November 15, 2010
College basketball nirvana is just a few hours away as ESPN’s 2010 Tip Off Marathon kicks off at midnight. Last season was about showcasing some individual talents that may not have otherwise been seen on the national stage. This season’s extravaganza is highlighted by some marquee matchups and very good early season tests. 14 of week one’s top 25 will be in action as part of the marathon, including two match ups of top 25 teams battling, both men’s and women’s defending national champions, and quite possibly the Connecticut women’s stiffest challenge on their way to breaking UCLA’s consecutive win mark when they battle #2 Baylor.
The 24 hours of goodness kicks off at the stroke of midnight as Josh Pastner’s heralded freshman class led by electric scorer Will Barton plays host to the Miami Hurricanes looking to improve on a disappointing 09-10 season. That game is followed by a 2 a.m. tip in Moraga, California as former UCLA coach Steve Lavin returns to the sidelines bringing his veteran laden St. John’s Red Storm across the country to battle the guard led sharp shooting of Mickey McConnell, Matthew Dellavedova and the Gaels of St. Mary’s. The afternoon and early evening plays host to three intriguing match-ups. First Seth Greenburg takes his 24th ranked Hokies of Virginia Tech into Manhattan, Kansas to do battle with Big 12 pre-season Player of the Year Jacob Pullen and the 3rd ranked Kansas State. At 6p.m. a pair of marquee match-ups tip, the 5th ranked Ohio State Buckeyes show off their freshman big man Jared Sullinger who joins Thad Motta’s experienced club, they tangle with 10th ranked Florida with a freshman big man of of their own in Patric Young. And in what may be the biggest match-up of the 24 hours, the top ranked Connecticut women’s team seeks their 80th straight victory but will have to go through #2 Baylor and Britteny Griner.
In the Tuesday night session national runner-up Butler travels to Louisville to christen the Cardinals’ new digs, the KFC Yum! Center in what should be a good early test for Brad Stevens’ Bulldogs. If you are still awake I suggest checking out the penultimate game of the marathon, an 11p.m tip between Steve Fisher’s San Diego State Aztecs led by Malcom Thomas, D.J. Gay and Kawhi Leonard as they travel to Spokane, Washington to battle Robert Sacre, Steven Gray and Super Soph Elias Harris and the rest of Mark Few’s Gonzaga Bulldogs.
Last Year’s marathon was more about getting some very college players some exposure they otherwise wouldn’t have gotten. It also was a big foreshadower of the unpredictability of the season to come as Cal-State Fullerton defeated UCLA in double overtime to kick off the marathon. This year is more about marquee games, so brew the coffee, drink the Dew, keep the No-Dose handy and see what the 2010-2011 season has in store.