Viewer's Guide: Get ready for early-season championship games
The weekend will be filled with interesting championship game matchups in most of the early-season tournaments.
Heading into Friday afternoon, the matchups currently set on paper make the weekend schedule look a little light. However, that’s because the championship games (and in the case of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, the consolation games) aren’t set yet. We could see North Carolina Tar Heels - Louisville Cardinals , Georgetown Hoyas -VCU, New Mexico Lobos - Clemson Tigers , Michigan Wolverines - Charlotte 49ers , Michigan State Spartans - Oklahoma Sooners , and several other noteworthy tilts if things turn out as expected.
Note: All times are Eastern, and the rankings are according to the AP Poll.
Best game: Indiana Hoosiers vs. No. 18 Connecticut Huskies (7 p.m., Friday, ESPN2). The championship of the 2K Sports Classic is the best game of the weekend . . . for now. The championship games of the other early-season tournaments could be better, but those are yet to be determined. Anyway, Indiana-UConn should be a very good matchup. The key for Indiana will be guarding the perimeter group of the Huskies, especially Shabazz Napier . Also, can Yogi Ferrell initiate offense with Napier and Boatright on him? On the other side, do the Huskies have any answer for Noah Vonleh on the inside?
Second-best game: Harvard Crimson at Colorado Buffaloes (4:30 p.m., Sunday, ESPNU). A really good test for both teams. Harvard is 4-0 with mostly regional wins, although the Crimson could push for the top 25 with a road win over the Buffalo Bulls es. Meanwhile, Colorado has reeled off five in a row after losing the opener to Baylor Bears . With that said, the Buffs have been terrible from behind the arc and are also defending the perimeter fairly poorly. Getting Brandyn Curry back from injury would be a big boost for Harvard – especially heading into a tough environment. The Siyani Chambers vs. Spencer Dinwiddie battle will be entertaining.
Another one to watch: No. 14 Michigan vs. Florida State Seminoles State" data-canon="Florida Gators" data-type="SPORTS_OBJECT_TEAM" id="shortcode0"> (5 p.m., ESPN2). I would have put New Mexico and UMass in this slot, but the game had already tipped by the time I posted. As a result, we’ll get to see if Florida State can follow up its shocking blowout of VCU with another good performance. The Seminoles are pushing the ball more than they used to, while also bringing back the defensive prowess that they lacked last season. Michigan bounced back from its road loss to Michigan with an easy win over Long Beach State 49ers on Thursday night.
Guaranteed wins: Several ranked teams have stiff tests this weekend, but the following three should cruise. No. 11 Memphis Tigers hosts Nicholls State Colonels (6 p.m., Saturday, ESPN3). No. 12 Wisconsin Badgers welcomes Oral Roberts Golden Eagles (8:30 p.m., Saturday, Big Ten Network). And finally, No. 6 Duke Blue Devils should roll past Vermont Catamounts (6:30 p.m., Sunday, ESPNU).
Potential upset: I honestly didn’t have any good ones jump out at me on Friday’s slate – so I went to the Vegas lines, and picked the one legitimate underdog that has the best chance of winning. That’s South Alabama Crimson Tide , playing Southern Miss Golden Eagles Miss" data-canon="Southern Jaguars" data-type="SPORTS_OBJECT_TEAM" id="shortcode0"> (8:05 p.m., Friday). Augustine Rubit is a double-double machine and is capable of carrying the Jaguars on his back.
Five things to keep an eye on:
- Jerrelle Benimon got some hype when it beat Temple Owls a couple of weeks ago – and now the Tigers are on a big stage against No. 2 Kansas Jayhawks (8 p.m., Friday, ESPN3)
- How does No. 24 North Carolina respond after losing to Belmont Bruins last weekend? The Tar Heels face Richmond Spiders (12 p.m., Saturday).
- Don’t be surprised to see both Boston University Terriers and UC-Irvine (8:30 p.m., Saturday) in the NCAA tournament.
- No. 17 Oregon Ducks is going to be a factor for the Pac-12 title, but San Francisco Dons has size and depth (8 p.m., Sunday, Pac-12 Network).
- Fun fact: FIU is tied for the nation’s third-longest winning streak. That could end at South Carolina Gamecocks (1 p.m., Saturday).
Other games to watch:
- Kansas State Wildcats vs. Georgetown (11 a.m., ESPNU)
- Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. UAB (11 a.m., ESPN3)
- Charlotte vs. Northeastern Huskies (2:30 p.m., ESPNU)
- Massachusetts Minutemen vs. No. 19 New Mexico (2:30 p.m., ESPN2).
- Boston College Eagles vs. Washington Huskies (5 p.m., ESPNU)
- Providence Friars vs. Vanderbilt Commodores (6:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network)
- Oklahoma vs. Seton Hall Pirates (7 p.m., truTV)
- Delaware Fightin' Blue Hens at Villanova Wildcats (7 p.m., FOX Sports 1)
- Pennsylvania Quakers at Iowa Hawkeyes (7 p.m., Big Ten Network)
- Long Beach State vs. No. 10 VCU (7:30 p.m., ESPNU)
- San Francisco at Montana Grizzlies (9 p.m.)
- Chicago State Cougars at Illinois Fighting Illini (9 p.m., Big Ten Network)
- Virginia Cavaliers Tech vs. No. 1 Michigan State (9:30 p.m., truTV)
- Davidson Wildcats vs. Clemson (9:30 p.m., ESPNU)
- Bradley Braves at Arizona Wildcats State (10 p.m., Pac-12 Network)
- Morehead State Eagles vs. No. 22 UCLA Bruins (11 p.m., Pac-12 Network)
- No. 3 Louisville vs. Fairfield Stags (2 p.m.)
- Tulsa Golden Hurricane at No. 23 Creighton Bluejays (3:30 p.m., FOX Sports Net)
- Gardner-Webb Bulldogs at Missouri Tigers (3:30 p.m.)
- New Mexico State Aggies at UTEP (9:05 p.m.)
- Mississippi State Bulldogs at Utah State Aggies State" data-canon="Utah Utes" data-type="SPORTS_OBJECT_TEAM" id="shortcode0"> (9:05 p.m.)
- Siena Saints at Purdue Boilermakers (12 p.m., Big Ten Network)
- Sam Houston Cougars State at Texas Longhorns A&M (5 p.m., ESPN3)
- Chattanooga Mocs at No. 22 UCLA (10 p.m., Pac-12 Network)
The information on who harassed John Higgins will now be turned over to the FBI
Some of these future NBA picks might work out, but others won't sniff being drafted
This is a good development for Louisville, which may avoid having its coaches forced to testify...
The athletic guard withdrew from the NBA Draft late Wednesday night
Next step in the case, which began in 2011, is for UNC to face the NCAA's Committee on Inf...
We look at 40-plus teams affected by this year's NBA Draft