From China to Germany to Nebraska, college basketball is back. Here's what's in store for opening weekend.
Welcome to the 2017-18 college basketball season. Opening weekend brings the return of the madness, even though it’s filled with small conference lambs served up to the lions of the country. This may feel like a dress rehearsal for the real start of the season in most corners of the Division I universe, but make no mistake: these games count. From China to Germany to Durham to East Lansing to Tucson and everywhere in between, college basketball is officially back.
No. 25 Texas A&M vs. No. 11 West Virginia
Armed Forces Classic, Ramstein Air Force Base, Ramstein, Germany
Friday Nov. 10, 6 p.m. ET, ESPN
This is the lone matchup featuring two ranked teams on opening weekend. Jevon Carter is back for one last go-round in Morgantown, and that means Texas A&M will have its hands full trying to break the Mountaineers full-court press. The Aggies have a likely future lottery pick in Robert Williams, and he and Tyler Davis should be able to take advantage of a Mountaineers team that will be without the ineligible Esa Ahmad until the second half of the season.
West Virginia 66, Texas A&M 62
Memphis vs. Alabama
Veterans Classic, Annapolis, Md.
Friday Nov. 10, 6:30 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network
The big news in this game is that Collin Sexton, Alabama’s prized freshman point guard, will be ineligible after a presumable connection to the federal probe rocking the college basketball world. On Thursday, the team announced that Sexton will serve a one-game suspension for violating NCAA rules, meaning he will not play in the season opener on Friday but will return for the home opener on Tuesday. That's good news for the Crimson Tide, a team that is expected to be among the best in the SEC this season.
Alabama 70, Memphis 61
Fairleigh Dickinson at No. 23 Seton Hall
Prudential Center, Newark, N.J.
Friday Nov. 10, 6:30 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 2
Seton Hall is one of the most experienced teams you’ll find in a power conference, led by seniors Khadeen Carrington, Angel Delgado and Desi Rodriguez. Those three should have the Pirates in the mix for a potential Big East championship and easily back into the Big Dance. They’ll need some shooting to fill in around them, but this will be a fun team to watch all season.
Seton Hall 89, Fairleigh Dickinson 59
Elon at No. 1 Duke
Cameron Indoor Stadium, Durham, N.C.
Friday Nov. 10, 7 p.m. ET, ACC Network
The No. 1 team in the nation debuts on Friday, and all eyes will be on freshman Marvin Bagley III. The 18-year-old is a potential No. 1 overall pick in next year’s NBA draft, and his play at Duke could drive the Blue Devils back to the Final Four for the first time in three years. Of course, Grayson Allen is on everyone’s preseason National Player of the Year list, too.
Duke 91, Elon 66
Northern Iowa at No. 9 North Carolina
Dean Smith Center, Chapel Hill, N.C.
Friday Nov. 10, 7 p.m. ET, ESPNU
Only in a league like the ACC could the Tar Heels be projected to finish fifth—such is life in college basketball’s deepest conference. The Heels will have to make it work early in the season without Joel Berry—he broke his hand after punching a door during what must have been a crushing loss in a game of NBA2K—but that shouldn’t matter against Northern Iowa. With a healthy Berry, Pitt transfer Cameron Johnson, Luke Maye, Theo Pinson and freshman Garrison Brooks, the Tar Heels will once again be a Final Four contender.
North Carolina 84, Northern Iowa 64
North Florida at No. 2 Michigan State
Breslin Center, East Lansing, Mich.
Friday Nov. 10, 8 p.m. ET, BTN
Miles Bridges is back for his sophomore season, a move no one saw coming—except him. Bridges is now the leader of one of the best teams in the country, which brings its own form of pressure. Make no mistake: anything short of a trip to the Final Four will be a letdown for this season’s Spartans. The true test for this team will begin next week in Chicago, when it takes on Duke in the State Farm Champions Classic. North Florida won’t be more than grist for the mill.
Michigan State 95, North Florida 60
Iowa State at Missouri
Mizzou Arena, Columbia, Mo.
Friday Nov. 10, 9 p.m. ET, SEC Network
The nation gets its first look at Michael Porter Jr., the top recruit in the 2017 class who, along with new coach Cuonzo Martin, could fundamentally change the face of Missouri basketball. The Tigers are a good bet to reach the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2013. On the other side, Iowa State head coach Steve Prohm faces his greatest test yet. The Cyclones waved goodbye to Monte Morris, Naz Mitrou-Long, Deonte Burton and Matt Thomas, their top-four scorers from last season and the core of a team that made the NCAA tournament each of the last five years.
Missouri 71, Iowa State 68
Yale at Creighton
CenturyLink Center Omaha, Omaha, Neb.
Friday Nov. 10, 9 p.m. ET
Yale is the favorite in the Ivy League, returning last year’s leading scorers Miye Oni and Alex Copeland, as well as Makai Mason, who missed all of last season with a foot injury. Mason was named Ivy League Preseason Player of the Year, so expectations are high for him in his return. This will be a great opening weekend test for Creighton and senior leader Marcus Foster. The Blue Jays should be one of the better three-point shooting teams in the country.
Creighton 80, Yale 70
Georgia Tech vs. No. 21 UCLA
Baoshan Sports Centre, Shanghai, China
Friday Nov. 10, 11:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
UCLA is one of the youngest teams in the country and three of their freshmen—Cody Riley, Jalen Hill and LiAngelo Ball—made the wrong kind of headlines when they were accused of shoplifting from a store in Hangzhou. Steve Alford said all three will not play against Georgia Tech. Riley and Hill are expected to have big roles for the Bruins, so their absence will be felt. Freshmen Jaylen Hands and Kyle Wilkes, however, were the big gets in recruiting. They, along with Aaron Holiday, should be enough to take down the Yellow Jackets.
UCLA 77, Georgia Tech 70
No 14. Notre Dame at DePaul
Wintrust Arena, Chicago, Ill.
Saturday Nov. 11, 4 p.m. ET, FS1
The Irish enter the season as one of Duke’s primary competitors at the top of the ACC. Bonzie Colson is not only the favorite for ACC Player of the Year, but should also be in the mix for the national award. Along with fellow senior Matt Farrell, they will lead what should be one of the best overall offenses in the country, and they get to christen DePaul’s new arena in Chicago’s South Loop neighborhood.
Notre Dame 83, DePaul 71
George Mason at No. 16 Louisville
KFC Yum! Center, Louisville, Ky.
Sunday Nov. 12, 2 p.m. ET, ACC Network
Freshman Brian Bowen is suspended because of his ties in the pay-to-play recruiting scandal, but Louisville should still be a power in the ACC this season. Sophomore V.J. King could be the breakout player in the conference, but it’s Deng Adel and Quentin Snider who will lead the Cardinals offensively. Even without Rick Pitino at the helm, they will once again be one of the best, if not the very best, defensive teams in the ACC.
Louisville 84, George Mason 58
Princeton at Butler
Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Ind.
Sunday Nov. 12, 6 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network
Princeton and Butler are two teams that made the tournament last season but find themselves in a state of flux this year. The Tigers went undefeated in the Ivy league last year and nearly upset Notre Dame in the first round, but lost seniors Steven Cook and Spencer Weisz. Devin Cannady and Myles Stephens are back to lead a defense of their Ivy League title, but they’ll have more competition this season. As for Butler, Chris Holtmann is off to Ohio State, leaving the program in the hands of LaVall Jordan. But the Bulldogs return Kelan Martin, Kamar Baldwin and Tyler Wideman from last year’s Sweet 16 run.
Butler 73, Princeton 66
No. 15 Minnesota at Providence
Dunkin Donuts Center, Providence, R.I.
Monday Nov. 13, 6:30 p.m. ET, FS1
The Gophers are ready to put last year’s first-round exit at the hands of Middle Tennessee State behind them, and return four of five starters, led by Amir Coffey and Nate Mason. Providence, meanwhile, is another Big East team with a ton of experience, with four seniors in its starting lineup. However, if the team is going to take off, freshman Makai Ashton-Langford will need to play a large role.
Minnesota 63, Providence 62
College of Charleston at No. 7 Wichita State
Koch Arena, Wichita, Ks.
Monday Nov. 13, 9 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network
The Shockers enter their first season in the American Athletic Conference as the favorite to win the league championship and they are also a Final Four contender. They returned all the key pieces from last year’s team that nearly knocked off Kentucky in the second round of the NCAA tournament. Sophomore point guard Landry Shamet, who suffered a stress fracture in his foot in the summer, should be good to play limited minutes in this game. But don’t sleep on College of Charleston, the favorite in the Colonial Athletic Association this season.
Wichita State 78, College of Charleston 64