What non-conference matchup are we most looking forward to?
Rob Dauster: I’m going off the grid for this one: Arizona and Gonzaga. We all know how good the Wildcats are going to be this season — I think they are the only team that could reasonably be ranked preseason No. 1 over Kentucky — but I entered the year very high on Gonzaga, and last night’s win over SMU only reinforced my belief that the Zags are real title contenders. Both teams have massive front lines, and Arizona isn’t going to be overmatched by the strength or physicality of the Zags (it sounds weird saying that, doesn’t it?). More than anything, I’m looking forward to seeing Gonzaga get a real test from a national title contender. It will be a good way to gauge whether or not we’re looking at a team that’s getting ready to make a run.
Raphielle Johnson: I’ll take Utah’s game against Kansas on December 13 in Kansas City. This will be both an interesting and difficult test for the Utes, who are expected to contend in the Pac-12. Obviously Kansas presents multiple challenges on both the perimeter and in the paint, with Wayne Selden and Perry Ellis being the most proven options for the Jayhawks. And with the game being played in Kansas City, while that isn’t a true home game for Kansas there’s no doubt which fan base will dominate the building. Something else to consider: Utah’s playing this game three days after their annual rivalry tilt with BYU.
Larry Krystkowiak’s got himself a very skilled team, led by Delon Wright and Jordan Loveridge. But how mature are they, and how do they adjust to being expected to produce on a national scale? We’ll find out during this challenging week in mid-December.
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Scott Phillips: There are a lot of intriguing non-conference matchups this season. Duke and Wisconsin and Arizona and Gonzaga are both fun but I’m going to go with Texas at Kentucky on December 5th at Rupp Arena. Those front courts matching up will be something to watch and seeing Cameron Ridley, Jonathan Holmes and Myles Turner play against Willie Cauley-Stein, Dakari Johnson, Karl-Anthony Towns, Trey Lyles and Marcus Lee should be fun. I think both teams are Final Four-bound and there is a lot of talent on the floor in this game.
Terrence Payne: The non-conference game I’m most looking forward to is Duke traveling to the Kohl Center to take on Wisconsin on Dec. 3. The ACC/Big Ten Challenge really did a favor for college basketball fans a month into the season. This game features two top-5 teams, both of which could end up in Indianapolis in April. Is that not enough for you? How about the individual matchup of Frank Kaminsky and Jahlil Okafor. The senior vs. the freshman. The 7-footer, who went from reserve to All American against the five-star prospect and the projected No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft.