By Paul Seaver (TheArenaPulse)
Friday, Nov. 11 marks the opening day of the college basketball season for much of the nation.
This past Monday marked the official start of the college basketball season, as participants from the 2k Sports Coaches vs. Cancer Classic showcased some early, regular season action.
Let’s take a look at five games you don’t want to miss on Friday night:
5. Stony Brook at Indiana, 7:00pm ET
The match-up might not seem all that intriguing, especially given its in Indiana. However, Stony Brook has high expectations in the America East Conference this season. The most interesting part of tonight’s match-up between these two is the Hoosiers themselves. Head coach Tom Crean might finally have the talent to threaten in the upper half of the Big Ten Conference. Highly-touted freshman Cody Zeller will make his collegiate debut, as returnees Christian Watford and Verdell Jones look to help the Hoosiers start the 2011-12 season off with a bang.
4. Oregon at Vanderbilt, 10:00pm ET
Oregon enters the 2011-12 season with the goal of threatening in the upper half of the Pac-12. Eligible transfers Tony Woods (Wake Forest) and Olu Ashaolu (Louisiana Tech) join E.J. Singler, while highly-touted freshman Jabari Brown looks to provide the Ducks with an instant impact. However, Vanderbilt is in uncharted waters, as head coach Kevin Stallings‘ group enters the season with extremely high expectations. John Jenkins enters the season as one of the top shooters in the country, as the Ducks and Commodores square off in Nashville, Tennessee.
3. Columbia at UConn, 7:00pm ET
UConn enters the 2011-12 season as the defending National Champions. Kemba Walker is gone, but the Huskies should have no trouble winning tonight and making another run at the title. The interesting part in tonight’s match-up will simply be the unveiling of the Huskies’ 2011 National Championship banner. Head coach Jim Calhoun and UConn will battle Columbia on ESPNU, as much of the nation will have its first opportunity to see the defending champs move forward without their star guard.
2. Belmont at Duke, 9:00pm ET
It’s probably premature to call an upset here, especially when this game is being played at Cameron Indoor. However, Belmont won 30 games last season, while also earning a bid to the NCAA Tournament. Much of the Bruins’ contributors are back, so Belmont has high expectations and a great opportunity to showcase their talent on ESPNU. The highly-anticipated freshman debut of Austin Rivers is enough for fans to tune in, while head coach Mike Krzyzewski looks to move within one victory of Bob Knight for the most all-time.
1. Michigan State vs. North Carolina, 7:00pm ET
Michigan State and North Carolina is by far the most highly-anticipated match-up of the night. Not only does this game showcase a pair of top programs, but North Carolina enters the season with National Championship implications and the No. 1 overall ranking. Everything aside, the MSU-UNC match-up on Veterans Day will be played upon the U.S.S. Carl Vinson as part of the first-annual Carrier Classic. The 7,000-seat constructed court was completed in nine days and will mark the first basketball game to ever be played on an aircraft carrier.
*Photo: Carrier Classic *Credit: seattlepi.com
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