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

November 12, 2015 Columns No Comments

We conclude our look at our favorite games for every day of the season from November through February, 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 to watch. Some days the picks are obvious, others they are no doubt up for debate, but we limited it to one pick and one special mention each day. We started this on Monday with November, continued with December on Tuesday, January and Wednesday, and today we finish with February:

Feb. 1: North Carolina at Louisville. Besides the obvious skill of these teams, it’s always a sweet pairing of the Tar Heels’ running and the Cardinals’ pressure defense. Honorable mention: SMU at Houston

Feb. 2: LSU at Auburn. Both Tigers will be fascinating to watch this year-LSU obviously because it has the touted freshman Ben Simmons, and Auburn because we’re waiting for the seemingly inevitable Bruce Pearl bump. Honorable mention: Georgetown at Butler

Feb. 3: Davidson at George Washington. The top of the A-10 is set to be a lot of fun this year. Again. Plenty of opportunities for quality wins in league play for both of these teams. Honorable mention: Notre Dame at Miami (Fla.)

Feb. 4: Texas A&M at Vanderbilt. Some good games tonight. We’ll go to the lovably quirky Memorial Gym, where both of these teams should be in the thick of NCAA Tournament conversation. Honorable mention: Tulsa at Temple

Feb. 5: Harvard at Princeton. Friday nights in February mean the first night of Ivy League weekend back-to-backs. One enters the year with experience (Princeton), the other does not (Harvard), but it still wouldn’t be a stunner if these two met in a one-game playoff at the end of the year. Honorable mention: Columbia at Yale

Feb. 6: Michigan State at Michigan. A loaded schedule this day with any number of games to pick, including a number of teams that should be highly ranked who will have difficult road tests. (See: Iowa State, Villanova, Virginia, Wichita State, etc.) If you can only have one, though, you can’t go wrong with the battle for Michigan. Honorable mention: North Carolina at Notre Dame

Feb. 7: Utah at Oregon. Super Bowl Sunday still provides us some good college hoops. Not sure if the Ducks have an answer for Jakob Poeltl here, but the Utes also will have to deal with Oregon’s slippery mid-sized slashers. Honorable mention: Hofstra at James Madison

Feb. 8: Northwestern State at Stephen F. Austin. Louisville-Duke and Texas-Oklahoma are the powerhouse matchups, but these should be the top two teams in the Southland and also are two of the most entertaining teams you’ll find anywhere. The Demons have high-scoring Jalan West and Zeek Woodley; SFA has Thomas Walkup, motion offense, denial defense and two straight years of smashing success. This matchup is a true hidden gem. Honorable mention: Louisville at Duke

Feb. 9: Michigan State at Purdue. Back to the Big Ten again, as on a night with a lot of pretty good games, this one stands out. With two bruising frontlines, this should epitomize everything one has thought of Big Ten basketball for decades. Honorable mention: Mississippi at Florida

Feb. 10: Tulsa at SMU. The AAC is a really strange mix of schools that may not last long term. If one gets by the geography, though, there are consistently good matchups every single week of conference play, such as this one. Honorable mention: Lehigh at Bucknell

Feb. 11: Connecticut at Temple. See above. Honorable mention: Hawaii at UC Irvine

Feb. 12: UCLA at Arizona. When it comes to combining two powerful programs with tradition, this is still the premier series in the West, and don’t see that changing anytime soon. Honorable mention: Dayton at Rhode Island

Feb. 13: Virginia at Duke. Slim as the odds already were of it happening with a Mike Krzyzewski team, the ACC schedule makers insured there is absolutely no chance the Blue Devils are looking ahead in their game before playing a certain rival. Honorable mention: Northern Iowa at Wichita State

Feb. 14: Miami (Fla.) at Florida State. Both are expected to be improved this year, and could very well be fighting each other for an NCAA tourney spot by this point of the season. Honorable mention: Minnesota at Iowa

Feb. 15: LIU at St. Francis (N.Y.). Squeeze in for the Battle for Brooklyn between two schools so close that the teams can walk from one campus to another. Honorable mention: Wisconsin-Milwaukee at Wisconsin-Green Bay

Feb. 16: Florida at Georgia. Lot of appealing games on this Tuesday, including another famously football-themed one (Michigan at Ohio State). Don’t write off either of these teams as NCAA tourney contenders this year. Honorable mention: Iowa State at Baylor

Feb. 17: Duke at North Carolina. No matter how much the TV-led hype for this series gets tiring, it’s amazing-and part of what makes this sport great-how the games between these two always deliver. Honorable mention: Villanova at Temple

Feb. 18: NJIT at North Florida. Hardly rivals, but may be the two best teams in the Atlantic Sun this year. The Ospreys are defending champs, while the Highlanders are good, experienced and motivated with their first chance at an automatic bid to the NCAAs. Honorable mention: Utah at UCLA

Feb. 19: Richmond at VCU. Second meeting of this fierce series, worthy of its Friday night national audience. Honorable mention: Iona at Monmouth

Feb. 20: Purdue at Indiana. We may be on the verge of this returning to its rightful place as one of the sport’s best rivalries. Interesting contrast in these programs now between the Boilermakers’ size and the Hoosiers’ guards and speed. Honorable mention: Kentucky at Texas A&M

Feb. 21: Lafayette at Lehigh. The 223rd renewal in this ancient rivalry, and could certainly have conference tournament seeding implications in the balanced Patriot League. Honorable mention: Michigan at Maryland

Feb. 22: Iowa State at West Virginia. Beware, Cyclones, the road trip to Morgantown. Honorable mention: Virginia at Miami (Fla.)

Feb. 23: Rhode Island at Davidson. On paper this is one of the games of the year in the Atlantic 10, with the Wildcats’ fluid offense against a typically strong Hurley family defense. Great matchup at the guard spots with Jack Gibbs against E.C. Matthews. Honorable mention: Temple at Tulsa

Feb. 24: Long Beach State at UC Irvine. The Black and Blue Rivalry Series is one not many know about, but their game played at the Bren Events Center was one of the best ones we watched on TV in the entire 2014-15 season. Two consistently solid teams in recent years. Honorable mention: North Carolina at N.C. State

Feb. 25: North Dakota State at South Dakota State. These two from neighboring states have established themselves as the tops in the Summit League and played a dandy tourney final in March. Honorable mention: Niagara at Canisius in the latest installment of a long-time Buffalo area tradition

Feb. 26: Harvard at Yale. A small-but-meaty Friday night schedule which also includes Iona-Manhattan and the growing Detroit-Oakland rivalry. Our pick is the game between the two ancient rivals that could certainly again have Ivy League title implications. Honorable mention: Detroit at Oakland

Feb. 27: North Carolina at Virginia. Are these two potential Final Four teams, or two squads set up to again disappoint in March? Honorable mention: Gonzaga at BYU

Feb. 28: Arizona State at Colorado. This could be two Pac-12 also-rans, or two teams surprisingly in the NCAA tourney picture. Honorable mention: Michigan at Wisconsin

Feb. 29: Kansas at Texas. Curious to see where Shaka Smart has the Longhorns at this late in his first season, if the Longhorns have worn down-or if they’re ready for a nice postseason run. Honorable mention: Alabama State at Texas Southern

Other game of the day picks:

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