11-5-19 College basketball Games to Watch
Here’s my preview for Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019, college basketball “opening day/night:”
“You had me at hello”-Headliner games
#3 Kansas vs. #4 Duke (-1) (State Farm Champions Classic; MSG, NY) at 7 p.m. (ESPN)
#1 Michigan St. (-3) vs. #2 Kentucky (State Farm Champions Classic; MSG, NY) at 9:30 p.m. (ESPN)
What took college football ELEVEN weeks to arrange, college basketball does right off the bat. We get #1 vs. #2, and to add to that, we get #3 vs. #4. Now chances are that in what is widely viewed as a wide open year, at least one or two of these teams may disappoint as the season plays out. However, there’s no denying that this event brings four of the perennial power programs together to start the season off with a big bang. These games seem particularly compelling to me because each game pits a team with a decent bit of veterans (Michigan St. & Kansas) versus a team loaded with freshmen top recruits (Duke & UK). I think we get a split in that regard; I like Kansas and Kentucky to win (but these games do seem like toss ups especially with no regular season results to fall back on).
“ACC! ACC! ACC!”-Conference games of note
#5 Louisville (-7) at Miami, FL (ACC) at 6:30 p.m. (ACCN)
Va. Tech at Clemson (-5) (ACC) at 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
Ga. Tech at N.C. State (-7) (ACC) at 8:30 p.m. (ACCN)
With the ACC wanting to push their network, we have a rarity with conference games on opening night. A lot of people are picking Louisville to win the ACC this year, and they get tested right out the box at Miami. N.C. State is expected to be an NCAA tournament team this year after just missing last year (that 24-point game still hurts, I would think), and they host a Georgia Tech team that is ineligible for the tournament this year. Lastly, two teams expected to be towards the bottom of the league also tangle. I am taking the favorites to win in all three games.
“You had me at hello” part two-First game of the season
C. Arkansas at # 16 Baylor (-26) at noon (ESPN+) $$
There are three games at noon on opening day, but only one pits two D-1 schools against each other. I will definitely sneak a peek while working at this one just to warm my heart that college basketball is back, baby! (Insert bad Dickie V impression at the end of this sentence)
“Third wheel”-Games that might be headliners if not for the Champions Classic (and still worth a watch)
#20 St. Mary’s (-3) vs. Wisconsin (Sioux Falls, SD; Sanford Pentagon) at 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
Utah at Nevada (-5 ½) at 10:30 p.m. (CBSSN)
St. Mary’s is getting big run this preseason. Wisconsin didn’t even get one vote in the AP poll. This feels like the kind of game Wisky wins. Okay, so maybe I am stretching it a little bit with the Utah-Nevada game, but I still really like this game, and you can watch the second half after #1 vs. #2 finish up. How does Nevada do post-Muss? Is Steve Alford meant to be a Mountain West coaching mainstay? Will Larry Krystowiak have Utah playing well off the bat or will they wait to play well in conference to muddy up the Pac-12? We need these answers.
Upset watch games
Princeton at Duquesne (-6) at 6 p.m. (ESPN+) $$
Penn at Alabama (-7 ½) at 8 p.m. (SECN+)
N. Dakota St. at Kansas St. (-12 ½) at 8 p.m. (ESPN+) $$
FGCU at St. Louis (-9) at 8 p.m. (ESPN+) $$
Jacksonville St. at SMU (-11 ½) at 8 p.m. (ESPN3)
Drexel at Temple (-12 ½) at 8 p.m. (ESPN3)
N. Colorado at Texas (-16) at 8 p.m. (LHN)
Ga. Southern at #24 Auburn (-14 ½) at 9 p.m. (SECN)
Fresno St. at #15 Oregon (-13 ½) at 9 p.m. (Pac-12N)
Purdue Fort Wayne at UNLV (-10 ½) at 10 p.m. (MWN/UNLVRebels.com)
CS-Northridge at Oregon St. (-12 ½) at 11 p.m. (Pac-12N-Oregon)
My bold prediction for the above group of games is that two of the underdogs win, and three or four others scare the mess out of the favorites. I also think there will be one or two other big underdogs win that I didn’t have on this list. It’s part of what makes the sport so fun.
Mid-major Games to Watch
Northeastern (-3) at Boston U. at 7 p.m. (PLN/Stadium)
Furman (-3) at Gardner-Webb at 7 p.m. (ESPN+) $$
Yale (-1) at Stony Brook at 7 p.m. (SNY/ESPN+ $$)
Old Dominion at N. Iowa (-5 ½) at 8 p.m. (ESPN+) $$
Toledo (-3 ½) at Valparaiso at 8 p.m. (ESPN3)
UC Irvine (-4) at San Diego at 10 p.m. (WCC Network/Stadium)
These six games should be some of the best mid-major vs. mid-major action to start the season. If you are tired of hearing ESPN talk about Zion even though he graduated last year, then tune these games in. The announcers for these will probably actually talk about the games being played, and not promote ABC’s new shows relentlessly in the process (no promises, as this still may happen on the “ocho,” uh, I mean the “plus”).
Last but not least-Other notable games
Bradley (-3 ½) at St. Joseph’s at 7 p.m. (ESPN+) $$
Ohio at St. Bonaventure (-12) at 7:30 p.m. (ESPN+) $$
Just a couple more games that I really like on paper. That is all.
“The Good, then The Bad & The Ugly”
Now that I have blabbered on way to long about all the games I am super excited about because, you know, these are games that count, I should mention a trend I really am disliking to balance out all the potentially good games on the schedule on November 5th. I count nearly 60 games between D-1 schools and non-D1 schools on the schedule. While I understand the low majors and mid majors need to get some home games and don’t want to take a NET hit for playing a bad low or mid major, holy cow some of these games are just pathetic. Thankfully, I don’t have to watch any of them because there are so many games on the calendar, but come on folks, maybe you could actually schedule each other instead of schools I have never heard of (and will soon forget existed). Just a thought. Now, carry on celebrating the return of the best sport on the planet! Enjoy!