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A game a day for the 2016-17 season: December

November 8, 2016 Columns No Comments

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

We started yesterday with November, and today we continue with December:

Dec. 1: Stephen F. Austin at Arkansas. With a new coach, no Thomas Walkup and a number of others gone too, the Lumberjacks are not the same team as they were the past few years, but SFA has no fear in games like this. Honorable mention: Cincinnati at Iowa State

Dec. 2: Alabama at Texas. The Crimson Tide was one of the pluckiest teams all of last year, and we’re curious to see if Avery Johnson can get another team to overachieve, at least in comparison to outer expectations. Also would be a great football matchup. Honorable mention: Iona at St. Peter’s

Dec. 3: West Virginia at Virginia. On a day with a great schedule, you can’t beat this one for contrast in styles. WVU’s press against the pack line defense will be a terrific tug-of-war to see who can impose their will. Honorable mention: UCLA at Kentucky

Dec. 4: Marquette at Georgia. Is this an NCAA Tournament play-in game in December? Not officially, but it certainly could be in March. Honorable mention: Florida State vs. George Washington in BB&T Classic

Dec. 5: Connecticut vs. Syracuse from Madison Square Garden. These two will forever belong in the same conference, playing games like this at this venue in March, but in the meantime we’ll enjoy this stroll down memory lane. Terrific piece of scheduling. Honorable mention: Nebraska-Omaha at Iowa State

Dec. 6: La Salle vs. Villanova from the Palestra. Philadelphia Big 5 basketball is all that needs to be said, but this also could be a pretty good game if the Explorers are as improved as some are expecting. Honorable mention: Old Dominion at Rhode Island

Dec. 7: Buffalo at Pittsburgh. On a night with quite a few good ones, we’ll go here. The Bulls are a tough, tested team after playing in the last two NCAA Tournaments and they won’t fear the environment, which should make this a really good game. Honorable mention: Iona at Fairleigh Dickinson, where both teams could well score in the 100s

Dec. 8: Iowa State at Iowa. Another rivalry game, one that literally engages almost the entire hearty state of Iowa, and it seems to go down to the wire every year. Honorable mention: Vanderbilt at Middle Tennessee State, and a special mention for Texas-Arlington at Saint Mary’s

Dec. 9: Siena at Florida Gulf Coast. On a very light night, there is a good matchup here with a lot of quality in both frontcourts. The Saints’ guards may be the difference, or maybe FGCU’s home court is the deciding factor. Honorable mention: Georgia Southern at Minnesota

Dec. 10: Wisconsin at Marquette. An in-state game that has grown in stature over the years. Marquette won in Madison a year ago and now gets the Badgers at home. Honorable mention: UNC Wilmington at St. Bonaventure

Dec. 11: Mississippi at Virginia Tech. Still NFL season, but a solid matchup in the morning, and also the type of road game Andy Kennedy’s teams seem to often surprise in. Honorable mention: St. John’s vs. LIU-points for two historic city programs getting together

Dec. 12: South Carolina vs. Seton Hall from Madison Square Garden in something called the Under Armour Renunion. South Carolina’s tenacious denial defense goes against the Pirates’ sturdy frontline. The type of game the Gamecocks could’ve used on their non-conference schedule last year. Honorable mention: Pennsylvania at Central Florida

Dec. 13: Monmouth at Memphis. The Hawks will be a team watched closely all year, and they well may be the favorite in this game. Honorable mention: Stony Brook at Hofstra-good to see these two Long Island rivals playing regularly again, and the last two meetings have been decided by a combined four points

Dec. 14: Middle Tennessee State at Belmont. Two highly underrated, well-coached programs. MTSU won comfortably at home last year, but expecting this one to be much closer. Honorable mention: East Tennessee State at Mississippi State

Dec. 15: Murray State at Mississippi. The Racers may not have the frontcourt to match Ole Miss, but their backcourt is good enough to pull this one off. Honorable mention: Coastal Carolina at Auburn in the Cliff Ellis Bowl

Dec. 16: North Dakota State at North Dakota. Already a heated, long-running rivalry, this one gets another shot in the arm this year as both can reasonably set the NCAA Tournament as the goal in their respective conferences. Honorable mention: Long Beach State vs. Oregon State from Portland, Ore.

Dec. 17: Purdue vs. Notre Dame, Butler vs. Indiana in Crossroads Classic, Indianapolis. Great to see these four teams continuing this yearly doubleheader. Very well could see all four in the NCAA Tournament again this year. Honorable mention: Iowa vs. Northern Iowa in Des Moines

Dec. 18: Gonzaga at Tennessee. The Bulldogs should win this, but it’s a long trip for them, and they’ll also be playing for the first time in eight days. Honorable mention: Clemson vs. Alabama from Birmingham

Dec. 19: Stanford at SMU. A lot of games this day, not many notable ones. This would be a valuable road win for the team and the Pac-12 if the Cardinal could pull it off. Honorable mention: Eastern Michigan at Syracuse

Dec. 20: Princeton at Monmouth. Terrific non-conference matchup. Both of these teams could see the top 25 at some point this year. Honorable mention: Creighton at Arizona State

Dec. 21: Kentucky at Louisville. Always a worthwhile watch, this one is gaining ground as one of the top rivalries nationally, not just locally. Honorable mention: Missouri vs. Illinois

Dec. 22: Tennessee at East Tennessee State. The Vols are on the road against an in-state foe outside their “power” tier? Yes, this is the final game of a three-game deal that started with two in Knoxville. The Buccaneers are poised to take advantage of their home opportunity. Honorable mention: George Washington at Miami (Fla.)

Dec. 23: Georgia at Oakland. Credit Mark Fox for playing this one, too. The Bulldogs’ Yante Maten against the Golden Grizzlies’ Jalen Hayes is a great frontcourt matchup. Honorable mention: Harvard at Houston

Dec. 24: Christmas Eve, and all’s quiet in college basketball with not a single game scheduled.

Dec. 25: Diamond Head Classic final. Merry Christmas. The final games in this event are also the only games today. Fun fact: four former members of the Western Athletic Conference are in this event, and the final could be a championship game between San Diego State and Utah, Hawaii or Illinois State.

Dec. 26: Morgan State at Loyola Marymount. Just one game on the schedule the day after Christmas, as the Lions host the Bears. Todd Bozeman returns to the state where he once coached at California, and his team here begins a two-game trip on the west coast.

Dec. 27: Michigan State at Minnesota. Big Ten play opens this day-too early, but we’ll pick this as the most attractive matchup, with the Spartans on the road in The Barn against a Golden Gophers team that few know what to expect of this year. Minnesota returns little that would inspire big expectations, but it’s hard to imagine a season as bad as 2015-16. Honorable mention: Kent State at Texas

Dec. 28: UCLA at Oregon. A win isn’t expected, but if the Bruins are going to challenge for the Pac-12 title we should get a good clue of it here. Honorable mention: Monmouth at North Carolina

Dec. 29: Florida at Arkansas. SEC play opens today, and this is the best game. Both of these teams will be looking to rise above the mediocrity that has been so prevalent in this conference in recent years. Honorable mention: William & Mary at Old Dominion in a good matchup of former CAA rivals

Dec. 30: South Carolina at Memphis. Two former Metro Conference rivals who have not forgotten those days, as these teams played a spirited, heated game last year in Columbia. Honorable mention: West Virginia at Oklahoma State, as the Mountaineers meet the coach whose Stephen F. Austin team knocked them out of the NCAAs last year

Dec. 31: Villanova at Creighton. It may be New Year’s Eve, but since it falls on a Saturday this year it’s a very busy day for college basketball. We’ll go with this one. The Bluejays open Big East play with Seton Hall at home and then host the defending national champions in front of what no doubt will be a sellout in Omaha. We’ll find out a lot about if CU is a contender in the conference by the new year. Honorable mention: Xavier at Georgetown

Other game of the day picks:
November

Twitter: @HoopvilleAdam
E-mail: hoopvilleadam@yahoo.com

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