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Breaking down this year’s awesome College Gameday schedule

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ESPN released their schedule for College Gameday during the 2013-2014 season, and man, do we have some good matchups to look forward to.

It kicks off with a double-header, a trip to the Palestra in the morning to see Temple take on La Salle which is followed by a trip up I-95 to Storrs, where the crew will take in the defending champs Louisville making their final visit to UConn as a league foe.

That’s a helluva way to kick off the year, and it only gets better from there.

Here is the full schedule:

  • Jan. 18: Temple vs. La Salle (The Palestra) and Louisville at UConn
  • Jan. 25: Michigan at Michigan State
  • Feb. 1: Duke at Syracuse
  • Feb. 8: Gonzaga at Memphis
  • Feb. 15: Florida at Kentucky
  • Feb. 22: Either Arizona at Colorado OR UCLA at Stanford
  • March 1: Kansas at Oklahoma State
  • March 8: North Carolina at Duke

Where do we begin?

Michigan and Michigan State has always been a heated rivalry, but with the Wolverines’ resurgence under John Beilein the past couple of years, it has finally returned to relevancy on a national stage. It should be fun to see the two best teams in the Big Ten squaring off on the sport’s biggest stage.

Duke’s visit to Syracuse was already going to be special, as the Orange are considering moving the court into the middle of the Carrier Dome. It will be a logistical nightmare, but with the College Gameday crew in town, I would expect the school to make the change. That will only add to the intrigue of the Blue Devils’ first visit to Upstate New York as an ACC rival. Oh, don’t be surprised to see these two battling it out for the ACC title by the end of the year. That will become a trend.

Memphis has the talent to be a top ten team this season and always has a raucous home court, while Gonzaga is, well, Gonzaga. This should be a good, late-season test for the Zags, who failed to make the Sweet 16 as a No. 1 seed last season.

Florida’s visit to Rupp is always destined to be a thriller. Kentucky is bringing in one of the most talented recruiting classes of all-time, but Florida has enough front court talent to matchup with the Wildcats. The Gators are good enough to challenge the Wildcats for an SEC title.

The Pac-12’s Gameday game will either be Arizona visiting Colorado or UCLA’s trip to Palo Alto to take on Stanford. Personally, I’m hoping for the former, as Arizona is a top ten team while Colorado may actually be the second best team in the league.

As good as the Gameday schedule will be up to this point, I think Kansas visiting Stillwater may actually be the game that I’m the most excited for. Everyone knows that when Oklahoma State is good, Gallagher-Iba Arena is one of the best home courts in the country, and thanks to Marcus Smart’s decision to return to school, the Pokes are a borderline top ten team. But with Andrew Wiggins committing to Kansas, the Jayhawks instantly became a national title contender and, as usual, the favorite to win the Big 12. There are a bazillion different storylines heading into this game. I’m pumped already.

The Gameday finale will pit Duke and North Carolina at Cameron. If PJ Hairston is allowed to play this season — and, at this point, I don’t see him getting blackballed by the NCAA — than this game could end up determining the ACC regular season title. Duke is probably the favorite to win the league, but Syracuse and UNC (with Hairston) aren’t all that far behind.

Here’s the bad news: the season doesn’t start for another three months, and it will be two more months before any of these games take place.

I sure could use a time machine right about now.

BUBBLE BANTER: All of the action on the fringe of the NCAA tournament

Fred VanVleet
(AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
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Tonight’s bubble action. This post will be updated as the games are completed.

Cincinnati at UCF, 7:00 p.m.
Pitt at No. 12 Miami, 7:00 p.m.
No. 25 Wichita State at Drake, 8:00 p.m.
Ole Miss at Florida, 9:00 p.m.
Georgia at No. 22 Kentucky, 9:00 p.m.
Arkansas at Mississippi State, 9:00 p.m.

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: A Big 12 and a Big Ten showdown

Denzel Valentine
(AP Photo/Al Goldis)
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GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 10 West Virginia at No. 6 Kansas, 7:00 p.m.

The last time these two teams got together, West Virginia actually knocked off Kansas in Morgantown. It was the third time in the last three seasons that WVU has beaten KU at home. So there’s some revenge at stake here. But there’s also the whole Big 12 title race, which West Virginia currently leads. If the Mountaineers win tonight, they’ll be up by two games on Kansas with the tie breaker and just seven games left to play. The Jayhawks regular season title streak could be over if that happens.

THIS ONE’S GOOD, TOO: No. 8 Michigan State at No. 18 Purdue, 7:00 p.m.

We think the Spartans are back to their early season form after wins over Maryland (at home), Northwestern, Rutgers and Michigan. If Michigan State really wants to prove something to the college basketball world, they will go into West Lafayette tonight and get a win. Denzel Valentine vs. Raphael Davis will be fun.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR

  1. Pitt will pay a visit to No. 12 Miami in a game the Panthers could really use a win in. Pitt hasn’t been the most consistent team in the country and without adding a few quality wins they could be looking at the bubble.
  2. Duquesne will be paying a visit to No. 19 Dayton, who moved into a tie for first place in the Atlantic 10 thanks to VCU’s loss on Saturday.
  3. Georgia is right there on the bubble, and they will have a chance to try and push themselves into a better spot when they play at No. 22 Kentucky tonight.
  4. Creighton probably has to win out to have a shot of making the NCAA tournament, and that includes tonight, when they host No. 5 Xavier.
  5. No. 7 Virginia will be hosting Virginia Tech, who picked off the Wahoos in Blacksburg earlier this year.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • No. 1 Villanova at DePaul, 8:30 p.m.
  • No. 25 Wichita State at Drake, 8:00 p.m.