How many times have we seen Duke-North Carolina?
|Kansas-Florida in Sin City -- Brandon Rush can't wait. (Getty Images)|
In other words, screw conference games.
I'm more focused on the non-conference games pitting schools of different sizes, traditions and from contrasting regions against each other. With that in mind, I came up with 20 Non-league Games You Don't Want to Miss. So grab your calendar and pencil and start taking notes.
(I even put it in chronological order. I'm reader-friendly like that.)
1. Texas vs. Maryland in New York on Nov. 17 (tentative): It was four years ago when a freshman named Carmelo Anthony burst onto the national scene, scoring 27 points and grabbing 11 rebounds against Memphis at Madison Square Garden. This year, Texas freshman Kevin Durant could have a similar opportunity. If the Longhorns can navigate through the bracket of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, they'll find themselves on national television in the title game at MSG. That it could come against Durant's home-state school, Maryland, only makes the possibility more interesting.
2. Wichita State at George Mason on Nov. 18: This Sweet 16 rematch will give two so-called mid-majors some well-deserved exposure. Though nationally it'll certainly be overshadowed by football on this Saturday afternoon, basketball junkies would be wise to tune in and see that you don't have to have three first-round NBA picks to have a good college team, though, granted, it certainly doesn't hurt.
3. Georgia Tech vs. Memphis in Maui on Nov. 21 (tentative): Georgia Tech has to beat Purdue. Memphis has to beat Oklahoma. But if both those things happen, then the semifinals of the Maui Invitational will match two Top 25 teams, though that's not what makes this interesting. What does is that it'll be Memphis playing against the best prospect to come out of Memphis -- Georgia Tech freshman Thaddeus Young -- since, perhaps, Penny Hardaway, and if Young drops 20 on his hometown school, he could be banned from the city. Forever.
4. Duke vs. Texas Tech in Kansas City on Nov. 21 (tentative): This matchup isn't likely, considering it would require the Red Raiders first beating Gardner-Webb, Akron and Marquette (Gardner-Webb shouldn't be an issue, but Akron will be very tough, and Marquette is a top 20 team). Still, if it somehow materializes, we'd have Bobby Knight, on the verge of breaking Dean Smith's record for career wins, against Mike Krzyzewski, who, if he wants, will probably break Knight's record down the road. When Knight and Krzyzewski are each long gone, they will likely be remembered as two of the top five college basketball coaches in history. So anytime they're on the same court, it's worth paying attention.
5. Florida vs. Kansas in Las Vegas on Nov. 25: Going by my preseason rankings -- and really, what other rankings would you go by? -- this projects as a matchup of No. 1 vs. No. 2. There will probably be about seven future professionals on the floor at any given time, and nobody will be surprised (except North Carolina fans, of course) if the 2007 national champions are participating in this event.
6. Ohio State at North Carolina on Nov. 29: This was supposed to be the matchup of super freshman Greg Oden against super sophomore Tyler Hansbrough. Now, it's doubtful that will actually happen, considering Oden had wrist surgery in June that could keep him sidelined until January. But the big guy will probably still at least be sitting on the sidelines. So that's kind of cool, I guess.