Tuesday is one of the most impactful days of the entire college basketball season. Four of college basketball's premier programs – Connecticut, Syracuse, Villanova and Gonzaga – will play in a doubleheader at New York City's Madison Square Garden in the Jimmy V Classic – the "why" behind the matchups that will leave a lasting impact upon the lives of many.
Inspired by former North Carolina State basketball coach and ESPN commentator Jim Valvano and his fight against cancer, the V Foundation for Cancer Research was created in 1993 and the Jimmy V Classic began in 1995. This is the 11th annual Jimmy V Week for Cancer Research, a weeklong ESPN initiative to raise money for cancer research.
In the first nine years, ESPN raised $13.7 million for cancer research. The V Foundation has raised more than $170 million in cancer research grants, according to the Jimmy V Classic's website.
The Champions Classic marks the kickoff for the college basketball season for many fans and the NCAA tournament is obviously the pinnacle of the sport, but the Jimmy V Classic uses its platform for a cause that's bigger than college basketball. To learn more about the V Foundation or to donate, you can visit www.jimmyv.org.
This year's Jimmy V Classic matchups are No. 4 Villanova vs. No. 12 Gonzaga and UConn vs. Syrcause. The four teams are a combined 27-4 to start the season and the first game of the night should be excellent. Villanova and Gonzaga have both played in a national championship game in the last two seasons and have continued their past success into the start of this season, earning top-15 rankings in the latest AP Top 25 Poll.
This is UConn's third appearance in the Jimmy V Classic. The Huskies were on the losing end of games against N.C. State in 2012 and Maryland in 2015.
Syracuse has played in the Jimmy V Classic three times: a win over Michigan State in 2010 and losses against Oklahoma State in 2004 and 2006.
Villanova is 1-2 in the event, beating Illinois in 2014 and losing to Missouri in 2011 and Texas in 2008.
Gonzaga last played in the Jimmy V Classic in 2002, when the Bulldogs beat N.C. State.