Thursday, June 29, 2017
World’s Earliest 2017 College Hoops Preview
In football, I annually break down week one earlier than anyone else, to the best of my knowledge. This is possible thanks to mattsarzsports, who for years has maintained my favorite and most frequently used college sports resource.
He maintains a college basketball TV schedule every year, too, but it's not as comprehensively done as college football, because that would be impossible and/or take all day. There are three times as many D1 college basketball programs as there are FBS college football programs, they schedule a dozen or more non-conference games as opposed to 3 or 4 (sometimes not completing their schedules 'til the 11th hour), and games happen every day of the week. That he's still as close as comprehensive as he is is no small feat.
It got me thinking I ought to do for college hoops what I've been doing for college football, except just for the first day of action that counts (Friday, November 10th). Mattsarz.com has started a TV schedule for next year already, but for this job, I'm going to need to bring in a second resource, the Google spreadsheet maintained by "The D1 Docket." Onto the (notable) games. Almost none of have posted tipoff times yet.
Memphis vs. Alabama in Annapolis
For the last few years, Navy has been hosting a little college basketball showcase the first Friday of the season, with a a game pitting two major conference schools against each other in the opener and Navy against another big school in the nightcap. As in past years, the doubleheader will feature on CBS Sports Network.
Alabama rarely embarrasses itself in basketball, but nor has it made the big step up to the likes of Kentucky or Florida to get out of the football team's shadow. Nor have they made a Final Four appearance in their program's history. They'll have a chance to really make a statement against a favored Memphis squad here. Navy gets Pittsburgh in game two.
West Virginia vs. Texas A&M in Ramstein Air Base, Germany
This will be on ESPN and I really have to wonder how Texas A&M is getting all these peachy high-profile games this year. There's this one, and they also draw Kansas in the SEC/Big 12 challenge this year. Why wouldn't you just have Kansas play Kentucky every year, with the occasional game against Florida, until another SEC team asserts itself? A&M has made the tourney once in the last six seasons.
Northern Iowa at North Carolina
I appreciate how UNC goes about scheduling. They are not giving themselves the same kind of gimme for their opening game that other power conference teams do. You already know UNI is tough, and last year they opened on the road against an AAC opponent. Yes, it was Tulane, but that allowed the Green Wave to play a home game at the Pelicans' arena, so that was nice of the Heels.
UCLA vs. Georgia Tech in Shanghai
An opening day game in Shanghai is also becoming a tradition. This is a step up from last year, when it was Stanford vs. Harvard. Is this that one year in 10 when Georgia Tech is elite? They did make it to the NIT Championship Game last year, Ben Lammers will be back in the paint, and they landed four-star recruit Jose Alvarado from legendary Christ the King High School in New York.
Beltmon at Washington
Upset alert? Belmont has made the NCAAs or the NIT seven years in a row and UW loses Markelle Fultz. They weren't that great with him.
Elon at Duke
It seems like they play every year, and I am shocked to find that Duke is 19-5 all-time against Elon. Elon has beaten Duke five times? Really? I know Duke wasn't a basketball power before Mike Krzyzewski, but dang.
This year's game is notable because a) Elon only lost by a respectable 11-point margin last year, and b) this was the game where Grayson Allen tripped yet another player and got suspended by Coach K. Las Vegas seriously needs a "will Grayson Allen trip a player?" prop bet for this game.
Utah Valley at Kentucky
Notable because the next day, UVU then travels to Duke. They are adroitly marketing these two games as "the toughest 24 hours in college basketball," hashtag and all.