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On The Menu: December 30, 2015

Thanks to the College Football Playoff, many of the games that would have been scheduled on New Year's Eve in previous years have been bumped to the 30th for 2015. The ACC, Big East, Missouri Valley, and Mountain West open their conference schedules on this Wednesday, and there are a few more first Big Ten and American tips on the slate, as well as a handful of intriguing non-conference matchups.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Game information courtesy Matt College Sports on TV Website, which has even more games listed.

All times listed are Eastern, adjust accordingly.

Big Ten Opening Day, Part II

Indiana Hoosiers (10-3) at Rutgers Scarlet Knights (6-7), 1 p.m. (ESPN2)
Michigan Wolverines (10-3) at Illinois Fighting Illini (8-5), 3 p.m. (ESPN2)
Northwestern Wildcats (12-1) at Nebraska Cornhuskers (8-5), 4 p.m. (ESPNU)
Penn State Nittany Lions (9-4) at No. 4 Maryland Terrapins (11-1), 5 p.m. (ESPN2)
Minnesota Golden Gophers (6-6) at Ohio State Buckeyes (8-5), 7 p.m. (BTN)

Last night, Purdue held off Wisconsin in Madison, while the top-ranked Michigan State fell on the road at Iowato start the Big Ten season. The remaining 10 teams in the conference play their openers today and tonight, with the Northwestern-Nebraska game looking sneakily intriguing. I'm curious to see if struggling Illinois can hold serve against a Michigan team that might not be as good as its record indicates and if Rutgers can open the season by stunning Tom Crean's unpredictable Hoosiers.

ACC Opening Night

Clemson Tigers (7-5) at No. 7 North Carolina Tar Heels (11-2), 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
Syracuse Orange (10-3) at Pittsburgh Panthers (10-1), 9 p.m. (ESPN2)

We all know Clemson's horrible record when traveling to Chapel Hill, so don't expect much out of the first game of the ACC campaign. Game two, however, is a different story, as an up-and-down Orange squad heads to the Steel City aiming to avenge last season's sweep at the hands of the Panthers—and they'll have to do it under the tutelage of head-coach-in-waiting Mike Hopkins, as Jim Boeheim's suspension still runs for this game and two others.

Big East Opening Night

Seton Hall Pirates (10-2) at Marquette Golden Eagles (10-2), 7 p.m. (FS1)
Georgetown Hoyas (7-5) at DePaul Blue Demons (6-6), 9 p.m. (FS1)

The first Big East tilt of the season features two of the conference's most pleasant surprises, as a Pirate team that's already defeated Ole Miss, Georgia, and Wichita State travels to Milwaukee to face the Legends Classic champion Golden Eagles. The nightcap features one of the conference's—and nation's—most puzzling squads, Georgetown, heading to Rosemont to take on a Blue Demon team that will be riding a bit of a high after closing their non-conference season with a 21-point thumping of Atlantic 10 contender George Washington.

American Athletic Opening Day, Part II

Houston Cougars (10-2) at South Florida Bulls (3-10), 2 p.m. (ESPNU)

Before you get excited about the Cougars' 10-2 mark, note that their best win came over an LSU squad that looks bound for the NIT or CBI despite the presence of Ben Simmons on the roster. Plus, UH lost to Grand Canyon in the semifinals of the Global Sports Classic, an event they should have rolled through in Vegas last week. Pass on this one.

Missouri Valley Opening Night

Southern Illinois Salukis (11-2) at Loyola-Chicago Ramblers (7-5), 8 p.m. (FS Midwest/CSN Chicago/ESPN3)
Missouri State Bears (4-8) at Illinois State Redbirds (6-7), 8 p.m. (ESPN3)
Bradley Braves (2-11) at Northern Iowa Panthers (8-5), 8 p.m. (CSN Chicago Plus/ESPN3)
Indiana State Sycamores (6-6) at Evansville Purple Aces (11-2), 8 p.m. (ESPN3)

Might the Valley end up being a one-bid league this season? It's possible, thanks to idle Wichita State's troubles without Fred VanVleet in the non-conference and Northern Iowa's intriguing profile that reflects a rollercoaster November and December. The Panthers open with a winnable home game against a Bradley team that looks like the worst in the conference. Evansville and Southern Illinois, who enter conference play with the best records on paper, each face early tests, with the Salukis traveling to Gentile Arena to take on a competitive Rambler squad.

Mountain West Opening Night

Nevada Wolf Pack (8-4) at New Mexico Lobos (7-6), 9 p.m. (ROOT Sports)
Wyoming Cowboys (7-6) at San Diego State Aztecs (7-6), 10 p.m. (CBSSN)
Utah State Aggies (8-3) at San Jose State Spartans (5-7), 10 p.m. (MWN)
Fresno State Bulldogs (9-4) at UNLV Runnin' Rebels (9-4), 11 p.m. (ESPNU)

It's a similar story for the Valley's conference challenge partner, as the Mountain West struggled mightily in the non-conference—capped by New Mexico's 0-3 showing at the Diamond Head Classic last week. Right now, UNLV and Boise State look to be the league's top at-large hopes, and the Runnin' Rebels open conference play with a feisty Bulldogs' squad who will contend for the conference crown, though not one of the 36 free places in the field of 68.

Non-Conference Tilts Of Note

No. 19 West Virginia Mountaineers at Virginia Tech Hokies, 12 p.m. (ESPNU)

The former Big East rivals meet in Blacksburg. Despite the Hokies' 8-4 record so far, this opposition will more closely reflect what they'll have to deal with when they jump into ACC play on Saturday in Raleigh. It might not be pretty for Buzz Williams' crew.

Long Beach State 49ers at No. 15 Duke Blue Devils, 4 p.m. (ACC RSNs/ESPN3)
Oakland Golden Grizzlies at No. 5 Virginia Cavaliers, 6 p.m. (ESPNU)

The Blue Devils and Cavaliers wrap up their ACC prep with a pair of high-quality mid-majors. Don't expect the Golden Grizzlies to keep this as close as their OT loss to Michigan State in Auburn Hills eight days ago.

Arkansas Razorbacks at Dayton Flyers, 8 p.m. (CBSSN)

The Flyers, who have already defeated Alabama at home and Vanderbilt in Nashville, are good bets to move to 3-0 against SEC opposition. The Hogs have only strung together two straight wins once this season.

UC Davis Aggies at Boise State Broncos, 9 p.m. (MWN)

The Broncos are one of three teams to not start Mountain West play tonight (Air Force and Colorado State are the others). Instead, they welcome an Aggie team that's dropped five in a row and isn't anywhere near as strong as last season's Big West regular season champions.

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