The college basketball season officially kicked off last week, and with the load of talent and hundreds of games being televised, it’s going to be tough to sort through the top games to watch this season. Don’t sweat it. That’s why I’m here.
What I decided to do for you college ball purists is compile a list of the best games to watch this year and the key players to look forward to because, let’s be honest, nobody is watching games because of mascots and cheerleaders. Well maybe the last one but you get my point. You want to see the best teams and players matchup and duke it out for supremacy.
That said, grab your calendars and go ahead and cross out “Date night with the girlfriend” because you’re not gonna want to miss these 10 showdowns.
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10. St. John’s vs. No. 9 Syracuse
Dec. 15, 2013
Who runs New York? The series will continue despite Syracuse not being in the Big East anymore. These teams will meet in Madison Square Garden. With Syracuse’s famous “New York’s College Team” chant, it’s going to be great to see them defend their mantra despite the departure from the Big East.
9. Maryland vs. No. 10 Ohio State
Dec. 4, 2013
Before leaping into the Big 10 in the 2014-2015 season, the Terps will face off against soon-to-be foe Ohio State. This will be a test to see how they will potentially pan out in a new conference, especially considering that Oho State has a few returning players back.
8. No. 1 Kentucky vs. No. 12 North Carolina
Dec. 14, 2013
North Carolina will go toe to toe against the superstar freshmen at Kentucky. This game will be intense but it will be even more interesting to see how the Kentucky freshmen play away at Chapel Hill.
7. No. 12 North Carolina vs. No. 2 Michigan State
Dec. 4, 2013
One of the featured games on the ACC/Big Ten Challenge this year, Roy Williams and his Tar Heels squad will take on a battle-tested Michigan State team. The matchup between P.J. Hairston (if he gets back) and Gary Harris will be a great to watch.
6. No. 19 Connecticut vs. No. 11 Florida
Dec. 2, 2013
This is the first time in almost 20 years that both these teams matched up. The last meeting was in 1994 and Florida edged out the Huskies, 69-60. The Huskies have a pretty good tandem with Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright, but will have a problem inside with Patric Young still on Florida’s roster.
5. No. 1 Kentucky vs. No. 3 Louisville
Dec. 28, 2013
The rivalry continues. John Calipari has a load of freshmen that will be making some noise this year, whereas Louisville has its eyes set on going back to the Big Dance, led by Russ Smith. Even though the players decide the outcome of the game, the rivalry of these two teams will take it to another plateau. See, in Kentucky, college basketball is the lifeline and these two schools have a rivalry that makes Kansas and Missouri’s look innocent. With two legendary coaches, die-hard fans and first-round draft picks on display, this game will be one of the best this year.
4. No. 7 Michigan vs. No. 6 Arizona
Dec. 14, 2013
Battle of the giants. Aaron Gordon vs. Mitch McGary. Last season, Mitch McGary didn’t make a lasting impact for the Wolverines until the NCAA Tournament, and now he is projected on the All-America team. Funny how a few games can change a player’s perception, wouldn’t you say? McGary is now looked to be the anchor of this Wolverines attack alongside super sophomore Glenn Robinson III. On the other hand, you have highly-touted freshman Aaron Gordon. Gordon is looked to come right in and contribute for the ‘Zona Wildcats and let’s be honest, he will never play behind somebody as long as he is in Tucson. In Mitch McGary, you have a big man who finally got his break and is set to show everybody that despite being projected on the All-America team, he is no flop. Whereas in Aaron Gordon, you have a solidified lottery pick ready to show why he should be mentioned as the best freshman in his class.
3. No. 2 Michigan State vs. No. 1 Kentucky
Nov. 12, 2013
This game, which is also a part of the Champions Classic held in Chicago, will be between the top ranked teams in the country. This will be the first time in NCAA history that the two top ranked teams meet so early in the season. John Calipari and his Wildcats will get their first test of the season. The Wildcats managed to put together the nation’s top recruiting class this past offseason, which is led by Julius Randle. Despite having a great freshmen class, Michigan State is returning four of the starters from last year’s team that made it to the Sweet 16. Both teams have great backcourts but with Michigan State’s deep rotation it will be interesting to see how the super frosh on Kentucky’s roster can hold up against a team that is so deep.
2. No. 9 Syracuse vs. No. 4 Duke
Feb. 1, 2014
Syracuse will host the Duke Blue Devils for the first time ever in the Carrier Dome. Yeah you read right, the Duke Blue Devils have never played in the Carrier Dome. Also, to add to the excitement, this game will be on ESPN College Gameday Saturday so you can expect the cast to take it to another level. This matchup will also mark the first time Duke and Syracuse meet as ACC members after the new conference alignments.
Let’s get into the particulars: The series between these two teams is tied at two a piece with both coaches Jim Boeheim and Mike Krzyzewski being the only active coaches in the NCAA with 900-plus wins. Also, both are colleagues on the USA Basketball staff and have historic traditions at their universities. Looks like a rivalry in the making, and come Feb. 1, we get to see it unfold.
1. No. 4 Duke vs. No. 5 Kansas
Nov. 12, 2013
We all know which game is at the top. The first game of the season that will really kick off the excitement for the fans involves a slugfest in the making between the Duke Blue Devils and the Kansas Jayhawks in the Champions Classic. The headline you ask? Andrew Wiggins vs. Jabari Parker. Mano-a-Mano. Frazier vs. Ali (insert another triumphant battle phrase here).
Now don’t get me wrong. Between these two teams they have bolstering talent, but all eyes are on these two freshman. Both of them were ranked one and one, according to ESPNU’s Top 100 last season, and it’s going to be a sight to see them and their teams go face-to-face. Although the likes of them guarding each other are slim, just the electricity of having both of them on the floor at the same time is enough.
What do you think?
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