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

November 9, 2017 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.

We started this on Monday with November, continued with December on Tuesday, January and Wednesday, and today we finish with February:

Feb. 1: Montana State at North Dakota. One of the Big Sky’s favorites this year travels to face last year’s regular season and tourney champions. Also some serious individual talent in this game, with the Bobcats’ Tyler Hall and UND’s Geno Crandall. Honorable mention: Middle Tennessee State at Old Dominion

Feb. 2: Yale at Princeton. Another huge Ivy League game. The Tigers swept the Bulldogs in three meetings last year-including the Ivy tourney final-and are probably being undersold this year. Honorable mention: Illinois-Chicago at Oakland

Feb. 3: USC at UCLA. This series has become a major happening, all L.A. flash and dash with the way both programs play. Honorable mention: BYU at Gonzaga, where the Cougars go for their third straight win in Spokane

Feb. 4: Seton Hall at Villanova. Super Bowl Sunday means all games are played earlier in the day. How the Pirates perform against Nova will be a terrific litmus test for where their season goes. Honorable mention: Wisconsin at Maryland

Feb. 5: Bucknell at Lehigh. The Mountain Hawks gave the Bison trouble last year-defeating them twice before Bucknell won the last meeting in the Patriot League tourney final. Honorable mention: West Virginia at Oklahoma

Feb. 6: San Diego State at Fresno State. It’s not inconceivable that a wide-open Mountain West could come down to these two in the end. Two teams that have relied on defense in recent years. Honorable mention: Xavier at Butler

Feb. 7: UNLV at Nevada. Staying in the Mountain West for this rivalry, which even in a chaotic season for the Runnin’ Rebels produced two excellent games split by the teams last year, one decided by two points, the other going to overtime. Honorable mention: VCU at Richmond

Feb. 8: Duke at North Carolina. As we seem to say yearly, we don’t fawn over this series like some do, but there’s no denying it’s a great rivalry that regularly produces classics and is always worth watching. Honorable mention: Vermont at Albany

Feb. 9: Detroit at Oakland. Quickly has become the Horizon League’s best rivalry, even as the Golden Grizzlies are typically the better squad. The Titans were just 8-23 last year, but one of the eight came over Oakland. Honorable mention: Princeton at Harvard

Feb. 10: North Carolina at North Carolina State. Criminally underrated series at the expense of hyping Duke/UNC, and watch it now with a new coach in Kevin Keatts bringing his frenetic style to it. Honorable mention: Kansas at Baylor

Feb. 11: Cincinnati at SMU. The grinders between these two the past couple years have been sometimes hard to watch-and fascinating. Honorable mention: Michigan at Wisconsin

Feb. 12: Mercer at Samford. Old TAAC/Atlantic Sun rivals are now two of the favorites in the highly Southern Conference this year. Two excellent backcourts, and the frontcourt battle between the Bears’ Desmond Ringer and Samford’s Wyatt Walker will be a blast to watch. Honorable mention: Iona at Siena

Feb. 13: Kansas at Iowa State. Guessing we may be due for a little more Hilton Magic by this time… Honorable mention: Michigan State at Minnesota

Feb. 14: Villanova at Providence. This has the potential for being a changing of the guard game if the Friars are at or near the top of the Big East at this point of the season. Honorable mention: Nevada at Boise State

Feb. 15: LIU at St. Francis (N.Y.). The Battle of Brooklyn is back, with these two that are so close they sometimes walk to the opposing campus. Honorable mention: Saint Mary’s at San Francisco

Feb. 16: Rhode Island at St. Bonaventure. Been waiting for this one between two fantastic backcourts. E.C. Matthews against Jaylen Adams alone is worth the price of admission. Honorable mention: Georgia State at Georgia Southern

Feb. 17: Lipscomb at Florida Gulf Coast. On an absolutely loaded Saturday, we go with a huge conference matchup between what should be the top two teams in the Atlantic Sun, a typical one-bid league that awards homecourt advantage to all higher seeds in its conference tourney. The Bisons won at FGCU a year ago, though the Eagles also won the meeting in Nashville. Honorable mention: Texas-Arlington at Louisiana-Lafayette

Feb. 18: Wichita State at Cincinnati. Maybe the game of the year in the AAC. Maybe one of the games of the year across the country. These two meet as conference foes for the first time in nearly 50 years, and the intensity should be off the charts. Honorable mention: Stanford at California

Feb. 19: Miami (Fla.) at Notre Dame. Any time we see this matchup, no matter the sport, we think ‘Catholics vs. Convicts,’ the memorable 1988 football game between these two schools in South Bend. Two teams with differing styles but well could be in similar spots in the ACC and nationally all year. Honorable mention: Maryland at Northwestern

Feb. 20: Vanderbilt at LSU. It’s worth watching to see just how much Will Wade is able to whip the Maravich Assembly Center into a frenzy in his first year there. If it happens, this will be a tough one for the Commodores. Honorable mention: West Virginia at Baylor

Feb. 21: Canisius at Niagara. One of our favorite ancient rivalries in the sport, this is the 183rd meeting of these old foes. No matter how much of heavyweight programs are in our H.M. game, Western New York is where we’d choose to be. Honorable mention: Louisville at Duke

Feb. 22: Winthrop at UNC Asheville. This has become a must-watch series the last couple years. Both meetings last year were absolute classics going down to the final seconds. Honorable mention: Belmont at Jacksonville State

Feb. 23: Western Michigan at Ball State. Two of the favorites in the MAC this year, and this could be for West Division supremacy and a top seed in the conference tournament. WMU’s Thomas Wilder and the Cardinals’ Tayler Persons are two of the top players in the MAC. Honorable mention: Manhattan at Iona, NYC’s best rivalry right now

Feb. 24: College of Charleston at William & Mary. The Tribe’s always-potent offense is especially formidable at Kaplan Arena, where it went 13-1 last year and made Charleston’s defense look powerless to stop it. Honorable mention: Wichita State at SMU

Feb. 25: Minnesota at Purdue. How the Golden Gophers do against the Boilermakers this year-a similar team to them last year, but better shooting-will tell us a lot about where their season goes. Honorable mention: Samford at UNC Greensboro

Feb. 26: Duke at Virginia Tech. The Hokies drilled the Blue Devils on New Year’s Eve last season and often seem to give them trouble at Cassell Coliseum. Frankly, this is a series hurt by the ACC’s massive over-expansion, because it should be played twice a year. Honorable mention: Texas Tech at West Virginia

Feb. 27: Saint Joseph’s at Rhode Island. If the Hawks jell the way some think they might, then this will be a huge game in the Atlantic 10. Honorable mention: Boise State at San Diego State

Feb. 28: Villanova at Seton Hall. February wraps up with two more huge ones in the Big East, which continues to show how good a double round-robin conference race is. The Wildcats dominated in Newark last year, but the games there the previous two years were classics. Honorable mention: Providence at Xavier
Other game of the day picks for 2017-18:

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