If you've visited the fantabulous new SBN front page earlier today, you probably saw Andrew Sharp's take on this Chris Littmann Sporting Blog post about ESPN's 2nd Annual Early-Season Hoops, um, Ultramarathon.
Yes, two months from tomorrow, on Tuesday, November 17, you will be able to watch at least 25 consecutive hours of hoops. (I, however, will not, thanks to my day job. It's really too bad they can't do this on a Saturday or Sunday, but it is football season after all.) ESPN did this last year, but took a break in the morning for a season preview show. This year, they realized we don't need one, or any other type of break for that matter. More on what awaits on this mammoth day after the jump.
ESPN has the bulk of the action overnight and during the day. Right after the clock strikes midnight on the East Coast (a perfectly reasonable 9 p.m. Pacific time tip), UCLA hosts Cal-State Fullerton. It will be the first chance for most of America to see how the Bruins cope after losing Jrue Holiday, Alfred Aboya, Darren Collison, and Josh Shipp. The Titans meanwhile lost Big West POY Josh Akognon and his 24 points per game and have six new faces (including 3 D1 transfers) on the roster.
In the 2 a.m. Eastern slot, St. Mary's, without Paddy Mills but with fellow Aussie Andrew Dellavedova attempting to fill the void, faces San Diego State, a team that will again challenge in the Mountain West, even though they only return one starter, F Billy White. The Aztecs knocked the Gaels out of the NIT at the end of last year.
Hawai'i again gets a 4 a.m. Eastern game. Last year, the Warriors defeated Idaho State in a game that was in overtime when I woke up at 6 Eastern. This year, it's another Big Sky opponent for UH, Northern Colorado.
According to Andy Katz's Daily Word, this will be the first time ESPN has ever carried games at 6 and 8 a.m. Eastern. The 6 a.m. offering, features a rising St. Peter's squad hosting a Monmouth side that's been down of late. My quibble with this matchup is the location, as the Hawks are opening up a new arena this year, yet they're on the road for this one. Go figure.
The 8 a.m. game could be a real donnybrook, however, and it takes place just a couple of miles from where I spent my first few years. Niagara, who finished behind Siena in the MAAC last year and is ready to challenge them again hosts Drexel, the team I foolishly picked to take the CAA's auto bid late last year. The Dragons problem then was scoring (61.7 ppg), an issue that won't get better as they lost their only double-digit scorer, Scott Rodgers, to graduation.
At 10, Clemson visits Liberty, a game that would've been more attractive had Seth Curry not transferred to Duke. The Tigers lost Terrence Oglesby to Europe, but gained Trevor Booker's younger brother Devin. He and 6-9 frosh Milton Jennings (a McDonald's All-American) give Clemson a significant post presence.
There is a nice little matchup in the East Coast lunch hour, as CAA contender Northeastern visits MAAC power Siena. Even though the Saints lost Kenny Hasbrouck to graduation, they return their other four starters (watch Edwin Ubiles closely). Bill Coen's Huskies also return four starters, including G/F Matt Janning.
At 2 p.m., Arkansas-Little Rock visits Tulsa, the team many think will usurp Memphis as the standard bearer for Conference USA.
I may have to leave the office a bit early to make the Temple-Georgetown game, which has a 4 p.m. tip, as it's on my list of early season games.
ESPN2 gives viewers a second option at 5:30 Eastern. Pitt hosts Binghamton in a preliminary game in the CBE Classic, where the Panthers are already guaranteed a trip to the finals in Kansas City.
The 6 p.m. offering is the East regional final of the NIT Season Tip-Off. Barring a huge upset, Duke will take on Charlotte or Elon.
At 7:30 on ESPN2, it will be the first of two from the Hall of Fame Classic in St. Louis. (Save yourself $200 and watch this doubleheader at home.) Arkansas, a program that's been in a bit of turmoil over the past few days (and one that only won 2 SEC games last year after some big non-conference wins), takes on Louisville, another team that's been the focus of a lot of offseason news.
At 8 on ESPN, Gonzaga visits Michigan State. The Spartans should be a near unanimous top three pick, while the Bulldogs will be good, even with the loss of four starters and a boatload of new recruits. This may not be the time to watch them, however.
If the TV action isn't enough, you can also see Northern Illinois-Illinois online at 8.
ESPNU picks up another CBE Classic preliminary that's not really a preliminary at 9. Duquesne, who--don't laugh--will build on last year and be a serious challenger in the A-10 this year--even without the services of leading scorer (and only loss) Aaron Jackson, visits Iowa. The Hawkeyes, just like they every year under Todd Lickliter, have personnel issues. Leading scorer Jake Kelly transferred to Indiana State and PG Jeff Peterson, the #3 scorer on the roster, transferred to Arkansas.
ESPN has the second Hall of Fame Showcase game at 10 p.m. It's a rematch of that 2008 National Championship game that the NCAA wants to wipe from our collective memories. Likely preseason #1 Kansas takes on Memphis in one we can only hope is as memorable as the game that didn't happen (but really did).
If you're still conscious at 11:30 Eastern, you can watch the final of the West regional of the NIT Season Tip-Off. Arizona State--presuming they knock off Texas State--will take on Cal State-Northridge or TCU in the final game of the day.
If you survive, be sure to take Wednesday off too. You'll need the sleep.