The 2016-17 college basketball season is finally upon us. As every team gears up to start its season, which match-ups are the most intriguing?
College basketball is finally here, folks. After seven months off, college basketball is back! The 2016-17 season is mercifully ready to begin Friday starting at noon and rolling all the way to two in the morning. Teams are playing all over the country on home courts and neutral sites. One game is even taking place in China.
The day will feature the some of the best teams in the country facing off against each, and even more of the best teams opening up at home against teams they should embarrass. There are so many games taking place that it might seem overwhelming. Have no fear, college basketball fans. I’ve scoured the schedule for the very best November 11 has to give.
Here are four of the most intriguing match-ups of opening day of the college basketball season.
No. 10 Arizona vs. No. 12 Michigan State (7 p.m. ESPN)
In the first marquee match up of the evening, Arizona will take on Michigan State in Honolulu, Hawaii.
The Wildcats need to find a replacement for two of their leading scorers from last season, and they’ll look to sophomore forward Allonzo Trier to lead this offense. As a freshman last season, Trier averaged 14.8 points per game, and he did that averaging just 28.0 minutes per game.
Arizona will also have senior guard Kadeem Allen leading the backcourt with two freshmen, top-20 recruits Kobi Simmons and Rawle Alkins, providing plenty of assistance. Head coach Sean Miller will have to utilize his freshmen often this season with Gabe York gone from last season.
On the other side, Tom Izzo lost all but one starter from last year’s squad and will be leaning heavily on his third-ranked recruiting class this season.
Miles Bridges, one of the most sought-after recruits in the country, is a special talent with remarkable athleticism, and he’ll get the opportunity to frequently show off that talent as the centerpiece of this offense. Fellow freshman Josh Langford and returning starter Eron Harris will be the other focal points of this Michigan State team.
This should be a great game between two highly talented teams trying to figure out how the new pieces are going to fit into their schemes. Expect it to be high scoring and down to the wire.
Clemson vs. Georgia (7 p.m. Watch ESPN)
Two words: Jaron Blossomgame. The 6-foot-7 senior returned for his senior season, and if Clemson is going to make the NCAA tournament this season, Blossomgame will be the entire reason why.
The Georgia native does everything for the Tigers. He averaged 18.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 1.3 blocks per game last season. He bullied people in the paint on offense and defense, and could even mix in a mid-range game on offense to complement his play on the low block.
Blossomgame and Clemson will be pitted against a Georgia team that has serious SEC aspirations. The Bulldogs won’t compete with Kentucky, obviously, no one in the SEC can. But they do have the talent to try and posture their way up to the No. 2 or No. 3 spot in the conference.
Georgia returns last year’s top two scorers J.J. Frazier and Yante Maten, who averaged 16.9 and 16.5 points per game, and both players should be able to improve upon that this year. Frazier also added 4.6 rebounds, 4.4 assists, and 1.4 steals per game last season, and Maten added 8.0 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game. With those two in the forefront, and the role players they have around them, the Bulldogs will be a competitive team this season.
If you’ve got your laptop out or a tablet, this is quietly going to be one of the best games of the day tomorrow.
No. 11 Indiana vs. No. 3 Kansas (9 p.m. ESPN)
The second match-up of the day between ranked teams, this game should be a joy to watch.
Indiana is one of the favorites to win the Big 12, and has plenty of great players, but did lose all-around amazing player Yogi Ferrell, and that’s tough to make up. Ferrell averaged 17.3 points, 5.6 assists, 3.8 rebounds, and 1.1 steals per game, and it’ll be up to James Blackmon Jr. and OG Anunoby to shoulder the load this season.
Kansas brought in one of the best freshman in the country this year in Josh Jackson, who will more than likely be one of the front runners for Big 12 Player of the Year and could compete for National Player of the Year. The Jayhawks also return Frank Mason III and Devonte Graham, two of last year’s best players, who averaged 12.9 and 11.3 points respectively.
These two teams are loaded with talent and this will more than likely be one of the best games to watch all day. If anything, the Jayhawks will go off, and Josh Jackson will just be a joy to watch as he destroys everyone who opposes him and Anunoby will create highlights along the way.
Other Games to Keep an Eye On:
Vanderbilt vs. Marquette (6:30 p.m. CBS Sports Network)
FGCU vs. Florida (7:30 p.m. SEC Network/Watch ESPN)
Marist vs. No. 1 Duke (7 p.m. Watch ESPN)
Stephen F. Austin vs. No. 2 Kentucky (7 p.m. SEC Network/Watch ESPN)
Harvard vs. Stanford (11 p.m. ESPN2)
After seven months of waiting, we finally get some college basketball. Whether you want to see the country’s elite square off, a closely contested battle between mid-majors, or a blowout orchestrated by some of the nation’s very best talent, there is something on the schedule for you.
Find a comfortable seat, grab as many televisions, laptops, and tablets as you can get your hands on, and prepare yourself for one hell of an opening day.
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