CBB Season Starts With Some Big Games
by Trevor Whenham - 11/14/2006
The wait is over, and college basketball has finally begun. Some people may argue that you have to wait until conference play starts, or at least until teams have several games under their belts, to make watching it interesting. If you think that, however, you are missing out on some potentially classic games that are scheduled for right at the start of the season. Here are 10 games that will be played over the next three weeks which should not only be exciting to watch, but will tell us something about the teams playing as they head into the meat of their schedules.
Nov. 18 - Wichita State at George Mason - Most years, Wichita State would have been the big Cinderella story of the tournament, but George Mason definitely stole their thunder last year. This will be a chance for the Shockers to get some revenge. It will also let us see if either team is any good and has the potential of doing the impossible two years in a row. Wichita State in particular has the potential to be special again.
Nov. 24 - Florida State at Pittsburgh - The experts are touting the Panthers as the best in the Big East, and this will be their first chance to prove it. Florida State is expected to be competitive in the ACC. High-scoring guard Toney Douglas, the transfer from Auburn, leads the Seminoles. Aaron Gray and the rest of the Panthers could have their hands full if they aren't at their best.
Nov. 25 - Kansas vs. Florida - These two teams will square off in an epic battle in Las Vegas. It's quite possible that they will be No. 1 and No. 2 when they tip off. Despite their obvious talent, each team has questions - Kansas is very young, and Florida has to prove that they can recapture the magic they harnessed last year. The losing team will be set back some. This game should be close, though early season match-ups between top teams can often turn into one-sided affairs.
Nov. 28 - Indiana at Duke - This is a showdown between two big-time coaches who, in different ways, have something to prove. Kelvin Sampson came to Indiana under a shady cloud this year, and he is probably on a pretty short leash. A win here would buy him some breathing room. Coach K is obviously in no threat at Duke, but he does have a squad this year that has a lot of questions beyond Josh McRoberts, and a lot of doubters.
Nov. 29 - Michigan State at Boston College - A team on a downswing against a team that suddenly needs a win. The Spartans aren't as good as they used to be by any means, but any team coached by Tom Izzo can be dangerous. Boston College was shocked by Vermont and will be out to prove that that result was just a fluke rather than a sign of bigger problems.
Nov. 29 - Ohio State at North Carolina - This is the last of the big ACC vs. Big Ten match-ups that should be interesting. It's possible that this will be a showdown between two top five teams. North Carolina is going to be very good this year, and Ohio State is likely the class of the Big Ten. This will be a chance for the Buckeyes to prove that they are a good team now. If they are then they will really be dangerous when super-frosh Greg Oden comes back from a wrist injury in January.
Dec. 2 - Kentucky at North Carolina - The Wildcats are desperate to show that their relatively poor year last year was just an aberration (Tubby Smith's job could depend on it), and a win on the road over the Tar Heels would definitely be a good first step. For North Carolina, this will be the first test of how well they can play in consecutive tough challenges, as this comes just four days after the Ohio State game.
Dec. 2 - Georgetown at Duke - These two teams have always been rivals, but the intensity jumped up a notch last year when the Hoyas handed Duke their first lost. This year, for the first time in many years, Georgetown is the higher ranked coming into the season, and both teams have serious post season potential. A win here will be a big boost for either team.
Dec. 2 - Gonzaga vs. Texas - Both teams have rabid home crowds, but neither will have that advantage since this game is in Phoenix. Gonzaga will have to learn to cope in the post-Adam Morrison era, while Texas has to live without LaMarcus Aldridge. Texas could really make some noise this year, especially if freshman Kevin Durant is as good as people think he can be. This will be a great test for both teams to see if they are ready for primetime yet.
Dec 2 - Illinois at Arizona - Illinois has to break in a new point guard, Chester Frazier, to fill the large shoes of Dee Brown. He'll face a serious test from Arizona. With a budding star in forward Marcus Williams and a potential superstar in freshman Chase Budinger, Arizona has a chance to be really, really good. They will have to find their way first, though, and Illinois will be the first chance to see how well they are developing.