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College Basketball Viewer’s Guide for November 12, 2021

With all due respect to the last three evenings and the Champions Classic, tonight feels like the real opening of the season.

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NCAA Basketball: Cal. State - Bakersfield at UCLA Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Of course, as I insult the first 72 hours of the season, I must admit they featured some intriguing moments, including what might just be the winner of the “Shot of the Year” contest when all is said and done. You probably missed this, since UC Riverside’s buzzer-beating win at Arizona State was on Pac-12 Network.

For a more complete listing of today’s games, visit the daily schedule at Matt Sarz’s Sports, adjustable by time zone.

All times are Eastern.

The Headliners

Villanova (1-0) at UCLA (1-0), 11:30 p.m. (ESPN2)

Tonight and tomorrow evening, If you don’t live on the West Coast, you might want to prepare to stay up late for ESPN2’s offerings. On Saturday, it’s Texas-Gonzaga. This evening, it’s another potential top of the bracket matchup at Pauley Pavilion. Both UCLA (95-58 over Cal State Bakersfield) and Villanova (91-51 over Mount St. Mary’s) ran riot in their respective openers on Tuesday. However, the Bruins lost star forward Cody Riley to a knee sprain early in their victory, which might impact their chances tonight. Both Nova and UCLA were red hot from the field against overwhelmed opposition on Tuesday night, so the potential is there for this to be a barnburner.

The Veterans Classic

CBSSN will air both games.

Richmond (1-0) vs. Utah State (0-1), 6 p.m.
Virginia Tech (1-0) at Navy (1-0), approx. 8:30 p.m.

Navy has already defeated Virginia in Charlottesville, so don’t think the Midshipmen will be intimidated by Tech at home in the nightcap. While Ed DeChellis’s club did defeat East Carolina in the 2019 edition of this event, the Middies’ last win over a true power foe in the Veterans Classic came against Pitt in 2017. As for the first game of the doubleheader. it doesn’t have quite as much luster as it would have had Craig Smith not given up Logan for Salt Lake City. New Utah State coach Ryan Odom, formerly of UMBC, might appreciate being back in the Chesapeake Bay area after the Aggies dropped their opener to UC Davis, 72-69. The Spiders, meanwhile, took down a game NC Central team, 70-60, as they began their push for an at-large.

Oregon State (1-0) at Iowa State (1-0), 8 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
Pittsburgh (0-1) at West Virginia (1-0), 8:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
San Diego State (1-0) at BYU (1-0), 9 p.m. (BYU TV)
SMU (1-0) at Oregon (1-0), 11 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks)

Thanks in no small part to Iowa State’s rebuilding process under T.J. Otzelberger and Pitt’s embarrassing Tuesday home loss to (checks notes) the Citadel, the two later tips are the most interesting contests out of this group by some margin. BYU hosts former WAC/Mountain West rival SDSU coming off needing a late surge to put away Cleveland State on Tuesday. The Aztecs, meanwhile, took down UC Riverside by 13—an impressive result in hindsight considering what the Highlanders did last night. Curiously, SDSU hosts Arizona State in its next contest, while the road doesn’t get any easier for BYU, who next heads to Portland to take on Oregon in the Phil Knight Invitational.

Speaking of the Ducks, they face their second consecutive Lone Star State opponent tonight in SMU. On Tuesday, Oregon took care of defending SWAC champ Texas Southern, 83-66. As for the Mustangs, this game interrupts the Southland portion of their schedule. After beating McNeese by an 86-62 count on Tuesday, SMU will host both Northwestern State and Southeastern Louisiana upon their return to the Metroplex.

The First Actual Tournament of 2021

Asheville Championship Semifinals

Western Kentucky (C-USA) (1-0) vs. Minnesota (Big Ten) (1-0), 6:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
Princeton (Ivy) (1-0) vs. South Carolina (SEC) (1-0), approx. 9 p.m. (ESPN News)

The flood of Thanksgiving week tournaments begins next Thursday, but you’ll get a sneak preview tonight and Sunday in Asheville, North Carolina. After the success of hosting the relocated Maui Invitational in 2020, the city decided to start its own exempt tournament. This is a four-team affair where the two mid-majors in the field, WKU and Princeton, will definitely have a chance at claiming the title, simply because Minnesota and South Carolina are likely second-division teams in their respective power leagues.

If you’re interested in picking this winners of this November’s tournaments (other than this early one), join the Silver Sword, the exempt tournament version of the Jerome launched by Mid-Major Madness editor emeritus Russ Steinberg. This year, there are men’s and women’s contests, with the top three finishers in each earning a prize from Homefield Apparel. Entry deadlines are Thursday, Nov. 18 at 1:59 p.m. ET for the men’s event and Saturday, Nov. 20 at 11:59 a.m. ET for the women’s. Good luck!

Key Non-Tournament MTE Showdowns

Robert Morris (0-1) at Kentucky (0-1) (Kentucky Classic), 7 p.m. (SECN)
Army West Point (1-0) at Duke (1-0) (Duke Veterans’ Day Weekend Showcase), 7 p.m. (ACCN)
Stetson (1-0) at Georgia Tech (0-1) (Georgia Tech Showcase), 7 p.m. (ACCNX/ESPN+ ($))
Lipscomb (1-0) at College of Charleston (1-0) (Uprise AG College Season Opener), approx. 7:30 p.m. (FloHoops ($))
Grambling State (0-1) at Texas Tech (1-0) (Texas Tech/Grand Canyon MTE), 8 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
North Florida (0-2) at Grand Canyon (1-0) (Texas Tech/Grand Canyon MTE), 9 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
Seattle (1-0) at Washington State (1-0) (Washington State MTE), 10 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks Washington)

Kentucky’s second game of the season comes against Robert Morris, a program that famously knocked the Wildcats out of the 2013 NIT, while Duke hosts Mike Krzyzewski’s alma mater in the first of two MTE games in as many night. Texas Tech and Grand Canyon can both end their shared event with 2-0 marks, since they won’t meet, while either Seattle or Washington State will win the Cougars’ event after both claimed wins over Alcorn State. Then there’s Georgia Tech, which lost to Miami (Ohio) in the opener to its event Tuesday. ASUN favorite Stetson won’t be an easy rebound opportunity.

Then there’s the matchup in Charleston, where Lipscomb meets the host College for its first game in three days. The Cougars already started the round-robin with a 106-74 win over South Carolina State on Thursday night.

Upset Potential!

Furman (1-0) at Louisville (1-0), 7 p.m. (ACCNX/ESPN+ ($))
Northern Illinois (1-0) at Indiana (1-0), 7 p.m. (B1G+ ($))
South Dakota State (1-0) at Alabama (1-0), 8 p.m. (SECN+/ESPN+ ($))
Abilene Christian (0-1) at Texas A&M (1-0), 8 p.m. (SECN+/ESPN+ ($))
Oakland (0-1) at Oklahoma State (1-0), 8 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
High Point (1-0) at Northwestern (1-0), 8 p.m. (B1G+ ($))
New Hampshire (1-0) at Marquette (1-0), 8:30 p.m. (FS2)
Sam Houston State (1-0) at Nebraska (0-1), 8:30 p.m. (B1G+ ($))
Texas Southern (0-1) at Saint Mary’s (1-0), 10 p.m. (WCCN)

Northern Illinois already owns an upset win over Washington, while Nebraska fell to Western Illinois. It’s unlikely that either will experience a repeat tonight. And really, some of these (ACU at A&M) seem much more possible than others (Furman-Louisville, SD State-Alabama). Still, the SoCon is off to a decent start already, so maybe the Paladins will be able to build on that against the Cardinals.

Intriguing In-State Matchups

Bryant (1-0) at Rhode Island (1-0), 6 p.m. (YurView New England/ESPN+ ($))
Kent State (0-0) at Xavier (1-0), 6:30 p.m. (FS1)
Western Michigan (1-0) at Michigan State (0-1), 6:30 p.m (B1G Network)
Radford (1-0) at Virginia (0-1), 7 p.m. (ACCNX/ESPN+ ($))
Holy Cross (1-0) at Boston College (1-0), 7 p.m. (ACCNX/ESPN+ ($))
Wofford (1-0) at Clemson (1-0), 7 p.m. (ACCNX/ESPN+ ($))
Rice (1-0) at Houston (1-0), 8 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
Green Bay (0-1) at Wisconsin (1-0), 8 p.m. (B1G+ ($))
Indiana State (1-0) at Purdue (1-0), 8:30 p.m. (B1G Network)
Incarnate Word (0-1) at Baylor (0-0), 8:30 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
Southern Utah (1-0) at Dixie State (0-1), 9 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
Stanford (1-0) at Santa Clara (1-0), 11 p.m. (CBSSN)

There are some potential upsets to keep an eye on in this group (Bryant-Rhode Island, Wofford-Clemson, Stanford-Santa Clara), but the defending champs’ opener against Incarnate Word is not among them

The Kent State-Xavier game is only the second biggest sporting event scheduled for Cincinnati tonight. #DosACero #USMNT

Under the Radar Contests

Northeastern (0-1) at Georgia State (1-0), 4 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
Eastern Washington (0-1) at UC Davis (1-0), 5 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
North Dakota State (1-0) at Cal Poly (1-0), 5 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
ETSU (0-0) at Appalachian State (0-1), 6:30 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
Morehead State (0-1) at UAB (1-0), 7 p.m. (Stadium/Marquee)
Wright State (1-0) at Marshall (0-0), 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
Penn (0-1) at George Mason (1-0), 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
UNCG (1-0) at Northern Kentucky (1-0), 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
UMass (1-0) at Yale (1-0), 8 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
San Diego (1-0) at Nevada (1-0), 10 p.m. (MWN)

There are some truly massive mid-major contests on tap for today, starting with a late afternoon matchup of former CAA rivals and a pair of intriguing Big West home tips at 2 p.m. Pacific. C-USA powers UAB and Marshall host the defending OVC Tournament and Horizon regular-season champions, respectively. Penn, overwhelmed by Florida State on Wednesday, next heads to Fairfax to meet a GMU squad that impressively took apart Stony Brook in Kim English’s coaching debut. Yale, meanwhile, puts its Ivy favorite status to the test against visiting UMass.