Monday’s slate and what to watch

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It’s not March. It just feels that way with all the solid college basketball games this week. Both the ACC/Big Ten Challenge and the Big East/SEC Invitational are this week and Saturday’s a biggie, capped by new No. 1 Kentucky vs. North Carolina.

Yes, I’m downright giddy.

Xavier at Vanderbilt, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
The night’s best game loses a little luster without Festus Ezeli, who won’t play with the Commodores until mid-December at the earliest. Still, Vandy has plenty of talent and is always a tough foe on its homecourt. That should be enough to push the unbeaten Musketeers, who beat Georgia last week, but didn’t throttle the Dawgs the way coach Chris Mack would’ve liked. This one’s a coin flip.

Long Beach State at Louisville, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
If the Cardinals ever get healthy – forward Stephen Van Treese is the latest to get dinged up – they’ll be a Final Four contender. Until then, they’ll be in danger of being upset by teams like the 49ers, who’ve already beaten one Big East team this season in Pitt. But … they followed up that win with losses at San Diego State and Montana, hardly the kind of stuff that’ll scare Louisville. At least until someone tries to stay in front of Casper Ware.

Tennessee at Oakland, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
The Grizzlies won in Knoxville last season. Surely they can hold court against a rebuilding Volunteers team, right? Maybe not. Tennessee acquitted itself well in the Maui Invitational, giving Duke a game and losing to Memphis in double OT.

Pepperdine at UCLA, 11 p.m. (Primeticket)
This one’s important for the train-wreck factor. The Bruins (1-4) have yet to beat a D-I team and Reeves Nelson is still in Ben Howland’s doghouse. They should beat Pepperdine, but they also should be 2-2. At least.

(All times ET; TV info from HDSportsGuide.com)

EAST
Swarthmore at Columbia, 7 p.m.
IUPUI at Georgetown, 7 p.m.
LIU at Iona, 7 p.m.
Quinnipiac at Lehigh, 7 p.m.
Niagara at St. Francis (Pa.), 7 p.m.
Akron at West Virginia, 7 p.m.
UMBC at Rutgers, 7:30 p.m.

SOUTH
Stetson at Florida, 7 p.m.
Long Beach St. at Louisville, 7 p.m.
NC A&T at UNC Greensboro, 7 p.m.
Xavier at Vanderbilt, 7 p.m.
Austin Peay at Lipscomb, 7:30 p.m.
Louisiana-Monroe at Nicholls St., 7:30 p.m.
Ark.-Pine Bluff at Auburn, 8 p.m.
Trevecca Nazarene at Belmont, 8 p.m.
Jackson St. at Memphis, 8 p.m.

MIDWEST
Louisiana-Lafayette at Kent St., 7 p.m.
Jacksonville at Marquette, 8 p.m.
Tabor at South Dakota, 8:30 p.m.
Tennessee at Oakland, 9 p.m.

SOUTHWEST
Texas-Pan American at Texas-Arlington, 8 p.m.

FAR WEST
Georgia at Colorado, 8:30 p.m.
N. Illinois at Utah Valley, 9:05 p.m.
Seattle at Evergreen St., 10 p.m.
Montana St. at San Jose St., 10 p.m.
Pacific at Stanford, 10 p.m.
McNeese St. at California, 10:30 p.m.
Pepperdine at UCLA, 11 p.m.

TOURNAMENTS
Shamrock Office Solutions Classic
At Moraga, Calif.
Third Place, 8 p.m.
Championship, 10:30 p.m.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.