GAME OF THE NIGHT: Portland St. at USC (10:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network)
Saturday is a quiet day of college hoops since football dominates the spotlight. But this night contest between Portland State and USC has a chance to be an interesting game. While the Trojans will have a backcourt filled with new players like UNLV transfer Katin Reinhardt and freshmen Jordan McLaughlin and Elijah Stewart, the Vikings counter with a very experienced backcourt as seniors Gary Winston, DeShaun Wiggins and Tim Douglas all averaged double-figures in scoring last season. After a disappointing 11-21 season in 2013-14, USC isn’t opening the season with an easy opponent.
THE OTHER GAME OF THE NIGHT: Manhattan at Florida State (1:00 p.m.)
Fresh off of a NCAA Tournament appearance and the Steve Masiello transcript scandal, how will the Jaspers fare with a tough road match-up at Florida State? Manhattan lost three starters from last season’s 25-win team but still have guard RaShawn Stores along with forwards Ashton Pankey and Emmy Andujar. The Seminoles will open the 2014-15 season with junior wing Aaron Thomas returning and he’ll be aided by a deep front-line featuring three 7-footers and a backcourt that returns starting point guard Devon Bookert and wing Montay Brandon. Florida State has the talent to make a postseason run and they’ll be an intriguing team in the ACC this season.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR:
- A couple of mid-major darlings with NCAA Tournament aspirations open their seasons against non-Division I opponents on Saturday as Atlantic Sun-favorite Florida Gulf Coast hosts Nova Southeast and Horizon League-favorite Green Bay hosts Illinois-Springfield. These games might not be very intriguing, but Green Bay is doing some cool stuff by honoring fallen soldiers with special American flag-themed uniforms.
- Southern Illinois traveling to Saint Louis is an interesting mid-major season opener for both teams. This will be a dramatically different Billiken team without seniors like Dwayne Evans, Jordair Jett and Mike McCall. St. Louis returns only 25 percent of its scoring from last season and they’re filled with newcomers who will need to contribute right away.
- Providence opens its season with a home game against 2014 NCAA Tournament participant Albany. The Friars finally get point guard Kris Dunn back, but how will Ed Cooley’s team look without the dynamic playmaking ability of graduated guard Bryce Cotton?
- Also beginning its 2014-15 season from the Big East is Georgetown. The Hoyas will host St. Francis (NY) and John Thompson III’s team hopes to stay healthier and play much more consistently than they did during a disappointing 2013-14 season. With Markel Starks gone, this is D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera’s team now, but who becomes the second option for the Hoyas?
- Loyola Marymount and Boise State meet in the championship game of the LMU Classic on Saturday night after both teams won on Friday night. This title game will feature a fun battle of backcourt go-to guys as the Lions will rely on high-scoring sophomore guard Evan Payne and the Broncos will count on senior Anthony Drmic.
THE TOP 25:
- Fairfield at No. 4 Duke, 8:00 p.m.
- Hillsdale at No. 22 Michigan, 2:00 p.m.