The college hoops 24-hour Tip-Off Marathon kicks off again on Monday evening, and as always, there are a number of particularly intriguing matchups to take note of. For your viewing assistance, here is everything you need to be aware of to properly watch the marathon while finding a way to get some sleep in.
MAKE SURE YOU’RE IN FRONT OF A TV for the Champions Classic on Tuesday night. The event has quickly turned into the most anticipated early-season event every year, and this season is certainly no different, as the top three of the top five teams in college basketball will be at the Garden.
The opening act – Kentucky vs. Michigan State, 7:00 p.m. ET – will feature two of the best athletes in college hoops in Michigan State’s Miles Bridges and Kentucky’s Malik Monk. Between Michigan State’s exhibitions and his opening night performance in a loss to Arizona, Bridges has looked like a lock to be a top ten pick come June’s NBA draft. The issue for the Spartans is figuring out where else they are going to get production. Nick Ward has shown flashes on the block, but Tum Tum Nairn and Cassius Winston were not great at the point guard spot and Eron Harris did not provide the kind of offensive boost that was expected.
That could be a problem on Tuesday, as the Spartans will square off against a Kentucky team that is very good defensively, particularly on the perimeter. The issue with the Wildcats is their perimeter shooting. De’Aaron Fox has been phenomenal in transition and has looked great as a passer, Isaiah Briscoe was able to get to the rim at will against Stephen F. Austin and Canisius and Monk has showed off his next-level athleticism a couple of times, but UK’s issues shooting the ball are still there. They were 9-for-34 from three in the two games they played this weekend, and three of those threes were from the seldom-used Mychal Mulder.
- Prediction: Kentucky (-8.0). Michigan State doesn’t have size inside and Kentucky’s guards should eat up MSU’s point guards.
The nightcap – Kansas vs. Duke, 9:30 p.m. ET – looked like potential national title game preview a month ago, but the matchup has lost a significant amount of luster in the last two weeks. That’s what happens when 60 percent of Duke’s freshman class and three of the four potential lottery picks on the roster end up getting injured. Harry Giles III is still recovering for a scope on his left knee in late-September. Jayson Tatum sprained his foot in October. Marques Bolden suffered a lower leg injury earlier this month.
The Blue Devils still have Grayson Allen available while Frank Jackson and Luke Kennard both played well over the weekend, but with those three freshmen expected to miss Tuesday’s game, we’re looking at a situation where Kansas should enter the night as the favorite.
That’s ironic considering the fact that Kansas lost to Indiana on Friday night in Hawai’i. The Jayhawks got 30 points from Frank Mason II, but star freshman Josh Jackson looked just so-so in his first collegiate game while that vaunted Kansas defense was lit up for 103 points by an Indiana team that seemed incapable of missing. The Jayhawks should get this win, but if Duke somehow pulls this out, we could be looking at a situation where both Kansas and Michigan State played games in Hawai’i and New York just five days apart and go a combined 0-4.
- Prediction: Kansas (+2.5). I think Kansas wins assuming Duke’s guys don’t suit up. If you can get the Jayhawks with the points, take it.
STAY UP LATE FOR San Diego State’s visit to the Kennel. The game – San Diego State at No. 14 Gonzaga – tips at midnight on the east coast, but it will be worth it. This team may be Mark Few’s best chance to get to the Final Four. They have a trio of transfers – Nigel Williams-Goss, Johnathan Williams III, Jordan Mathews – that will carry them while defensive stalwart Przemek Karnowski is back to join Zach Collins on one of the most underrated front lines in college hoops.
But SDSU is going to be very good this season as well. Trey Kell and Jeremy Helmsly are talented enough to carry this group offensively while the Aztecs will be just as good as they usually are defensively. It’s not easy to win in Spokane, but this should nonetheless be a good look at a pair of potential Sweet 16 teams.
LEAVE WORK EARLY AND FIND A HAPPY HOUR for Tuesday afternoon’s final game – No. 5 Oregon at Baylor, 3:30 p.m. ET. The Ducks are a legitimate national title contender, but they’ll be playing on the road without Dillon Brooks, their best player, against a Baylor team that may be better than some people realize. Manu Lecomte – 13 points, 11 assists, no turnovers – looks like he’ll be fine running the point for Scott Drew while Tyler Dorsey will be a 20-point scorer without Brooks in the lineup. Keep an eye on whether or not Johnathan Motley suits up for the Bears.
UNDER THE RADAR GAMES
I think there are two that qualify:
- Princeton at BYU, 10:00 p.m.: The first men’s game on Monday night, Princeton, who is probably the best team in the Ivy, visits a BYU team that will give Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s a run for their money in the WCC. The battle of styles in this one will be fascinating.
- Dayton at Alabama, 1:15 p.m.: Alabama looks like they’re still going to be in rebuilding mode this season, but Dayton is a team that we have in the NBCSports Top 25 who could use a solid road win over an SEC team.
Anyway, here is the full slate:
Mon, Nov. 14
- No. 4 UConn at No. 15 Florida State (women), ESPN2, 6:00 p.m.
- No. 6 Texas at No. 10 Stanford (women), ESPN2, 8:00 p.m.
- Princeton at BYU, ESPN2, 10:00 p.m.
Tue, Nov. 15
- San Diego State at No. 14 Gonzaga, ESPN2, 12:00 a.m.
- Green Bay at Pacific, ESPN2, 2:00 a.m.
- Florida Atlantic at Hawai’i, ESPN2, 4:15 a.m.
- Niagara at Hartford, ESPN2, 6:30 a.m.
- Winthrop at Manhattan, ESPN2, 8:45 a.m.
- Longwood at Stephen F. Austin, ESPN2, 11:00 a.m.
- Dayton at Alabama, ESPN2, 1:15 p.m.
- No. 5 Oregon at Baylor, ESPN2, 3:30 p.m.
- No. 2 Kentucky vs. No. 12 Michigan State, ESPN, 7:00 p.m.
- No. 1 Duke vs. No. 3 Kansas, ESPN, 9:30 p.m.