Happy College Basketball Opening Day! The season is finally here, after one of the longest (and most irritating) offseasons ever.
The schedule-makers have decided to ease us into the season. Action will be fairly light on Monday and Wednesday, with just one game on Tuesday and none on Thursday, before a long slate of games Friday night.
I intend on posting some sort of viewer's guide here for each night of the season. Most of the time, there will be a jump, and I'll categorize games in various ways, with the worst TV options receiving the "time and channel only" treatment.
However, with only four games on the TV schedule on this Monday, a more complex post will have to wait. Tonight's quartet of televised contests are all from the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, which will conclude in New York City next Thursday and Friday.
Since this tournament is run by the Gazelle Group, it shares the same format as the CBE Classic in Kansas City and Legends Classic in Atlantic City. Specifically, four schools, typically from major conferences, host two games apiece before advancing to the semifinal site. The eight visiting schools, usually mid-majors, play in two separate, non-televised round-robins, even if they should stun one of the big boys on their own court, as both UT San Antonio and Duquesne did against Iowa in last season's CBE event.
With that in mind, here's tonight's TV information.
Rhode Island at Pittsburgh, 7 p.m. ET (ESPNU): The Rams have the best shot at pulling an upset tonight, though they would have had a better chance at beating the Big East favorites with last season's roster, featuring Keith Cothran and Delroy James.
UC Irvine at Illinois, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN3): The Fighting Illini hope to ease into the season agains an Anteater squad that just lost an exhibition to their NAIA neighbors, Concordia, for the second straight year. UCI finished in a tie for 7th in the Big West last season.
Seattle at Maryland, 8 p.m. ET (CSN Washington/CSN Northwest): The Terps open the post-Greivis Vasquez era against Cameron Dollar's Redhawks. Seattle U is transitioning back into D-I, and they finished as the best independent in 2009-10, finishing with a 17-14 mark that included two victories over Portland State, wins at Utah and Oregon State (by 51!), and at home against Fresno State and Weber State.
Navy at Texas, 9 p.m. ET (ESPNU): The Midshipmen, led by guards O.J. Avworo and Jordan Sugars, will look to stun a Longhorn team that didn't exactly have the strongest finish to the the 2009-10 campaign.
On Tuesday, there's only one game on the schedule, the Don Meyer Classic, which honors the former Lipscomb and Northern State head coach, who retired last season. Northern State visits Lipscomb's archrival Belmont, coached by Meyer's good friend Rick Byrd. That game tips at 7 p.m. ET and will be aired on ESPNU.
I'll be back with my next viewer's guide on Wednesday, as we ease into the new campaign. In the meantime, please use the comments to share your thoughts on tonight's action as it unfolds.
One final note, please be sure to follow my blog-specific Twitter, @Dobber_BtB_SBN. I'll still be updating @ChrisDobbertean, but the blog-specific one will see more activity over the next five months.