The start of the college basketball season is almost here.
Teams began official practice in the past week, and opening night, Friday, Nov. 11, is close enough to begin pondering the tasty nonconference matchups in the early portion of the schedule.
Here are seven nonconference matchups that are certain appointment television:
Indiana at Kansas | Nov. 11 at 9 p.m.
Villanova at Purdue | Nov. 14 at 7 p.m.
Give the defending national champions respect for scheduling a road game against a stellar opponent early. The Wildcats have designs on a repeat because versatile forward Josh Hart and national title game hero Kris Jenkins return on the wing. The development of point guard Jalen Brunson will be a critical point to track for the Wildcats, who were 33-5 last season. Purdue returns giants Caleb Swanigan and Isaac Haas to form one of the nation’s strongest frontcourts. Coach Matt Painter also welcomes Spike Albrecht, a scrappy guard who made the Final Four All-Tournament team for Michigan in 2013.
San Diego State at Gonzaga | Nov. 14 at 11:59 p.m.
Oregon at Baylor | Nov. 15 at 12:30 p.m.
A day-glo eruption in high-definition, there’s substance to complement style in this matchup. The Ducks return four starters, including versatile forward Dillon Brooks, from an Elite 8 squad. Oregon is a legitimate national championship contender and relies on point guard Casey Benson, who led the nation with a 4.88 assist-turnover ratio last season. Baylor must replace first-round draft pick Taurean Price, but coach Scott Drew is never caught shorthanded in the talent department. Expect long, rangy 6-10 forward Jonathan Motley to fill the scoring and rebounding void. He shot 61 percent from the field last year and had a 114.0 offensive rating.
Michigan State vs. Kentucky | Nov. 15 at 7 p.m.
Duke vs. Kansas | Madison Square Garden | Nov. 15 at 9 p.m.
It’s Phoenix or bust for both these programs who meet in the Champions Classic nightcap. Duke, the likely preseason No. 1, might not have freshman forward Harry Giles, who underwent an arthroscopic knee procedure last week. But this season, Coach K has ample depth in the frontcourt. Giles’ absence should mean more minutes for freshman Marques Bolden, a 6-11 center with a soft touch. Kansas will miss elder statesman Perry Ellis and dynamic guard Wayne Selden, but guards Frank Mason and Devonte Graham are smooth operators when the ball is in their hands.
Clemson vs. Davidson | Orlando, Fla. | Nov. 17 at 11 a.m.