8 early-season college basketball games that will be must-watch affairs

8 early-season college basketball games that will be must-watch affairs

DURHAM, NC – OCTOBER 21: Jeremy Roach #3 of the Duke Blue Devils looks on during Countdown to Craziness at Cameron Indoor Stadium on October 21, 2022 in Durham, North Carolina. (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)

There are thousands of non-conference games set to be played this college basketball season but these eight are must-watch television.

The college basketball season is set to begin in earnest on Monday with the first day of roughly two months of non-conference play. Scheduling in the non-conference is very important for NCAA Tournament contenders since those games that they can control offer the potential for resume-boosting wins or empty calorie contests that hurt their metrics in March.

While plenty of these non-conference contests are buy games for power conference teams hoping for easy home victories, there are plenty of gems to watch in November and December. Let’s take a look at eight must-watch non-conference games, starting in chronological order at the Champions Classic.

8 Best Non-Conference Games This Season

1. Champions Classic – Duke vs. Kansas

Date: Nov. 15, 2022Location: Indianapolis, INVenue: Gainbridge FieldhouseTime: 9:30 p.m. ETTV: ESPN

The Champions Classic always delivers drama in spades and 2022 is no exception. While Kentucky and Michigan State hook up in the undercard, the real drama unfolds in the nightcap as Jon Scheyer faces his first major test as Duke’s new head coach against the reigning national champions.

The Jayhawks will be without Bill Self in this game due to a self-imposed four-game suspension related to the FBI probe from 2017 that accused the program of paying recruits to attend the school. Associate head coach Norm Roberts will be in charge of an exciting Kansas team that has a ton of young talent like top recruit Gradey Dick.

2. Kentucky at Gonzaga

Date: Nov. 20, 2022Location: Spokane, WAVenue: Spokane ArenaTime: 7:30 p.m. ETTV: ESPN

This is the first of a six-year series between the two college basketball powerhouses and it is a huge boon for fans. Kentucky and Gonzaga agreed to two home games, two road games and two neutral site games over the course of the series with the opener coming at Spokane Arena, just a few miles from Gonzaga’s campus.

This matchup also features two of college basketball’s most recognizable stars as Gonzaga’s Drew Timme squares off with Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe, the reigning National Player of the Year. This is just the second meeting in the history of these programs so there is a nice novelty factor here as well.