Mark these clashes on your calendar
We’ve scoured for the top non-conference games of the 2010-11 college basketball slate and here are the must-see ones, highlighted by a matchup between two teams who could start and finish at No. 1 and No. 2.
TOP NON-CONFERENCE GAMES
Dec. 1 – Michigan State at Duke, 9:30 p.m.
This is arguably the top two teams in the preseason going up against one another in Cameron in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. Should be a terrific point-guard battle between the veteran Kalin Lucas and the new kid on the block, Blue Devils talented frosh Kyrie Irving.
Nov. 16 – Ohio State at Florida, 6 p.m. ET
This pits two teams with Final Four hopes against each other down in Gainesville. The Buckeyes lost Evan Turner but bring in a beast down low with freshman Jared Sullinger. The Gators will be led by Chandler Parsons.
Dec. 18 – Kansas State vs. Florida in Sunrise, Fla., TBD
Here’s another quality non-conference matchup for Billy Donovan’s club. This one comes against K-State and the Wildcats head coach, Frank Martin, a Florida guy. K-State is led by hard-nosed Chicago guard Jake Pullen.
Dec. 4 – Kentucky at North Carolina, 12:30 p.m.
Two of the elite programs in America clash. The Wildcats are young and will rely on freshmen Brandon Knight and hopefully big man Enes Kanter (he’s still not cleared by the NCAA). The Tar Heels welcome in arguably the top freshman in the nation in Harrison Barnes.
Dec. 4 – Butler vs. Duke in East Rutherford, N.J., 3:15 p.m.
This would have been the top game on this list if Gordon Hayward had opted to return to school. While the Bulldogs likely won’t vie for the national title again, this game should be an intriguing rematch of last season’s championship game — especially with the improvement of guard Shelvin Mack.
Dec. 31 – Kentucky at Louisville, 12 p.m. ET
The two schools hate each other, the two coaches dislike one another — and it’s always a war. Despite the Cards being down in terms of talent, it’ll still be a game to circle because of the intensity and animosity.
Dec. 7 – Michigan State vs. Syracuse in Jimmy V Classic in New York, 9 p.m. ET
The Orange shocked the nation a year ago, but have lost Wesley Johnson. Now Jim Boeheim’s team gets a chance to go up against Tom Izzo’s Spartans in Madison Square Garden.
Nov. 22 – Kansas State vs. Gonzaga in CBE in Kansas City, 8:30 p.m. ET
This is the opening-day matchup in K.C. between a pair of Top 25 teams. Matt Bouldin is gone, but the ‘Zags are still loaded. Kansas State is the preseason favorite to win the Big 12.
Dec. 29 – Temple at Villanova, TBD
This Big Five matchup is also one that involves two of the top programs on the national level this year. ‘Nova is guard-heavy as usual while the Owls will rely on the duo of big man Lavoy Allen and guard Juan Fernandez.
Dec. 22 – Illinois vs. Missouri in St. Louis, 8 p.m.
This one is heated anyway, but now with the emergence of the Tigers it’ll become even more intense. The Illini welcome a stellar freshman class led by Jereme Richmond , while Mike Anderson has a big-time frosh of his own in speedy point guard Phil Pressey.
Dec. 7 – Memphis vs. Kansas in Jimmy V Classic New York, 7 p.m. ET
The Jawhawks will have a different look without Sherron Collins, Cole Aldrich and Xavier Henry. Then again, so will Josh Pastner’s team, which brought in just about as much talent as any program in the nation.
Dec. 22 – Xavier at Gonzaga, 8 p.m. PT
I’m not sure you’ll find two more successful non-BCS programs over the last decade. The ‘Zags are loaded while Chris Mack’s Musketeers are somewhat of a mystery and should be led by Tu Holloway.
Dec. 1 – Purdue at Virginia Tech, 7:30 p.m. ET
This should be a nice early test to see whether Robbie Hummel is completely back from a torn ACL and also if the Hokies are for real. Love the battle of guards between E’Twaun Moore and Malcolm Delaney.
Dec. 22 – Texas at Michigan State, 7 p.m. ET
The Longhorns will have a different look with the departure of Damion James, Dexter Pittman and Avery Bradley and the addition of talented Canadians Cory Joseph and Tristan Thompson. Last season the Longhorns won in Austin.
Nov. 30 – Ohio State at Florida State, 7:30 p.m. ET
Last season Evan Turner and the Buckeyes won in Columbus. The ‘Noles lost Solomon Alabi, but bring back Chris Singleton and Michael Snaer and will still have plenty of size.
Dec. 11 – Tennessee at Pittsburgh, 3:15 p.m. ET
The Vols head to the Peterson Events Center and play a Jamie Dixon club that doesn’t have a star but has a ton of quality players. Bruce Pearl has lost a lot but brought in talented freshman forward Tobias Harris.
Feb. 23 – Temple at Duke, 7 p.m.
Great coaching matchup between one of the most underrated in Fran Dunphy and arguably the best coach in America in Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski.
Nov. 28 – Florida at Florida State, TBD
This in-state rivalry hasn’t been up for grabs like this in a long time. Can’t wait for the matchup between Chandler Parsons and Chris Singleton.
Dec. 2 – UCLA at Kansas, 8 p.m. CT
I know, I know. The Bruins weren’t any good last season, but this one will be of major interest to see whether Ben Howland’s club can take a step towards what they were — and the Jayhawks are somewhat of a mystery, also.
Dec. 4 – Illinois vs. Gonzaga in Seattle, 2:15 p.m. PT
The ‘Zags have a difficult non-conference schedule — and we can only hope this quasi-home contest against the Illini will be as entertaining as last year’s contest in which Gonzaga blew a 21-point lead and held on for the victory in overtime.
Dec. 18 – Gonzaga vs. Baylor in Dallas, 3:30 p.m. CT
This is a chance to see ultra-talented Baylor freshman big man Perry Jones against Mark Few’s club.
Nov. 22 – Duke vs. Marquette in Kansas City at CBE, 7:30 p.m. ET
The Blue Devils are the preseason favorite, but they will go against a Buzz Williams team without many big names — but one that fights on every possession.
Nov. 30 – North Carolina at Illinois, 8:30 p.m.
The Tar Heels travel to Champaign for the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. It’ll be interesting to see how Larry Drew II and freshman Kendall Marshall do against the Illini guards.
Jan. 16 – Purdue at West Virginia, TBD
The Boilermakers beat Bob Huggins’ team in West Lafayette last New Year’s Day, but this Mountaineers team will be completely different without Da’Sean Butler and Devin Ebanks. It’ll be Kevin Jones’ team.
Dec. 11 – Washington at Texas A&M, TBD
The Huskies finished the season strong and while Lorenzo Romar is without Quincy Pondexter, he’ll still have most of his team back and should have a tough task in College Station against a well-coached Aggies club.
30 MORE TO WATCH (LISTED BY DATE)
Nov. 16 – San Diego State at Gonzaga, 8 p.m. PT
Nov. 16 – Virginia Tech at Kansas State, 3 p.m. ET
Nov. 16 – Butler at Louisville, TBD
Nov. 18 – Illinois vs. Texas in New York, 9:30 p.m. ET
Nov. 20 – Wisconsin at UNLV, 4 p.m. PT
Nov. 30 – Georgetown vs. Missouri in Kansas City, 8 p.m.
Dec. 1 – N.C. State at Wisconsin, 7:15 p.m. ET
Dec. 1 – Saint Mary’s at San Diego State, 7:30 PT
Dec. 4 – N.C. State at Syracuse, TBD
Dec. 4 – Wichita State at San Diego State, 7 p.m. PT
Dec. 5 – Temple at Maryland, TBD
Dec. 8 – Vanderbilt at Missouri, 8 p.m.
Dec. 9 – Butler at Xavier, TBD
Dec. 9 – Georgetown at Temple, TBD
Dec. 11 – St. Louis at Duke, 12 p.m.
Dec. 11 – Arizona at BYU in Salt Lake City, 4 p.m.
Dec. 18 – Texas vs. North Carolina in Greensboro, 4 p.m. ET
Dec. 18 – Virginia Tech vs. Mississippi State in the Bahamas, TBD
Dec. 18 – Florida State at Loyola Marymount, TBD
Dec. 21 – UNLV vs. Kansas State in Kansas City, 8 p.m.
Dec. 23 – Georgetown at Memphis, TBD
Dec. 29 – Marquette at Vanderbilt, 8 p.m. ET
Dec. 31 – Florida at Xavier, TBD
Jan. 5 – Memphis at Tennessee, 9 p.m. ET
Jan. 8 – UConn at Texas, 2:30 p.m. CT
Jan. 15 – Villanova vs. Maryland at the Wells Fargo Center, TBD
Jan. 22 – Tennessee at UConn, 2 p.m. ET
Jan. 22 – Saint Mary’s at Vanderbilt, 1 p.m. ET
Feb. 5 – Memphis at Gonzaga, 1 p.m. PT
eb. 8 – Xavier at Georgia, TBD