UCLA v Arizona State

Top 25 Countdown: Others Receiving Votes

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All month long, CBT will be rolling out our 2013-2014 season preview. Check back throughout the day, as we’ll be posting three or four preview items every day.

To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. The rest of our Top 25 Countdown can be found here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here.

Listed alphabetically.

Arizona State:

  • Last Season: 22-13, 9-9 Pac-12 (t-6th); Lost in NIT 2nd round
  • Key Losses: Carrick Felix, Evan Gordon, Chris Colvin
  • Key Returnees: Jahii Carson (18.5 ppg, 5.1 apg, 3.7 rpg), Jordan Bachynski (9.8 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 3.4 bpg), Jonathan Gilling (9.7 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 2.8 apg)
  • Key Newcomers: Jermaine Marshall, Egor Koulechov, Chance Murray, Shaquielle McKissic, Sai Tummala
  • Outlook: The big news for Herb Sendek’s club this offseason: Jahii Carson returned to school. Arguably the most exciting player in the country, Carson is the engine that makes the Sun Devils go. He’s an all-american candidate. Adding Penn State transfer Jermaine Marshall should help offset some of the perimeter punch that was lost with Carrick Felix and Evan Gordon departing, and Jordan Bachynski’s return provides a defensive menace around the rim. Missing the NCAA tournament (again) would be a major disappointment.

Baylor:

  • Last Season: 23-14, 9-9 Big 12 (6th); Won the NIT
  • Key Losses: Pierre Jackson, AJ Walton, Deuce Bello, LJ Rose
  • Key Returnees: Isaiah Austin (13.0 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 1.7 bpg), Cory Jefferson (13.3 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 1.9 bpg), Brady Heslip (8.6 ppg, 38.6% 3PT)
  • Key Newcomers: Kenny Chery, Ishmail Wainwright, Allerik Freeman, Johnathan Motley, Royce O’Neale*
  • Outlook: The good news is that the Bears have one of the best front lines in the country, as Isaiah Austin and Cory Jefferson are as long and athletic as any duo in the country. They averaged a combined 26.3 points, 16.3 boards and 3.6 blocks last season. The issue, however, is that a lot of that scoring came off the creativity of now-graduate Pierre Jackson. Can JuCo transfer Kenny Chery fill that role? Scoring guard Allerik Freeman and versatile wing Ishmael Wainwright can contribute as well. One interesting storyline will be Denver transfer Royce O’Neale’s pending eligibility.

Boise State:

  • Last Season: 21-11, 9-7 MWC (t-4th); Lost in the NCAA First Four
  • Key Losses: Kenny Buckner
  • Key Returnees: Anthony Drmic (17.7 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 39.2% 3PT), Derrick Marks (16.3 ppg, 3.9 apg, 42.3% 3PT), Jeff Elorriaga (10.3 ppg, 44.7% 3PT), Ryan Watkins (8.4 ppg, 6.8 rpg)
  • Key Newcomers: Darnell Taylor, Dezmyn Trent, James Webb
  • Outlook: The Broncos were supposed to be “a year away” last season, and yet they managed to put together a campaign strong enough to earn a trip to the NCAA tournament. This year, Leon Rice’s club will have one of the best perimeter attacks out west. Derrick Marks is one of the most explosive scorers in the country, and he’s the team’s second-leading returning scorer, trailing Anthony Drmic. Jeff Elorriaga is almost automatic from three when he gets his feet set, and Mikey Thompson and Igor Hadziomerovic provide a nice pop off the bench. The key? Finding some help for Ryan Watkins in the paint.

Cal:

  • Last Season: 21-12, 12-6 Pac-12 (t-2nd); Lost in the NCAA Round of 32
  • Key Losses: Allen Crabbe
  • Key Returnees: Justin Cobbs (15.1 ppg, 4.8 apg, 3.5 rpg), Ty Wallace (7.2 ppg, 4.4 rpg), Richard Solomon (8.9 ppg, 6.8 rpg)
  • Key Newcomers: Jabari Bird, Jordan Matthews, Kameron Rooks, Sam Singer, Roger Moute a Bidas
  • Outlook: Cal loses a lot with Allen Crabbe headed to the pros, but Justin Cobbs should anchor a perimeter attack that will rival any in the Pac-12. Ty Wallace is in line for a breakout sophomore season, Ricky Kreklow is finally healthy and Jabari Bird and Jordan Matthews anchor a solid incoming class. The key will be in the front court. Can Richard Solomon find a way to maximize his talent? Can David Kravish make the jump to the next level? Cal is a tournament team that is a sleeper to make a run at the Pac-12 title.
source:
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Creighton:

  • Last Season: 28-8, 13-5 MVC (1st); Lost in the NCAA Round of 32
  • Key Losses: Gregory Echenique
  • Key Returnees: Doug McDermott (23.2 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 49.0% 3PT), Grant Gibbs (8.5 ppg, 5.8 apg, 4.1 rpg), Ethan Wragge (7.7 ppg, 44.6% 3PT)
  • Key Newcomers: Zach Hanson, Darian Harris, Toby Hegner, James Milliken, Devin Brooks
  • Outlook: The big news for Creighton is that they got their two-time first-team All-American, Doug McDermott, back for their inaugural season in the Big East. The better news was that playmaker Grant Gibbs was granted a sixth season of eligibility, anchoring a back court that has played together for a couple of years. Losing Gregory Echenique will hurt, however, as he had the kind of size and strength to battle with anyone in the post. The Bluejays need an interior presence. Who steps up?

Harvard:

  • Last Season: 20-10, 11-3 Ivy (1st); Lost in the NCAA Round of 32
  • Key Losses: Christian Webster
  • Key Returnees: Wesley Saunders (16.2 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 3.5 apg), Siyani Chambers (12.4 ppg, 5.7 apg), Laurent Rivard (10.4 ppg), Kyle Casey (11.4 ppg, 5.5 rpg in ’11-’12), Brandyn Curry (7.9 ppg, 4.9 apg in ’11-’12)
  • Key Newcomers: Zena Edosomwan, Hunter Myers, Matt Fraschilla
  • Outlook: The Crimson will be as talented as any Ivy League team in the history of the conference. They lose one player from a team that won the conference outright and knocked off New Mexico in the Round of 64 while adding a top 100 big man in Zena Edosomwan. and bringing back two all-Ivy caliber seniors in Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry. Siyani Chambers was one of the most under-appreciated point guards in the country, and Wesley Saunders is a stud. Keep an eye on this group.

Iowa:

  • Last Season: 25-13, 9-9 Big Ten (5th); Lost in the NIT title game
  • Key Losses: Eric May
  • Key Returnees: Roy Devyn Marble (15.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 3.0 apg), Aaron White (12.8 ppg, 6.2 rpg), Mike Gesell (8.7 ppg, 2.6 apg),
  • Key Newcomers: Jarrod Uthoff, Peter Jok
  • Outlook: This is the year for Fran McCaffery’s club. The Big Ten is a bit down compared to where it was a season ago, and the Hawkeyes have a nice blend of talent, youth and experience. Roy Devyn Marble and Aaron White provide a solid core while sophomores Mike Gesell and Adam Woodbury should take the next step this season. Keep an eye on Wisconsin transfer Jarrod Uthoff, who has sat out the last two seasons as a redshirt and a transfer. Expect Iowa to pull off a couple big wins at home and to get into the NCAA tournament.

La Salle:

  • Last Season: 24-10, 11-5 Atlantic 10 (t-3rd); Lost in the Sweet 16
  • Key Losses: Ramon Galloway
  • Key Returnees: Tyreek Duren (14.2 ppg, 3.3 apg), Tyrone Garland (13.1 ppg, 2.0 apg), Jerell Wright (10.8 ppg, 6.7 rpg)
  • Key Newcomers: Tony Washington, Amar Stukes, Khalid Lewis
  • Outlook: Losing Ramon Galloway hurts, here’s no way around that fact, but Dr. John Giannini still has enough talent that a return to the NCAA tournament isn’t out of the question. Tyreek Duren has spent his career being underappreciated, while Tyrone “Southwest Philly Floater” Garland should see a bump in production with more shots and minutes available. Sam Mills and Jerell Wright also return, and keep an eye on Delaware transfer Khalid Lewis in the back court.

LSU:

  • Last Season: 19-12, 9-9 SEC (t-8th)
  • Key Losses: Charles Carmouche
  • Key Returnees: Johnny O’Bryant III (13.6 ppg, 8.7 rpg), Anthony Hickey (11.2 ppg, 3.8 apg, 2.9 spg), Shavon Coleman (10.5 ppg, 5.9 rpg), Andre Stringer (10.4 ppg)
  • Key Newcomers: Jarell Martin, Jordan Mickey, Tim Quarterman, John Odo, Brian Bridgewater, Darcy Malone
  • Outlook: Is this the year that the Tigers finally make that return trip to the NCAA tournament? They lose one player off of a team that won 19 games while bringing in a loaded recruiting class. Johnny O’Bryant should anchor a young-but-talented front line, while Anthony Hickey is once again back to terrorize opposing point guards. Quality depth — are freshman Jarell Martin, Jordan Mickey and Tim Quarterman ready to contribute immediately? — could determine the Tiger’s tournament chances.

Maryland:

  • Last Season: 25-13, 8-10 ACC (t-3rd); Lost in the NIT semifinals
  • Key Losses: Alex Len, Logan Aronhalt, Pe’Shon Howard
  • Key Returnees: Dez Wells (13.1 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 3.0 apg), Nick Faust (9.4 ppg, 3.7 rpg), Seth Allen (7.8 ppg, 2.3 apg)
  • Key Newcomers: Damonte Dodd, Roddy Peters, Evan Smotrycz
  • Outlook: Losing Alex Len to the NBA took Maryland out of any real contention for a run at an ACC title in their final season in the league, but there are enough pieces here for Mark Turgeon to get his group into the NCAA tournament. The Terps will have plenty of perimeter options with Dez Wells, Nick Faust and Seth Allen returning, and with Roddy Peters joining the mix, Maryland might actually have a real point guard on the roster. Evan Smotrycz and Jake Layman will spread the floor with Shaq Cleare and Charles Mitchell taking up space inside.

Missouri:

  • Last Season: 23-11, 11-7 SEC (t-5th); Lost in the NCAA Round of 64
  • Key Losses: Laurence Bowers, Phil Pressey, Alex Oriakhi, Keion Bell
  • Key Returnees: Jabari Brown (13.7 ppg, 3.4 rpg), Earnest Ross (10.3 ppg, 5.1 rpg)
  • Key Newcomers: Jordan Clarkson, Wes Clark, Johnathan Williams III, Shane Rector, Torren Jones, Keanau Post
  • Outlook: The Tigers lose quite a bit off of last year’s team, but there is reason to be hopeful in Columbia. Jabari Brown and Earnest Ross both return, and Frank Haith landed a talented recruiting class, headlined by Johnathan Williams III and Wes Clark. But the guy to watch will be Tulsa transfer Jordan Clarkson. The Tigers think he is the real deal, a talent that could make the all-SEC first team. Youth at the point and in the paint is a tough thing to overcome, but that trio on the wing could be enough to earn a tournament berth in a weak SEC.
source:
AP/Getty Images

Oregon:

  • Last Season: 28-9, 12-6 Pac-12 (t-2nd); Lost in the Sweet 16
  • Key Losses: EJ Singler, Tony Woods, Arsalan Kazemi, Carlos Emory
  • Key Returnees: Dominic Artis (8.5 ppg, 3.2 apg), Damyean Dotson (11.4 ppg, 3.5 rpg), Ben Carter (2.4 ppg, 2.3 rpg)
  • Key Newcomers: Mike Moser, Jordan Bell, Jason Calliste, Elgin Cook, AJ Lapray, Richard Amardi, Joseph Young*
  • Outlook: Dana Altman has become a master of the transfer market, this year landing Mike Moser and Jason Calliste as graduate transfers eligible immediately to bolster his roster. If Houston transfer Joseph Young gets a waiver from the NCAA as well, the Ducks will have one potent perimeter attack, as Dominic Artis and Damyean Dotson return as well. But who steps up in the front court to replace Arsalan Kazemi and Carlos Emory? Waverly Austin, Ben Carter and Richard Amardi should all get a shot at major minutes.

Saint Louis:

  • Last Season: 28-7, 13-3 Atlantic 10 (1st); Lost in the Round of 32
  • Key Losses: Kwamain Mitchell, Cody Ellis, Cody Remekun
  • Key Returnees: Dwayne Evans (14.0 ppg, 7.7 rpg), Mike McCall Jr (9.3 ppg, 40.2% 3PT), Jordair Jett (9.0 ppg, 3.2 apg)
  • Key Newcomers: Tanner Lancona, Mike Crawford, Reggie Agbeko
  • Outlook: The Billikens will be an interesting group to watch in the Atlantic 10 next season. They lost some talent with Kwamain Mitchell and Cody Ellis graduating, but Dwayne Evans could end up winning Atlantic 10 Player of the Year, Jordair Jett is one of the league’s more underrated players and the Billikens run a system where parts can be replaceable. They may not be getting a top four seed this year, but a trip to the tournament should be expected.

San Diego State:

  • Last Season: 23-11, 9-7 MWC (t-4th); Lost in the Round of 32
  • Key Losses: Jamaal Franklin, Chase Tapley, James Rahon
  • Key Returnees: Xavier Thames (9.5 ppg, 2.4 apg), JJ O’Brien (7.2 ppg, 4.5 rpg), Winston Shepard (5.7 ppg, 3.5 rpg)
  • Key Newcomers: Josh Davis, Dakarai Allen, D’Erryl Williams
  • Outlook: The Aztecs are in for a bit of a rebuilding season, as they lost their most talented player (Jamaal Franklin) and their most important player (Chase Tapley). Bringing in Josh Davis from Tulane should help them sustain the blow, but it will be the development of Winston Shepard as a sophomore and the impact of Dakarai Allen as a freshman that will determine if SDSU can be more than just a “tournament team”.

St. John’s:

  • Last Season: 17-16, 8-10 Big East (11th); Lost in the NIT’s 2nd Round
  • Key Losses: Amir Garrett
  • Key Returnees: D’Angelo Harrison (17.8 ppg, 4.3 rpg), Phil Greene (10.1 ppg, 2.7 apg), JaKarr Sampson (14.9 ppg, 6.6 rpg), Chris Obekpa (6.2 rpg, 4.0 bpg)
  • Key Newcomers: Rysheed Jordan, Orlando Sanchez, Max Hooper
  • Outlook: The Johnnies will be the most intriguing team in the Big East next season. They are deep, they are talented, they have athletes up and down their roster. JaKarr Sampson might end up being a lottery pick. D’Angelo Harrison and Rysheed Jordan will be one of the most dynamic back courts in the country. Chris Obepka defends the rim like he’s got skis for arms. Will they put all the pieces together? Can Steve Lavin coach a winning team? He’ll have every chance this season.

Stanford:

  • Last Season: 19-15, 9-9 Pac-12 (t-6th); Lost in the NIT’s 2nd Round
  • Key Losses: Andy Brown
  • Key Returnees: Dwight Powell (14.9 ppg, 8.4 rpg), Chasson Randle (13.6 ppg, 2.6 apg), Josh Huestis (10.5 ppg, 9.0 rpg), Aaron Bright (9.3 ppg, 3.4 apg)
  • Key Newcomers: Malcolm Allen, Marcus Allen, Schuyler Rimmer
  • Outlook: This may be a make-or-break season for Johnny Dawkins. For the third straight season, he’ll have his core of Dwight Powell, Chasson Randle, Josh Huestis and Aaron Bright intact, but does that mean that he’ll end up playing in the NIT for the third straight season?

UNLV:

  • Last Season: 25-10, 10-6 Mountain West (3rd); Lost in the Round of 64
  • Key Losses: Anthony Bennett, Anthony Marshall, Katin Reinhardt, Mike Moser, Justin Hawkins, Quintrell Thomas
  • Key Returnees: Bryce Dejean-Jones (10.3 ppg, 2.3 apg), Khem Birch (7.2 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 2.6 bpg)
  • Key Newcomers: Roscoe Smith, Jelan Kendrick, Deville Smith, Jamal Aytes, Christian Wood, Kendall Smith, Kevin Olekaibe
  • Outlook: The Runnin’ Rebels will undergo a major roster overhaul this season. Bryce Dejean-Jones and Khem Birch are the only returnees, but Dave Rice replaces the six rotation players he lost with a loaded class of recruits and transfers. How they come together, however, will be interesting to watch. Roscoe Smith was a top 30 recruit but left UConn. Jelan Kendrick is a McDonald’s all-american that flamed out of two schools in a year and a half. Deville Smith transferred from Mississippi State after one season. Rice has been able to amass talent out in Vegas. Can he finally get them to come together?

Virginia:

  • Last Season: 23-12, 11-7 ACC (t-4th); Lost in the NIT quarterfinals
  • Key Losses: Jontel Evans, Paul Jesperson
  • Key Returnees: Joe Harris (16.3 ppg, 4.0 rpg), Akil Mitchell (13.1 ppg, 8.5 rpg), Mike Tobey (6.8 ppg, 2.9 rpg), Justin Anderson (7.6 ppg)
  • Key Newcomers: London Perrantes, Devon Hall
  • Outlook: A couple of ugly losses early in the season cost the Cavs a chance at the NCAA tournament, but Tony Bennett brings the majority of his roster back from a team that was better than their postseason tournament would indicate. Joe Harris and Akil Mitchell might be the best 1-2 punch in the country you’ve never heard of. Mike Tobey is a trendy pick as a breakout star. Justin Anderson is the perfect wing for Bennett’s system. Replacing Jontel Evans’ leadership won’t be easy, but the Cavs are a sleeper ACC title pick.

PHOTO: Purdue unveils statue of John Wooden outside Mackey Arena

John Wooden (Purdue Athletics)
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John Wooden will forever be associated with the UCLA program for what he did while coaching there.

10 national titles in 12 years, including seven in a row. Not bad, right?

What some people may forget is that before he got into coaching, Wooden was one of the best basketball players in the world. He played his collegiate ball at Purdue, where he was a three-time all-american and the 1932 National Player of the Year.

To honor Wooden’s legacy as one of the greatest Boilermakers ever, Purdue built a statue of Wooden and unveiled it in front of Mackey Arena this weekend:

“Not many people think of Johnny Wooden as a Boilermaker, but when I got here in 1957, some of the old-timers still remembered him as a player,” Jim Hicks, the alumnus that donated the statue, said. “I’m so delighted that people will see this statue and read his Pyramid of Success because I think the pyramid was his most important contribution.”

One of the neat touches of the statue: Wooden’s Pyramid of Success is right there for all to see.

North Carolina lands third commitment in 2017 class

SAN ANTONIO, TX - MARCH 23: Head coach Roy Williams of the North Carolina Tar Heels looks on during the third round of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament against the Iowa State Cyclones at the AT&T Center on March 23, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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North Carolina picked up their third commitment in the Class of 2017 on Monday in big man Brandon Huffman.

A four-star prospect who will play his final season of high school ball at Word of God Academy in North Carolina, Huffman’s strength at this point in his development is as a defensive presence around the basket. He stands 6-foot-10 with a 7-foot-5 wingspan and should be able to help replace Kennedy Meeks, who graduates this spring.

Huffman’s development on the offensive end of the floor isn’t quite there yet. A native of Anchorage, Alaska, Huffman is still learning how to be more influential on that end.

Huffman joins Jalek Felton and Andrew Platek in UNC’s 2017 class.

VCU lands third commitment in Class of 2017

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VCU landed their third commitment in the Class of 2017 over the weekend, as 6-foot-8 forward Sean Mobley announced that he will play his college ball for the Rams.

A three-star prospect, Mobley is a nice program piece for the Rams. He’s not an overpowering athlete or a menace on the low block, but he is good rebounder, a guy that can space the floor with his jump shot and a smart player that should be able to find and fit into a role.

Mobley picked VCU over Dayton and West Virginia, joining top 75 point guard and big man Marcus Santos-Silva in Will Wade’s recruiting class.

Top 25 Non-Conference Games

LAWRENCE, KS - JANUARY 30:  Head coach John Calipari of the Kentucky Wildcats and head coach Bill Self of the Kansas Jayhawks greet each other prior to the game at Allen Fieldhouse on January 30, 2016 in Lawrence, Kansas.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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Beginning in September and running up until November 11th, the first day of the season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2016-2017 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package.

Non-conference scheduling has rightfully been much maligned in recent years with many programs opting to keep their non-league slates as a tune-up rather than a challenge, but there are still plenty of gems out there in the season’s first two months. Neutral-site event games again provide some of the strongest matchups, but there are plenty of on-campus contests that will be among the year’s best as well.

THE TOP 15

1. Kansas vs. Duke – Champions Classic (New York) – Nov. 15 (9 p.m.): The Champions Classic has easily become the most anticipated non-conference event most years (until the PK80 next year), and this year’s matchup between the Jayhawks and Blue Devils is the premier non-conference game of the season. Both teams return a ton from last year’s successful seasons and also add stellar recruiting classes. It’s not hard to envision this as a Final Four or national title preview, and there’s a very real chance that it could end up being a matchup between No. 1 Duke vs. No. 2 Kansas.

2. Michigan State at Duke – ACC/Big Ten Challenge – Nov. 29 (9:30 p.m.): This game gets the nod over similarly interesting matchups because it’s going to be played on campus in Durham at Cameron Indoor. It pits two Hall of Fame coaches operating near the height of their powers with teams expected to contend for a national championship. It’s sure to be an electric evening.

MORE: 2016-17 Season Preview Coverage | Conference Previews | Preview Schedule

3. Kentucky at Louisville – Dec. 21 (7 p.m.): John Calipari has another powerhouse on his hands while Rick Pitino’s squad is expected to continue its upward progression and be a potential top-10 team. This in-state rivalry game will have all the gravitas it normally has along with the national implications that come when two potential No. 1 seeds meet in the non-conference.

4. Kansas at Kentucky – Jan. 28 (6 p.m.): The SEC/Big 12 Challenge is largely irrelevant this season because the Big 12 is down and the SEC looks like a mid-major conference outside of Kentucky. But the Wildcats, who nearly beat Kansas in overtime in Phog Allen last season, and the Jayhawks are both preseason top five teams loaded with NBA talent and positioned to make a run towards another national title.

5. Michigan State vs. Kentucky – Champions Classic (New York) – Nov. 15 (7 p.m.): The other half of the Champions Classic, the Spartans and Wildcats will provide nearly just as much entertainment. The matchup between Michigan State’s super-recruit Miles Bridges and Kentucky’s squadron of them could be the highlight of the night.

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - DECEMBER 19: London Perrantes #32 of the Virginia Cavaliers dribbles the ball against Josh Hart #3 of the Villanova Wildcats in the first half during a game at John Paul Jones Arena on December 19, 2015 in Charlottesville, Virginia. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
UVA’s London Perrantes guarded by Villanova’s Josh Hart (Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

6. Virginia at Villanova – Jan. 28 – (1 p.m.): Virginia deserves credit as one of the elite programs that’s unafraid to challenge themselves with home-and-home series, but I can’t imagine that, when Tony Bennett signed up for this, he knew he’d be taking his team on the road, in the middle of ACC play, to square off with the reigning national champs. It will be an intriguing matchup of styles, both in terms of basketball and the suits worn by the opposing head coaches.

7. UCLA at Kentucky – Dec. 3 (12:30 p.m.): Two of the most storied programs in the sport, the Bruins and Wildcats both figure to have interesting seasons as Steve Alford looks to satiate uneasy UCLA fans and Calipari looks to add another national championship to his resume. UCLA freshman Lonzo Ball facing off against Kentucky’s backcourt in Rupp Arena will garner a lot of headlines. And we shouldn’t forget that the Bruins picks off Kentucky in LA last December.

8. North Carolina vs. Kentucky – Las Vegas – Dec. 17 (5:45 p.m.): UNC is coming off a season where they finished as the national runners-up. Losing Marcus Paige and Brice Johnson will hurt, no doubt, but there is still some talent on the roster. Kentucky, as we’ve mentioned, is once again loaded. Both teams will likely be ranked in the top-10 when they meet in Sin City in yet another clash of the sport’s heavyweights.

9. Michigan State vs. Arizona – Armed Forces Classic (Honolulu) – Nov. 11 (7 p.m.): Not a bad way to tip off the season with the Spartans and Wildcats squaring off in Hawaii on opening night. The game was originally to be played at Pearl Harbor, but was moved to the Stan Sheriff Center at the University of Hawaii. Arizona may have lost Terrence Ferguson to the pros, but it’ll have plenty of firepower to match up against Michigan State with Allonzo Trier, Lauri Markkanen and Rawle Atkins.

10. Louisville vs. Indiana – Indianapolis – Dec. 31 (12:30 p.m.): This border battle game will be played off-campus at the home of the Pacers, but with Indy’s close proximity to both schools and a pair of fervent fanbases, this one should have that big-time collegiate feel with two top-15 teams.

11. Kansas vs. Indiana – Armed Forces Classic (Honolulu) – Nov. 11 (9 p.m.): The nightcap of the Armed Forces Classic is another incredibly strong game that will pit the two midwestern powers against each other. Thomas Bryant and OG Anunoby will provide quite the test for Kansas’ revamped frontcourt while the Hoosiers will have to contend with one of the country’s strongest backcourts in Kansas’ Frank Mason III and Devonte Graham.

12. Wisconsin at Creighton – Gavitt Games – Nov. 15 (8:30 p.m.): The country knows how strong the Badgers will be this year after the transition to coach Greg Gard propelled them into the Sweet 16, but Creighton is flying a bit under the radar despite having some top-level talent in Mo Watson and Marcus Foster. The Blue Jays also have one of the more underrated home crowds in the game. This one will be a treat in the season’s opening week.

13. Arizona vs. Gonzaga – Naismith Memorial HOF Game (Los Angeles) – Dec. 3 (6:30 p.m.): Two West Coast powers face off in L.A. a month into the season with perhaps a seed line at stake. Gonzaga will likely open the season in the top-15 on the strength of getting senior center Przmek Karnowski back and the Nigel Williams-Goss eligible after transferring from Washington.

t-14. North Carolina at Indiana – ACC/Big Ten Challenge – Nov. 30 (9 p.m.)

t-14. Syracuse at Wisconsin – ACC/Big Ten Challenge – Nov. 29 (9 p.m.): The ACC/Big Ten Challenge provides two more top games with the Tar Heels visiting Bloomington and the Badgers hosting the Orange. The Bryant-Kennedy Meeks matchup will be one to watch, while NBA scouts and draftniks will be tuning in to this one to see how Tyler Lydon and Nigel Hayes matchup. The game itself will provide college hoops fans plenty with the Badgers being a Big Ten favorite and Syracuse bolstering its ranks with Nebraska graduate transfer Andrew White.

15. Washington at Gonzaga – Dec. 7 (11 p.m.): The Huskies aren’t a lock to make the NCAA tournament this year, but this game will still be a must-watch thanks to Gonzaga’s strength, Markelle Fultz’s talent and it being an in-state rivalry game played on campus. Don’t underestimate how much these two fanbases dislike each other.

MORE: 2016-17 Season Preview Coverage | Conference Previews | Preview Schedule

TEN MORE TIMES YOU’LL NEED TO SET YOUR DVR

16. UConn vs. Syracuse – New York City – Dec. 5 (7 p.m.): Madison Square Garden will play host to this former Big East rivalry game. This is the loudest you’ll hear the Garden all season long, and that includes the games that the Knicks play.
17. Valparaiso at Oregon – Nov. 17 (9 p.m.): Valpo might be the best mid-major in the country and has a potential All-American in Alec Peters. The Ducks may not have Dillon Brooks for this one, but will still likely be ranked in the top-10.
18. Indiana vs Butler – Crossroads Classic – Dec. 17 (5 p.m.): A Hoosier State rivalry game that’s sure to be closely contested.
19. Villanova vs. Notre Dame – Never Forget Games (Newark, N.J.) – 12 p.m.: The defending champs take on one of the ACC’s best.
20. Purdue at Louisville – ACC/Big Ten Challenge – Nov. 30: Another strong game courtesy of the cross-conference challenge.
21. Villanova at Purdue – Nov. 14 (7 p.m.): This game got more difficult for the ‘Cats without Omari Spellman to combat Caleb Swanigan and Isaac Haas.
22. Northern Iowa vs. Xavier – Nov. 16 (12 p.m.): A sneaky-strong game with Xavier being a team that figures to push Villanova in the Big East and the Panthers featuring potential MVC player of the year Jeremy Morgan.
23. Oregon at Baylor – Nov. 15 (3:30 p.m.): This will be the Ducks’ only true road game in the non-conference. Baylor’s Johnathan Motley figures to be a tough guard for the Pac-12 favorites.
24. Arizona vs. Texas A&M – Dec 17 (1 p.m.): The Aggies lost quite a bit from last year’s team, but will still be a top-25 contender.
25. Florida State at Florida – Dec. 11 (4 p.m.): The Seminoles will bring quite a bit of talent with them to Gainesville in Dwayne Bacon and Jonathan Isaac for this intrastate rivalry game.

DURHAM, NC - NOVEMBER 13: Grayson Allen #3 of the Duke Blue Devils dunks over Javion Ogunyemi #0 of the Siena Saints during their game at Cameron Indoor Stadium on November 13, 2015 in Durham, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Grayson Allen (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Vanderbilt lands commitment from top 100 big man

COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 20: Head coach Bryce Drew of the Valparaiso Crusaders directs his team during the second round of the Men's NCAA Basketball Tournament at Nationwide Arena on March 20, 2015 in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
Kirk Irwin/Getty Images
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Bryce Drew reached up into Virginia to land a commitment from Ejike Obinna this weekend.

Obinna is a top 100 big man originally from Nigeria. At 6-foot-9, he’s one of the better rebounders in the Class of 2017 and should have an immediate impact on the glass for the Commodores.

Drew beat out Florida, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, and Virginia Tech, among others, for Obinna’s commitment.

Obinna joins wings Saben Lee and Maxwell Evans in Vandy’s 2017 class.