2016 Day 1 College Basketball Preview

Each year, I do the world's earliest college football preview, wherein I take a look at the Week 1 games as soon as they are compiled (which happens early in the calendar year) on mattsarzsports.com.

Matt Sarzyniak, who runs the site, does the same for college basketball, but it takes much longer for a full television picture to come out. Therefore, a super-early preview isn't really possible. But now that we are just two and a half weeks from the season, let's take a look at some opening night games.

That opening night would be Friday, November 11th, when most of Division I plays their first game. The Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, or whatever it's called now, used to play a few games prior to that opening Friday, but no more.

Arizona vs. Michigan State from Honolulu, 7 PM, ESPN

This is Game 1 of the Armed Forces Classic, but I'm happy to report it's not taking place on an aircraft carrier, which has proven to be problematic. Instead, it's taking place at the Stan Sheriff Center, where the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors play their home games.

Both teams will come into the matchup with something to prove. Arizona quietly has not made a Final Four in 15 years, when Lute Olsen was still coaching them. Michigan State, you might recall, won the Big Ten tournament last year and then got bounced by 15-seed Middle Tennessee in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Indiana vs. Kansas from Honolulu, 9:30 PM, ESPN

The nightcap of the Armed Forces Classic. Indiana is another school trying to reclaim old glories, and took a huge step towards that in winning the Big Ten regular season title last year. They've lost a lot of talent from last year, so if they can knock off Kansas, I think we can put Bobby Knight out of our minds for good.

Vanderbilt vs. Marquette at Annapolis, 7:00 PM, CBS Sports Network

The Armed Forces Classic isn't the only military-themed college basketball showcase. Navy is also hosting a doubleheader, as they do every year, and it always includes decent Power Five (if I can I co-opt that term for basketball) teams. After a nice run from 2007-2012, Vanderbilt returned — barely — to the NCAAs last year, while Marquette was passed over. They still won 20 games, so presumably they turned down bids to lesser-light postseason tournaments.

Ohio State at Navy, 9:30 PM, CBS Sports Network

Last year, Ohio State's season was derailed early with a 4-game losing streak that included losses to Texas-Arlington, Louisiana Tech, and Memphis. Navy was 9-9 in the Patriot League and if they can take advantage of home cooking and upset the Buckeyes, look for Ohio State to miss the NCAAs again.

North Carolina at Tulane, 9:00 PM, ESPNU

This game will be on the New Orleans Pelicans home floor, as Tulane tries to drum up support for its basketball team, and UNC has graciously agreed to play along. Tulane hasn't made the NCAAs in over 20 years, and coming off a basement finish in the AAC last year, I'm not convinced that will change this year.

Harvard vs. Stanford in Shanghai, 11:00 PM, ESPN2

Harvard made the NCAAs four straight years from 2012-2015, but last year fell hard, going 6-8 in Ivy League play. Stanford has made the big dance only once since 2008. This is a matchup that leaves me wondering if several other schools turned down the invitation.

Georgia at Clemson, 7:00 PM, ACC Network (regional networks)

Another one of the few Power Five matchups on opening night as the two schools try to parlay a big college football matchup into some basketball excitement. Georgia has had three straight winning records in SEC play and made the big dance in 2015. It's a tougher road to hoe for Clemson, being in the ACC and all, and they are looking to get back into the tourney for the first time since 2011. A win here would be a great start; Clemson usually has a weak non-conference slate and while this year's schedule looks better than usual, this would be a pretty big W, even with that.

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