandon Taylor, Utah has a chance to get back into the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2009. A road win over San Diego State would certainly help the cause.

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