Tip-Off Marathon Preview

15 Nov

It’s that time of year again; the Tip-Off Marathon is right around the corner.  Once again it is highlighted by the finale of the Champions’ Classic with Kentucky vs. Duke and Kansas facing Michigan State.    Before that happens the 27 hours that is the undercard offers up some things to whet your appetite.

At 9pm on Monday we get a look at the nation’s top freshman Ben Simmons when LSU takes on Kennesaw State.  The Tigers enter this year with heightened expectations.  Simmons is joined by fellow freshman star Antonio Blakeney and are led by senior guard Keith Hornsby and junior Tim Quarterman.  After a disappointing performance in the NCAA Tournament the Tigers are looking for a big rebound.  Their opponent, the Kennesaw State Owls have a new coach in former Boston College head man Al Skinner and are looking to find their way in the Atlantic Sun.

At 9:30pm former Mountain West foes square off when San Diego State travels to Utah to face the Utah Utes.  Senior forwards Angelo Chol and Winston Shepard lead a full Aztec frontcourt along with sophomore Malik Pope who looks to have an increased role for Coach Steve Fischer.    The Utes return Jordan Loveridge and Brandon Taylor along with five other leading scorers including sophomore center Jakob Poeltl.  Larry Krystowiak and company are hoping to better their efforts of last season when they gave Duke all they could handle in the Sweet 16.

Just in time for breakfast on Tuesday there is a battle between two programs that bracket buster potential and resumes.  Northern Iowa takes on Stephen F. Austin at 8am.  This is a rematch of a marathon game from last season that saw Northern Iowa win in overtime 79-77.  The Panthers must replace their top two scorers but they do return Wes Washpun, Matt Bohannon and Paul Jesperson to lead this group for Ben Jacobsen.  Stephen F. Austin has one of the hottest coaching commodities in the country in Brad Underwood and have averaged 29 wins over the last three seasons.  The Lumberjacks must replace former conference Player of the Year Jacob Parker but they also return six other leading scorers including top man Thomas Walkup.  This should be a good game to watch over a bowl of frosted flakes.

Following that game, Valparaiso, the odds on favorite to win the Horizon League faces a trendy pick to win the Atlantic 10 in Rhode Island.  Bryce Drew’s Crusaders won 28 games last season and nearly pulled off the upset of Maryland in the NCAA Tournament.  They also return their top eight scorers and might be putting a scare into another team come March.  The Rams won23 games last season and earned a trip to the NIT, this season they have loftier goals.  They return do-everything E.C. Matthews as well as Vermont transfer Four McGlynn is now eligible.  Big man Hassan Martin also returns to lead the Rhode Island frontcourt.

In between the Champions’ Classic doubleheader the Georgetown Hoyas take a new -look Maryland Terrapins squad.  The Hoyas have had their struggles of late in the NCAA Tournament.  They return a favorite for Big East Player of the Year in D’vauntes Smith-Rivera leading this crop of Hoyas.  Maryland has been remade under head coach Mark Turgeon.  This season the Terrapins have national title aspirations and that’s because of what they have returning.  Senior big man Jake Layman, forward Robert Carter and sophomore guard Melo Trimble all return.  New additions, Duke transfer Rasheed Sulaimon and big-time recruit center Diamond Stone add to a solid foundation in College Park and a game with the Hoyas will be a good early test.

If you feel like staying up for 31 hours straight to watch college hoops these are some of the undercard games to keep an eye on before the crescendo of the Champions’ Classic in Chicago.

Monday, Nov. 16

  • 5:30 p.m. No. 1 UConn at No. 13 Ohio State (women), ESPN2
  • 7:30 p.m. No. 4 Virginia at George Washington, ESPN2
  • 9 p.m. Kennesaw State at LSU (Legends Classic), ESPNU
  • 9:30 p.m. San Diego State at No. 13 Utah, ESPN2
  • 11:30 p.m. No. 17 Baylor at Oregon

Tuesday, Nov. 17

  • 1:45 a.m. BYU at Long Beach State, ESPN2
  • 4 a.m. Nevada at Hawaii, ESPN2
  • 6 a.m. Green Bay at East Tennessee State, ESPN2
  • 8 a.m. Stephen F. Austin at Northern Iowa, ESPN2
  • 10 a.m. Valparaiso at Rhode Island, ESPN2
  • 1 p.m. Alabama at Dayton, ESPN
  • 3 p.m. Colorado at Auburn, ESPN
  • 5 p.m. No. 8 Oklahoma at Memphis, ESPN
  • 7:30 p.m. No. 3 Kentucky vs. No. 6 Duke (Champions Classic), ESPN
  • 9 p.m. Georgetown at No. 1 Maryland, ESPN2
  • 10 p.m.No. 5 Kansas vs. No. 19 Michigan State (Champions Classic), ESPN
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