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A game a day for the 2017-18 season: December

November 7, 2017 Columns No Comments

Continuing a look at our favorite games for every day of the 2017-18 college basketball season. We started yesterday with November, and today we continue with December:

Dec. 1: Pittsburgh at Duquesne. This city matchup will take on a little more urgency this year after the Dukes knocked off Pitt a year ago to end a 15-game losing streak in the series. Honorable mention: Purdue at Maryland in Big Ten games…on Dec. 1?

Dec. 2: Cincinnati at Xavier. On a day with several really appealing. if maybe less unsung matchups (Wichita State/Baylor; Colorado/Colorado State; Vermont/Bucknell; Princeton/Miami [Fla.]; USC/SMU), the headliner is still easily one of the very best rivalries in the sport going on three decades now. Honorable mention: Providence at Rhode Island

Dec. 3: Purdue at Northwestern. The Boilermakers continue a stretch of very big games, very early in the season. Honorable mention: Alabama at Central Florida

Dec. 4: Florida State at Florida. Hard to believe a rivalry between an ACC and SEC team could be underrated, but this one might be. FSU is one of the great mystery teams entering this season, while the Gators have an outstanding backcourt worth watching all year in Kevaughn Allen and Chris Chiozza. Honorable mention: Belmont at Lipscomb, Round 2

Dec. 5: Virginia at West Virginia. This Tuesday night schedule is lighter but full of interesting games, none more than this classic contrast of styles. Honorable mention: SMU at TCU

Dec. 6: Georgia Tech at Wofford. The Terriers also open their new arena with South Carolina at home. Chances for a program like Wofford to host SEC or ACC teams are few. When they do, the atmosphere is usually hopping. Honorable mention: Middle Tennessee State at Vanderbilt, where the Commodores look for revenge after the homestanding Blue Raiders pummeled them a year ago

Dec. 7: Iowa at Iowa State. A rivalry not as nationally prominent as some others, can attest from once living in the state for five years that it is as heated as any, and you can truly throw out the record books when these two play. Honorable mention: Texas-Arlington at Northern Iowa-on a light night with just 12 games, there’s two good ones in Iowa

Dec. 8: Nevada vs. TCU from Los Angeles. On a very quiet Friday night, we’ll go with this one between two up-and-coming programs on a neutral court as part of a tripleheader. Honorable mention: Oklahoma vs. USC, also as part of the Basketball Hall of Fame Classic…three time zones away from the actual Basketball Hall of Fame

Dec. 9: Albany at Siena. On a solid Saturday schedule with several high profile games, we choose this one, which regularly draws rabid crowds in Upstate New York and has featured plenty of quality chirping between the two schools’ coaches. TV networks, here’s a tip: if you’re looking for entertainment value, start showing this game. You won’t be disappointed. Honorable mention: UCLA at Michigan

Dec. 10: Eastern Washington at South Dakota. A Sunday with way too many teams playing non-Division I opponents-ugh. For entertainment value, though, you could do a lot worse than these two teams, with a pair of scoring machines in EWU’s Bogdan Bliznyuk and the Coyotes’ Matt Mooney. Honorable mention: Gonzaga at Washington

Dec. 11: Siena at Vermont. Slim pickings on this Monday night when many schools partake in final exams, so we go with these former ECAC North Atlantic (a.k.a. America East now) foes. Honorable mention: Drake at Minnesota…yes, it’s a quiet night

Dec. 12: Jacksonville State at Oregon State. On another rather light schedule, let’s head out west. The Beavers should be improved, and they get a good test here against a JSU team that made the NCAA Tournament last year and has the size to outplay OSU inside. Honorable mention: Monmouth at Princeton

Dec. 13: Villanova at Temple. We like both games on this date, but a tie goes to the Philadelphia Big 5. Always. This is a big home chance for the Owls, too. Honorable mention: Grand Canyon at Boise State

Dec. 14: Valparaiso at Northwestern. Very little to recommend this night, but the Crusaders at least get a shot at a Big Ten team. Funny how these conferences are glad to schedule a team like Valpo once a star like Alec Peters has used up his eligibility. Honorable mention: Santa Clara at USC

Dec. 15: South Dakota State at Colorado. Let’s see how many Mike Daum can put up against the Buffaloes on the road. This is a winnable game for the Jackrabbits, though the Buffs’ size-eight players 6-foot-7 or taller-will be an issue. Honorable mention: Denver at Stanford

Dec. 16: Crossroads Classic with Purdue vs. Butler, Indiana vs. Notre Dame. Non-conference doubleheaders are good. Basketball in Indiana is good. And any time these four face off against one another is a good thing. This is a great way to spend a Saturday. Honorable mention: Utah at BYU, as the Holy War is back after a Larry Krystkowiak-imposed year’s hiatus

Dec. 17: Texas State at Colorado State. Quietly a good game between teams with two excellent coaches. Danny Kaspar has made the Bobcats a factor in a good Sun Belt, while Larry Eustachy always has CSU a tough out. Both teams are mixing a lot of newcomers, but have the potential to be even better than 20+ win seasons a year ago. Honorable mention: North Carolina at Tennessee

Dec. 18: IPFW at Indiana. This should be fantastic after the Mastodons pulled off the stunner a year ago. John Konchar, Bryson Scott and co. just might be able to do it again. Honorable mention: Boise State at SMU

Dec. 19: Georgia Tech at Georgia. Call it Peach Bowl Day, as we have a pair of in-state ACC vs. SEC matchups. Ben Lammers against Yante Maten will be fun here. Honorable mention: South Carolina at Clemson

Dec. 20: Houston at Providence. Quality non-conference tilt high in entertainment value. The type of game Tom Penders-never afraid to take one of his Texas, George Washington or Houston teams halfway across the country for a game years ago-would be proud of. Honorable mention: Towson at Oakland

Dec. 21: Iona at Rhode Island. Guard play everywhere for this good regional matchup. Shame on TV networks for not picking this one up. Honorable mention: Gonzaga at San Diego State

Dec. 22: UNC Asheville at Saint Mary’s. On a Friday with a lot of games, most of subpar quality, we like this one. The Bulldogs won’t have the height to bang with the Gaels, but they do have the athleticism of Ahmad Thomas and MaCio Teague and an aggressive, feisty defense. Honorable mention: Northwestern at Oklahoma

Dec. 23: UCLA vs. Kentucky. Two of the most iconic programs in the sport’s history. By now the Wildcats are no longer complete rookies and have had a couple months’ seasoning. Honorable mention: Diamond Head Classic Semifinals

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. This tourney has a quietly appealing bracket, one where the brand-name influenced will peg Miami (Fla.) and USC to meet in the title game, but where any from a field of Davidson, Middle Tennessee State, New Mexico State, Princeton and even host Hawaii could become last year’s San Francisco, surprising with a run to the final.

Dec. 26: College basketball also is dark for the day after Christmas.

Dec. 27: Nevada at Fresno State. Most are still tiptoeing back into hoops a couple days after Christmas, but not the Mountain West, which has five games tonight, including the last two MWC tourney champions meeting and a good road test for the league favorite against the underappreciated Bulldogs. Honorable mention: Florida Gulf Coast at Rhode Island

Dec. 28: Louisiana Tech at Western Kentucky. Who knows what to expect out of WKU this year, an almost completely remade team that is talented…but also an almost completely remade team. We’ll find out something about the Hilltoppers when they host the gritty Bulldogs in a Conference USA opener between two of the teams expected to be high up in the standings. Honorable mention: Stephen F. Austin at SE Louisiana

Dec. 29: Louisville at Kentucky. Maybe a little starch is taken out of this one without Rick Pitino there. But not much. And one can only imagine the Cardinal chirping if they can pull this off in a year where they’ll be painted as an underdog. Honorable mention: Lehigh at Lafayette as ancient rivals collide for the 229th time

Dec. 30: Villanova at Butler. The Bulldogs knocked off the Wildcats twice last year. Honorable mention: Saint Mary’s at BYU

Dec. 31: Missouri State at Valparaiso. The Missouri Valley favorite Bears are one of the first teams to take a new conference trip to Valpo. Don’t be surprised if the Crusaders pull off the win here, too, and in general surprise in the MVC more than expected. Honorable mention: Mount St. Mary’s at LIU

Other 2017-18 game of the day picks:

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