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

November 11, 2015 Columns No Comments

We continue our look at our favorite games for every day of the season, our ultimate dream road trip through an entire college basketball season.

To refresh: in some cases they’re the biggest matchup of the day, in others they may be what we think will be the best game. We started on Monday with November, continued with December on Tuesday, and today we move into January:

Jan. 1: UCLA at Washington. The Pac-12 stakes its claim to New Year’s Day with several intriguing matchups. Freshmen will be playing a lot for the Huskies, making this an even trickier opener for the Bruins. Honorable mention: Utah at Stanford

Jan. 2: Iowa State at Oklahoma. Early season big one in the Big 12 between two preseason top 10 teams, and two who weren’t afraid to go up and down in both meetings a year ago (OU won the first 94-83, ISU 77-70 in the second). Honorable mention: Michigan State at Minnesota.

Jan. 3: Oregon at Oregon State. Nothing like starting conference play off with your biggest rival. This will be one hot ticket, and will take on added significance for the Beavers as they search for their first NCAA tourney bid in 26 years. Honorable mention: Utah at California

Jan. 4: Oklahoma at Kansas. Back to the Big 12 again for the second time in three days. Pardon our nostalgia trips, but we’re always a sucker for old Big 8 games, but this is also two preseason top 10 squads. Honorable mention: North Carolina at Florida State

Jan. 5: Kentucky at LSU. On the 12th day of Christmas we get freshmen vs. freshman, or more specifically, Kentucky’s yearly replenishment against Ben Simmons-who has a pretty good class of first-years around him as well. You can only imagine how riled up Baton Rouge will be for this…unless the faithful are already in Arizona for a football game six days later. Honorable mention: Boise State at Utah State

Jan. 6: California at Oregon. It will be interesting to see how the freshmen at Cal play once they start hitting the road with regularity, as this is the time when some hot frosh start to come back to the pack. At least Ivan Rabb and Jaylen Brown have vets like Tyrone Wallace and Jabari Bird who have been through the wars before. Honorable mention: Cal Poly at Hawaii

Jan. 7: Cincinnati at SMU. First one to 50 might win as these two tough defensive teams go at it. Honorable mention: Arizona at UCLA

Jan. 8: Valparaiso at Oakland. Friday night has the two favorites in the Horizon League, with the defending champs and this year’s favorite on the road against the upstart challengers. Also the top two players in the HL in Alec Peters (Valpo) and Kahlil Felder (Oakland). Honorable mention: Western Michigan at Akron

Jan. 9: Northeastern at William & Mary. On a relatively light Saturday for marquee games, we go to the CAA and lovely Williamsburg, Va., for a rematch of last year’s tourney final. Both teams lost studs from last year’s squads (Scott Eatherton for the Huskies, Marcus Thornton for the Tribe) but otherwise are mostly intact, which should make for a good one. Honorable mention: Washington at Washington State

Jan. 10: Villanova at Butler. The Big East favorites hit the road to face one of their biggest challengers. These are the games that a team like the Wildcats, even if they’re in the top 10, should not be embarrassed at all about losing if they do. Honorable mention: Purdue at Illinois

Jan. 11: Bucknell at Lehigh. It’s a quiet night due to the college football playoff title game, so we check in on the Patriot League, where the Bison and Mountain Hawks are picked 1-2 in the preseason poll. You really should see Lehigh’s Tim Kempton if you get a chance. Honorable mention: Tennessee-Chattanooga at Wofford

Jan. 12: Kansas at West Virginia. The Mountaineers’ press will be 2-3 notches higher with the home advantage for this one. At the same time, these games are old hat for the Jayhawks. Honorable mention: Davidson at Dayton

Jan. 13: George Washington at Dayton. The Flyers are an Atlantic 10 favorite again, but the Colonials could surprise in the league. It also only takes 1-2 road wins like this for a team like GW to be in serious NCAA tourney contention. Honorable mention: Evansville at Illinois State

Jan. 14: UAB at Old Dominion. Perhaps the game of the year in Conference USA comes still early in the season and features two schools who are old Sun Belt rivals in the 1980s now reunited in C-USA. Honorable mention: BYU at Gonzaga

Jan. 15: Monmouth at Iona. A couple good ones on this Friday night. We’ll go for the clash of styles that is the Hawks’ toughness against the Gaels’ running game. Honorable mention: Evansville at Illinois State

Jan. 16: VCU at Richmond. A loaded schedule provides any number of picks. We’ll go with this increasingly heated city rivalry, which also served as a clash of styles in recent years (Havoc against the Spiders’ Princeton offense) and last year produced three outstanding games. Honorable mention: Villanova at Georgetown

Jan. 17: Michigan State at Wisconsin. Sundays are made for Big Ten games on CBS, where this one resides. Honorable mention: Michigan at Iowa

Jan. 18: Oklahoma at Iowa State. Also have this one earlier in the month, but this is an easy pick on this night. Honorable mention: Syracuse at Duke

Jan. 19: Dayton at St. Bonaventure. The Flyers have been on upset alert for this one from the day the schedules came out. Going to Olean, N.Y., to play the plucky Bonnies is always a tricky road trip for top teams, and even moreso in the middle of January. Honorable mention: Butler at Providence

Jan. 20: Wichita State at Northern Iowa. Can’t go wrong with this one. Two top 15 teams last year, and the Shockers will likely be there at this time again. This might be considered their toughest road test in the MVC. Honorable mention: Vanderbilt at Tennessee

Jan. 21: Gonzaga at St. Mary’s. The Gaels lost all five starters, so they may not be up to the 20+ win standard we’re used to, but McKeon Pavilion still will almost certainly be rocking for one of the best series in the West over the past 10 years. Honorable mention: Memphis at Cincinnati

Jan. 22: Albany at Stony Brook. Hard to pick against the Atlantic 10 game, but these two provided the signature moment of Championship Week last year, when Peter Hooley hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to send the Great Danes to the NCAAs. Honorable mention: Rhode Island at George Washington

Jan. 23: Georgetown at Connecticut. Loads of terrific games on this day, but it was fairly easy to narrow this to two, not so much to one. We go with this one, where the winner should have the inside track on the Big East title…oh wait. Honorable mention: Maryland at Michigan State

Jan. 24: Purdue at Iowa. One of those games that will determine if the Boilermakers are a 4-5 seed in March or an 8-10 seed, as well as whether the Hawkeyes will be in the NCAA tourney or NIT. Honorable mention: Utah at Washington

Jan. 25: Duke at Miami (Fla.). We all know by now how the Hurricanes give the Blue Devils fits every so often… Honorable mention: Kansas at Iowa State

Jan. 26: Indiana at Wisconsin. For college basketball fans from before the internet: remember when the Hoosiers used to regularly dominate the Badgers? IU hasn’t won in Madison in 18 years. Honorable mention: Xavier at Providence

Jan. 27: Tulsa at Houston. Should Kelvin Sampson have the Cougars on track as a surprise contender in the AAC, this could be one of the biggest games in years at Hofheinz Pavilion. Honorable mention: Boise State at UNLV

Jan. 28: Michigan State at Northwestern. Should Chris Collins have the Wildcats on track as a surprise contender in the Big Ten, this could be one of the biggest games in years at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Honorable mention: Oregon at Arizona

Jan. 29: Manhattan at Iona. First of two between the two standard bearers in the MAAC-the Jaspers and Gaels have combined for the last three league titles. It’s even caught some of New York’s attention. Honorable mention: VCU at Davidson

Jan. 30: Kentucky at Kansas in Big 12/SEC Challenge. Huge non-conference game in the heart of conference season. Love it. A great idea to move this event to the end of January, college basketball needs a little more of this. Honorable mention: Vanderbilt at Texas

Jan. 31: Wichita State at Evansville. Another very tough road trip for the Shockers in MVC play. The Purple Aces have a chance to be really good; if they are, this could be the game of the year in the Valley. Honorable mention: Lehigh at Boston University

Other game of the day picks:

Twitter: @HoopvilleAdam

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