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A game a day for the 2015-16 season: December

November 10, 2015 Columns No Comments

Continuing our look at our favorite games for every day of the season, our ultimate dream road trip, if you will.

We started on Monday with November, and today we continue with December:

Dec. 1: Maryland at North Carolina. We’re not one to get into the hypefest aspect of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, but this is a pretty easy pick. No. 1 and No. 3 in the AP preseason poll, former ACC rivals, etc. One of the best games of the year. This should be fun, and will only reinforce how much we think the Terrapins really should still be an ACC school. Honorable mention: Villanova at St. Joseph’s

Dec. 2: BYU at Utah. The ACC/Big Ten Challenge will get the hype again this day, but our pick is one of the fiercest rivalries in the country, of the throw-out-the-record-books type. In our book, that trumps TV matchmaking. Honorable mention: Louisville at Michigan State

Dec. 3: Kentucky at UCLA. Interesting that these two are meeting during the week-usually this would be played on a Saturday afternoon on CBS. A good early gauge for young players on both teams. Honorable mention: Belmont at Valparaiso

Dec. 4: Oregon at UNLV. A prime opportunity for a good win for both. If the Runnin’ Rebels have a good Maui Invite performance, this takes on even more importance. Honorable mention: St. Joseph’s at Columbia

Dec. 5: Arizona at Gonzaga. Rematch of one of the best games of last year, and also a rare chance for the Bulldogs to play a top team at the McCarthey Center. Honorable mention: Syracuse at Georgetown

Dec. 6: Davidson at North Carolina. Marcus Paige should be back by now. The Wildcats rarely win these in-state games against UNC and Duke, but they almost always give both teams a hard time. Honorable mention: Vanderbilt at Baylor

Dec. 7: Oklahoma vs. Villanova in Hawaii. Just a really, really good matchup. Honorable mention: Belmont at Lipscomb, in the Battle of the Boulevard

Dec. 8: West Virginia vs. Virginia in Jimmy V Classic. This is a 1990 flashback, a classic contrast of styles, and at Madison Square Garden. Honorable mention: Maryland vs. Connecticut, also in Jimmy V Classic

Dec. 9: Dayton at Vanderbilt. Will be interesting to see how the Commodores play this year as a favorite, especially here against a team that has been through a lot of wars the last two years. Honorable mention: Nebraska at Creighton

Dec. 10: Iowa at Iowa State. Already a fierce in-state rivalry, but when both teams are good, there are few peers for this series. Honorable mention: Washington State at Idaho

Dec. 11: North Dakota State at North Dakota. Keep heading north for another terrific in-state series. The 289th meeting between the Bison and the school without a nickname formerly known as the Sioux will have the attention of an entire state. Honorable mention: Eastern Washington at Pittsburgh

Dec. 12: Utah at Wichita State/Cincinnati at Xavier. EDIT: Not sure how we missed it when combing through these schedules, but didn’t originally include the Crosstown Shootout (though guess it’s technically the Crosstown ‘Classic’ now). Big mistake. For our money, there is no more intense series in the sport, and this one belongs in the top three on any list of the best rivalries in college basketball. As for Utah and Wichita State, these two played a good one last year in Salt Lake City, and this one should feature nothing less as the Shockers get a return game. Honorable mention: Oregon State at Kansas

Dec. 13: Loyola (Ill.) at Notre Dame. Two Catholic schools not far apart who somewhat surprisingly haven’t met that regularly, not even when ND was an independent. First meeting in 15 years, and this may be Loyola’s best team since 1985 squad that made Sweet 16. Honorable mention: LSU at Houston

Dec. 14: Coastal Carolina at Wofford. Firmly in finals week for many schools so the schedule is light, but both of these schools were in NCAA Tournament last year, and could be again this year. Honorable mention: Robert Morris at Columbia

Dec. 15: Louisiana-Lafayette at UCLA. Let’s see how the Ragin’ Cajuns and Shawn Long do at Pauley Pavilion. Honorable mention: UC Irvine at Oregon

Dec. 16: Old Dominion at Richmond. Beyond Virginia and VCU, Virginia is a very underrated basketball state with some fierce games. These are former CAA rivals, and a win here will come in big if either is on the bubble in March. Honorable mention: Mississippi State at Florida State

Dec. 17: Marshall at West Virginia. Another in-state series. The Thundering Herd went 11-21 last year, so the Mountaineers should dominate, right? Not so fast-WVU beat Marshall by only three a year ago. Honorable mention: Cal Poly at USC

Dec. 18: Central Michigan at BYU. First one to 100 wins in this slick bit of scheduling that features two high-scoring teams who are unabashed shooters of the triple. Honorable mention: Mississippi at Memphis

Dec. 19: Villanova at Virginia. An Elite Eight-quality game in December just before Christmas (though the cynic might point out both did not get nearly as close to that level as expected in March the last two years). Still, this is good, good stuff. Honorable mention: Indiana vs. Notre Dame and Butler vs. Purdue in the Crossroads Classic

Dec. 20: Pittsburgh vs. Davidson in Madison Square Garden. The brawny Panthers against the well-versed Wildcats is the type of very nice intersectional matchups that captures the essence of MSG college basketball. Honorable mention: Evansville at Fresno State

Dec. 21: Pepperdine at Gonzaga. Remember about 15 years ago when meetings between these two were some of the best in the west? We’re getting back there again-the Waves are on their way back under Monty Wilson. Honorable mention: Akron vs. UC Santa Barbara

Dec. 22: Iowa State at Cincinnati. Lots of ways to go this day, but this one again furnishes a classic clash of styles between the quick-paced Cyclones and the gritty Bearcats. Honorable mention: Kansas at San Diego State

Dec. 23: Diamond Head Classic semifinals. Quietly a very good field, and if semis are Auburn vs. BYU and Oklahoma against Northern Iowa it’s not inconceivable that all four could be in the NCAA Tournament. Don’t forget host school Hawaii, either, which is good enough to knock some teams off here. Honorable mention: Missouri vs. Illinois

Dec. 24: Christmas Eve, and all is calm with not a single game on the schedule.

Dec. 25: Diamond Head Classic final. Merry Christmas. In part this is the pick because the final four games of this are the only games of the day, but this tourney should provide a worthy championship game.

Dec. 26: Louisville at Kentucky. The only game of the day. You can’t put together a much better showcase for a game than this.

Dec. 27: Middle Tennessee State at South Dakota State. Very light schedule, but if looking for best teams playing the most competitive game, the defense-minded Blue Raiders against the Jackrabbits’ excellent backcourt is it. Honorable mention: Texas Southern at Syracuse

Dec. 28: Davidson at California. Sweet matchup of the Wildcats’ shooters against the Golden Bears’ freshmen. Quality win available for either team. Honorable mention: Valparaiso at Belmont, Part II

Dec. 29: Purdue at Wisconsin. It feels a little early for Big Ten games yet, but here we are. We’re high on the Boilermakers this year, and this is an opportunity for a real springboard in conference play. Honorable mention: UAB at Stephen F. Austin

Dec. 30: Oakland at Virginia. A day with a lot of heavy hitters in action, but few playing each other, so we’ll go off the grid. The Golden Grizzlies have an electric guard in Kahlil Felder and could catch the Cavaliers napping just before New Year’s. Honorable mention: Syracuse at Pittsburgh

Dec. 31: Providence at Butler. This day belongs to the Big East, even as it won’t have the all-day New Year’s Eve marathon that it did the last two years. Honorable mention: Xavier at Villanova

Other game of the day picks:

Twitter: @HoopvilleAdam

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