NCAA Basketball

ESPN 24-Hour Marathon: College Basketball Schedule Announced

It may be just July, but it’s never too early to start thinking about college basketball. The season schedules for program’s across the country are beginning to roll in, and it looks like it’s going to be another fantastic season. The defending national champion Kentucky Wildcats are loaded with youth once again under head coach John Calipari. They will be part of the 2012 Marathon Classic, by ESPN –  that takes place on Tuesday November 13th. ESPN announced it’s schedule, and here is what it will look like:

12am EST:
West Virginia
@ Gonzaga

2:00am EST:
Davidson @New Mexico

4:00am EST:
Houston Baptist
@Hawaii

6:00am EST:
Stony Brook @ Rider

8:00am EST:
Northern Illinois @Valparaiso

10:00am EST:
Harvard @ UMass

12:00pm EST:
Temple@KentState

2:00pm EST:
Detroit @St. John’s

4:00pm EST:
Butler @ Xavier

7:00pm EST:
MichiganState vs.Kansas – in Atlanta

10:00pm EST:
Duke vs. Kentucky
– in Atlanta

These are some fantastic games on the docket. The first game
provides two teams that are perennially a top 25 program. The Mountaineers,
under Bob Huggins against the West Coast power of Gonzaga should be a great way
to kick the marathon off. These two teams played in the NCAA tournament in
March of 2012.

Davidson and New Mexico are two more teams that basketball fans
recognize as a fringe tournament team. The Lobo’s under Steve Alford look to
once again be at the top of the Mountain West Conference. Davidson has turned
it self into a smaller/East Coast version of Gonzaga. The fun part of this game
will be seeing a midnight game(local time) at the Pit.

The next three games are great showcase games for those teams. Houston Baptist and Hawaii have the advantage here – they are playing in Hawaii when the rest of the United States is starting to grip for winter. Northern Illinois and Valparaiso in the heart of the Midwest will be tipping it off as folks get ready to sit down at their desk for work.

The 10am game features a UMass team that is a legit contender to win the Atlantic 10 this season. Harvard has continued to show their ability to contend, and will certainly play a smart brand of basketball. For those that are looking for fundamental play –
tune into the Crimson as you are getting ready for a little early lunch.

Another A-10 team in Temple will get a tough early season road test. Kent State,
out of the MAC will certainly not be a walk-over. The tough environment will be interesting to see. The question here – will Kent State students be allowed to skip classes to see their hoops team play?

Detroit may have the best player you will see in this 24 hour span. Ray McCallum Jr. is the real deal. He can score, he can pass, he can rebound and he can create.
It’s interesting to see how high his stock will go this season. They will be out east and take on St. John’s at 2pm.

Butler and Xavier is a fun game to watch. These two teams have been marquee March programs the last several seasons. Butler is heading to the Atlantic 10; so this is actually the first of two games between these two Midwestern rivals.

Then we get to the meat of the schedule. The first game at the Champions
Classic features Tom Izzo and his Michigan State Spartans against the defending runner up from a season ago – Kansas Jayhawks. Michigan State will be taking on Kansas just four days after their game against Connecticut, in Germany. This is not something Coach Izzo’s squad is not used to. Last year Michigan State played in
San Diego and then in New York City four days later. That shows that Tom is not afraid of his boys playing anywhere.

The final game is an instant classic already. Duke v. Kentucky. This rivalry runs back to 1992 with Christian Laettner hitting the game winning shot over the Wildcats.  Despite the big rivalry, these two teams have not met on the court since 2001. In that season, Duke won a 95-92 game in overtime behind Carlos Boozer and Chris Duhon.

This should be a great 24 hour span of basketball. The hoops season can not come soon enough. We cannot wait for the Marathon Classic, and ALL the college basketball this coming season! Can we just skip early fall?