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Opening Night 2016

The Armed Forces Classic in Honolulu, featuring a quartet of 2016 NCAA Tournament teams, highlights a typical first night of the season—busy, but not particularly attractive.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Kansas vs Austin Peay
Did Baby Jay make the trip to Honolulu? Tune in tonight to find out.
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

This list of games is not exhaustive. For a full lineup and more specific information about coverage—particularly for ASN, CSN, and FSN games—visit Matt’s College Sports on TV Website.

All times are Eastern, adjust accordingly.

The new season is finally here, and not a moment too soon, if we’re being completely honest. As usual, the first Friday of the season is heavy on quantity, but relatively low on quality. Three significant neutral-site events (well, other than the Ohio State-Navy part of the Veterans Classic) are Opening Night’s main attractions.

Veterans Classic

Doubleheader begins at 6:30 p.m. on CBSSN.


None of these four teams factor into my preseason bracket (which will be up at some point today at SB Nation, apologies for the lack of a direct link, but I’m out of pocket), but the three power conference teams will contend for at-larges. In fact, both Marquette and Ohio State are in the “First Four Out” group. The Buckeyes, however, won’t get much of a metrics bump from the a road game against the host Midshipmen.

Armed Forces Classic

Doubleheader begins at 7 p.m. on ESPN.

Arizona
Arizona Wildcats (Pac-12)
vs.
Michigan State Spartans (Big Ten)
Michigan St
Indiana
Indiana Hoosiers (Big Ten)
vs.
Kansas Jayhawks (Big 12)
Kansas


It’s a different story in Honolulu, where four 2016 NCAA squads, all of whom sit on the top four seed lines of my preseason bracket, will gather. Note that this event was moved to Hawai’i’s Stan Sheriff Center from its original site, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, to provide more opportunity for fans to attend.

As I noted in my Big Ten non-conference schedule review, the Spartans’ matchup with Arizona is part of a daunting first month of the season—MSU will travel all the way to New York after their game with the Wildcats in order to face Kentucky in the Champions Classic Tuesday night. Note that Arizona will be without standout forward Allonzo Trier, who was left back in Tucson due to eligibility concerns.

Game two is the first of four big ones on an Indiana non-league slate that features eight games of fluff and an odd road trip to Fort Wayne. Knocking off a Kansas team that looks like one of the most likely challengers for the national title would do wonders for the Hoosiers’ March hopes.

Pac-12 China Game

Tips at 11 p.m. on ESPN2.

Harvard
Harvard Crimson (Ivy)
vs.
Stanford Cardinal (Pac-12)
Stanford


With Makai Mason out for the year for Yale, Harvard looks even more like Princeton’s most serious Ivy challenger. The Crimson open their season in Shanghai against a Stanford squad that will be playing its first game under new head coach Jerod Haase.

If You Absolutely Need Basketball In Your Life Before 6:30 Eastern...

You have two ESPN3 options, both of which feature non-Division I squads, and a few other streaming choices I didn’t list here. I’ll be driving all day, so I’m out on these.

Sewanee at Lipscomb Bison, 1 p.m. (ESPN3)
Muskingum at Miami-Ohio RedHawks (Tarkett Sports Classic), 1 p.m. (ESPN3)

Other Openers For 2016 NCAA Tournament Teams

Games matching two 2016 NCAA teams are bolded.

Lafayette Leopards at Villanova Wildcats, 6:30 p.m. (FS2)
Oral Roberts Golden Eagles at Baylor Bears, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
La Salle Explorers at Temple Owls, 7 p.m. (ESPNews)
Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks at Kentucky Wildcats, 7 p.m. (SEC Network)
Fairleigh Dickinson Knights at Seton Hall Pirates, 7 p.m. (FSN)
American University Eagles at Maryland Terrapins, 7 p.m. (BTN)
Lehigh Mountain Hawks at Xavier Musketeers, 7 p.m (FCS Central)
Mount St. Mary's Mountaineers at West Virginia Mountaineers, 7 p.m. (ROOT Sports Pittsburgh)
Austin Peay Governors at Dayton Flyers, 7 p.m. (Spectrum Sports Ohio)
Wagner Seahawks at Connecticut Huskies, 7 p.m. (SNY)
UNC Asheville Bulldogs at Virginia Commonwealth Rams, 7 p.m. (WTVR 6.3)
Albany Great Danes at Penn State Nittany Lions (Hall of Fame Tip-Off), 7 p.m. (ESPN3)
Brown Bears at Cincinnati Bearcats (Hall of Fame Tip-Off), 7 p.m. (ESPN3)
McNeese State Cowboys at Purdue Boilermakers, 7 p.m. (ESPN3)
Columbia Lions at Stony Brook Seawolves, 7 p.m. (ESPN3)
Virginia Cavaliers at UNC Greensboro Spartans, 7 p.m. (ESPN3)
Chattanooga Mocs at Tennessee Volunteers (Maui Jim Maui Invitational), 7 p.m. (SEC Network+)
Marist Red Foxes at Duke Blue Devils (Hall of Fame Tip-Off), 7 p.m. (ACC Network Extra)
Colgate Raiders at Syracuse Orange, 7 p.m. (ACC Network Extra)
Eastern Michigan Eagles at Pittsburgh Panthers (2K Classic), 7 p.m. (ACC Network Extra)
Western Carolina Catamounts at Miami-Florida Hurricanes, 7 p.m. (ACC Network Extra)
Evansville Purple Aces at Louisville Cardinals, 7 p.m. (ACC Network Extra)
FGCU Eagles vs. Florida Gators at Jacksonville, Fla., 7:30 p.m. (SEC Network+)
Houston Baptist Huskies at Texas Tech Red Raiders, 7:30 p.m. (FCS Atlantic)
Claiflin at UNCW Seahawks, 7:30 p.m. (CAA.tv)

While the defending national champions lead the way in the early evening window, there are three actual games featuring a pair of 2016 NCAA squads, with Stephen F. Austin’s trip to Lexington the main attraction. Of course, that contest would have been more attractive with the Lumberjacks’ 2015-16 roster and coaching staff.

La Salle and Temple’s Big Five showdown is the best pick from this group, though Chattanooga will have a good shot a winning in Knoxville. In Jacksonville, Florida will play the first of two semi-home games this weekend against the team it eliminated from the 2014 NCAAs in the Sweet Sixteen.

Incarnate Word Cardinals at Texas Longhorns, 8 p.m. (Longhorn Network)
Savannah State Tigers at Iowa State Cyclones, 8 p.m. (Cyclones.tv)
Jacksonville State Gamecocks at Tulsa Golden Hurricane, 8 p.m. (ESPN3)

Nothing to see here really.

North Carolina Tar Heels at Tulane Green Wave (Smoothie King Center), 9 p.m. (ESPNU)

Mike Dunleavy Sr. is now coaching the Green Wave. He’s likely to get a rude introduction to the college game tonight.

Northwestern State Demons at Texas A&M Aggies, 9 p.m. (SEC Network)
Prairie View A&M Panthers at Oregon State Beavers (Orange Express Showcase), 9 p.m. (Pac-12 Network Oregon)
Sacramento State Hornets at Colorado Buffaloes, 9 p.m. (Pac-12 Network Mountain)
Utah Valley Wolverines at Gonzaga Bulldogs, 9 p.m. (KHQ/ROOT Sports Northwest/CSN California/SWX)
Antelope Valley at Weber State Wildcats, 9 p.m. (Eversport.tv)
South Carolina State Bulldogs at Wichita State Shockers, 9:30 p.m. (Cox-Kansas/ESPN3)
North Florida Ospreys at Auburn Tigers, 9:30 p.m. (SEC Network+)

South Dakota State Jackrabbits at California Golden Bears, 10 p.m. (Pac-12 Network Bay Area)
Montana Grizzlies at USC Trojans, 11 p.m. (Pac-12 Network LA)
Army West Point Black Knights at Oregon Ducks (Maui Jim Maui Invitational), 11 p.m. (Pac-12 Network Oregon)
SIU Edwardsville Cougars at Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors (Outrigger Hotels Rainbow Classic), 2 a.m. 11/12 (OC Sports (Hawai'i only))

The late window gives us a 2016 NCAA matchup we didn’t get, as the Jackrabbits lost to Maryland (despite a furious rally) and Hawai’i upset the Golden Bears in the first round in Spokane. Montana and North Florida are the mid-majors most likely to pick up a power conference road win late in the evening.

Other Openers Of Note

Louisiana Tech Bulldogs at South Carolina Gamecocks, 6:30 p.m. (SEC Network+)
Georgia Bulldogs at Clemson Tigers, 7 p.m. (ACC RSNs/ESPN3)
Boston University Terriers at Northeastern Huskies, 7 p.m. (NESN)
Bowling Green Falcons at Oakland Golden Grizziles, 7 p.m. (My 20/ESPN3)
Drexel Dragons at Monmouth Hawks, 7 p.m. (ESPN3)
UT Martin Skyhawks at Ole Miss Rebels, 7 p.m. (SEC Network+)
Nicholls Colonels at Boston College Eagles, 7 p.m. (ACC Network Extra)
Georgia Southern Eagles at North Carolina State Wolfpack, 7 p.m. (ACC Network Extra)
Radford Highlanders at Wake Forest Demon Deacons, 7:30 p.m. (ACC Network Extra)

The Georgia-Clemson showdown that will be the Tigers’ first at Littlejohn Coliseum since the close of the 2014-15 season might have ramifications that last into March. N.C. State, already boasting a schedule a likely NCAA contender should be embarrassed about, will be on upset alert against a Georgia Southern team that could threaten UT Arlington in the Sun Belt.

Campbell Fighting Camels at Oklahoma State Cowboys, 8 p.m. (FCS Pacific)
Ball State Cardinals at Saint Louis Billikens (MGM Grand Main Event), 8 p.m. (FS Midwest)
Gardner-Webb Bulldogs at SMU Mustangs (2K Classic), 8 p.m. (ESPN3)
Southern Utah Thunderbirds at Valparaiso Crusaders (MGM Grand Main Event), 8 p.m. (ESPN3)
Fort Wayne Mastodons at Arkansas Razorbacks, 8 p.m. (SEC Network+)
Norfolk State Spartans at Mississippi State Bulldogs, 8 p.m. (SEC Network+)
Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (Global Sports Shootout), 8 p.m. (ACC Network Extra)

Brad Underwood makes his Oklahoma State debut at the same time his predecessor, Travis Ford, begins his tenure at Saint Louis. However, the most intriguing game of this group pits a Fort Wayne squad, favored in the Summit League, against an Arkansas squad that aims to get back to the Big Dance after a disappointing season away.

Bethune Cookman Wildcats at St. John's Red Storm, 9 p.m. (FSN)
UMKC Kangaroos at Creighton Bluejays, 9 p.m. (FSN)
Southeast Missouri Redhawks at Illinois Fighting Illini, 9 p.m. (BTN)
Pacific Tigers at UCLA Bruins, 9 p.m. (Pac-12 Network LA)
Portland State Vikings at Arizona State Sun Devils, 9 p.m. (Pac-12 Network Arizona)
Western Illinois Leathernecks at Kansas State Wildcats, 9 p.m. (FS Kansas City/ESPN3)
Coastal Carolina Chanticleers at Alabama Crimson Tide (MGM Grand Main Event), 9 p.m. (SEC Network+)
Maine Black Bears at Virginia Tech Hokies, 9 p.m. (ACC Network Extra)

Former Auburn coach Cliff Ellis brings his Chanticleers (now in the Sun Belt) to Tuscaloosa to take on Avery Johnson’s Crimson Tide. Meanwhile, Western Illinois will look to pick up its second consecutive Opening Night win over a power conference foe, not that the Leathernecks’ 2016 victory over the Badgers pushed them anywhere.

San Diego Toreros at San Diego State Aztecs, 11 p.m. (ESPNU)
Nevada Wolf Pack at Saint Mary’s Gaels, 11 p.m (TheW.tv)

The very final game on this list, pitting a Mountain West contender against team considered an NCAA snub by many last March, might be the best of the night. It’s a shame it’s only going to be streaming.

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