It's a busier Friday than usual due to a few in-season tournaments taking place this weekend. Tournaments in Puerto Rico and Charleston are into the semifinals while the championship and third-place games will take place in the Coaches vs. Cancer event in New York. Villanova/Dayton kicks things off at 3 PM on ESPNU while both games from Madison Square Garden can be seen on ESPN2 at 5 and 7 PM. But for as good as Syracuse/North Carolina and the opening semi in San Juan look there are also intriguing games not on national television.
While the Coaches vs. Cancer event moves onto the semifinal round at Madison Square Garden tournament play begins in Puerto Rico and Charleston with some intriguing matchups on the radar. Ohio State/North Carolina and Syracuse/California will get the lion's share of the attention and with good reason; all four will encounter their first true test of the season following routine beatings in the opening rounds of the event.
Wednesday offered Utah and UNLV the opportunity to knock off in-state rivals (Utah State and Nevada) who will enter their respective conference seasons expected to compete for league titles, and neither disappointed. The Utes were able to capitalize on seventeen Utah State turnovers and a hot-shooting Carlon Brown (sorry for referring to you as Carlton yesterday) to pull out the 68-67 win over the Aggies.
Tuesday was a day for sleep deprivation as it marked ESPN's 24-hour college basketball marathon. Unfortunately for the network the early hours served up a trio of yawners with Saint Peter's, Niagara and Clemson all pulling off comfortable victories. But the games involving Kansas and Michigan State didn't disappoint with the top two teams being tested by Memphis and Gonzaga respectively. It's good to see that there are teams willing to challenge themselves so early in the season, giving themselves the opportunity to evaluate themselves against credible competition.
Wednesday sets up to be a light day in regards to games of national interest but there are two games out west that you should pay attention to. Nevada makes the trek from Reno to Las Vegas, taking on in-state rival UNLV in arguably the game of the night while Utah State visits Utah. A pair of Top 10 teams are in action as well with Texas hosting Western Carolina while Butler visits Northwestern in Evanston.
Thankfully Monday was a busy night on the schedule even before ESPN's 24-hour marathon (even if you had fantasy football interests Ravens/Browns should not have been an option) and it didn't disappoint either. John Wall made his regular season debut for Kentucky and to say the least the phenom showed why people are touting him as a National POY possibility. And there were other key results on Monday/early Tuesday that could have a long-lasting impact on this season as well.
Three Key Happenings
ESPN's somewhat ridiculous but somewhat awesome 24 hours of college basketball tips off tonight, as we enter the first full week of action. Four Top 20 teams are in action, though none should be tested. Most eyes will be on the young freshmen stars on the likes of Duke & Kentucky, especially the debut of UK's John Wall.