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|
|7 p.m.||Baylor vs. Kentucky (women)||ESPN2|
|7 p.m.||Miami at Florida||ESPNU|
|9 p.m.||Connecticut at Stanford (women)||ESPN2|
|11 p.m.||SMU at Gonzaga||ESPN2|
|11 p.m.||Detroit at Oregon||ESPNU|
|Tuesday Nov. 18|
|1 a.m.||Auburn at Colorado||ESPN2|
|3 a.m.||New Mexico State at Saint Mary's||ESPN2|
|5 a.m.||High Point at Hawaii||ESPN2|
|7 a.m.||Iona at Wofford||ESPN2|
|9 a.m.||Northern Iowa at Stephen F. Austin||ESPN2|
|11 a.m.||Manhattan at UMass||ESPN2|
|12 p.m.||Baylor at South Carolina||ESPN|
|2 p.m.||Wichita State vs. Memphis||ESPN|
|4 p.m.||Utah at San Diego State||ESPN|
|6 p.m.||Toledo at VCU||ESPNU|
|7 p.m.||Michigan State vs. Duke||ESPN|
|7:30 p.m.||Marquette at Ohio State||ESPN2|
|9:30 p.m.||Kansas vs. Kentucky||ESPN|
|9:30 p.m.||Texas Tech at LSU||ESPN2|
Top Matchups to Watch
Kentucky vs. Kansas
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:
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
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:
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:
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
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:
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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