2015 24-hour college hoops marathon: Schedule, top games to watch

College basketball’s season is officially less than three months away. (USATSI)

OK, you can sort of start to feel the worst and longest part of the offseason beginning to shed. College basketball’s regular season is still a ways away (heck, can college football season get here already? We’re dyin’ here, man!), but a piece of news has been released that lets us know the college hoops campaign can be spotted on the distant horizon.

Early season events

Grading November tournaments, events

Every year, when we see the slate of games set for the annual 24-hour TV marathon that commences in the first week of college basketball, it’s a happy jolt toward the autumn that awaits us. ESPN has announced its cast for the annual 24-hour college hoops marathon.

The Champions Classic — Michigan State, Duke, Kentucky and Kansas, as always — again is the headliner, on Tuesday, Nov. 17. Kentucky-Duke gets the first game, at 7:30 p.m., and then Kansas-Michigan State will tip off around 10 p.m. ET. This year’s Champions Classic will be held at Chicago’s United Center.

Before I get to a quick rundown of the games I really like, here’s the schedule in full:

Date

Time (ET)

Game

Network

Mon. Nov. 16

5:30 p.m.

UConn at Ohio State (women)

ESPN2

7:30 p.m.

Virginia at George Washington

ESPN2

9 p.m.

Legends Classic: Kennesaw State at LSU

ESPNU

9:30 p.m.

San Diego State at Utah

ESPN2

11:30 p.m.

Baylor at Oregon

ESPN2

Tue. Nov 17

1:45 a.m.

BYU at Long Beach State

ESPN2

4 a.m.

Nevada at Hawaii

ESPN2

6 a.m.

Green Bay at East Tennessee State

ESPN2

8 a.m.

Stephen F. Austin at Northern Iowa

ESPN2

10 a.m.

Valparaiso at Rhode Island

ESPN2

1 p.m.

Alabama at Dayton

ESPN

3 p.m.

Colorado at Auburn

ESPN

5 p.m.

Oklahoma at Memphis

ESPN

7:30 p.m.

State Farm Champions Classic

(United Center, Chicago): Kentucky vs. Duke

ESPN

9 p.m.

Georgetown at Maryland

ESPN2

10 p.m.

State Farm Champions Classic

(United Center, Chicago): Kansas vs. Michigan State

ESPN

Having the UConn women spur the event is a good call, and at least — in theory — it should be a challenge with a true road game against a ranked team in Ohio State. (UConn’s lost like four games in seven years, but still.) Now, as for the men, Virginia at George Washington is a game Virginia can lose. GW will be an NCAA Tournament team next season, I think. And the 9 p.m. game on Monday, Nov. 16, doesn’t look sexy at first, but remember: This will be Ben Simmons’ national television college hoops debut. The LSU forward was the No. 1 recruit in the class of 2015.

From there, San Diego State-Utah is just a superb game. And Baylor-Oregon to close out the night could get very fun. For those eager to stay up late into the night, BYU is capable of falling at what should be a solid LBSU team this season. Not an auto win for the Cougs there.

The 8 a.m. Stephen F. Austin-Northern Iowa game is a return from last season, and in fact that SFA-UNI game was probably the best of the 2014 marathon. (A 79-77 OT decision that went to UNI.) The Valpo-Rhode Island 10 a.m. game features two teams that are favorites in their leagues, the Horizon and A-10, respectively. Valpo could win 30 this year.

Alabama-Dayton should be a relatively easy win for Archie Miller’s Flyers, and the Oklahoma-Memphis 5 p.m.game isn’t a wower, but that will be massive for Josh Pastner, as his team could go a number of ways this season.

Then we get to the long-awaited Georgetown-Maryland rivalry revival. It’s so great that this is back, largely because TV has made it so, but as others are lamenting: It’s a shame the game is squeezed between the main draw of the Champions Classic. Especially since Maryland is a preseason top-three team in the eyes of most, and Georgetown should be a single digit seed come March 2016.

With Kentucky-Duke, you get one of the most coveted tilts in college hoops, obviously, KU-MSU will have intrigue as well. November, please hurry.

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