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College Basketball 2021-22 Opening Day/Night Viewing Guide

It’s heavy on quantity and light on quality. Even the 2021 version of the venerable Champions Classic doesn’t look so great on paper, if we are to go by last year’s results anyway.

NCAA Basketball: State Farm Champions Classic-Kansas at Kentucky
Last year’s Champions Classic was split between Indianapolis and Durham. It’s back in New York for 2021.
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

All times are Eastern.

The Highlight: The Champions Classic

ESPN will televise both games.

Michigan State vs. Kansas, 7 p.m.
Duke vs. Kentucky, approx. 9:30 p.m.

All four teams taking the Madison Square Garden floor tonight have a lot to prove after disappointing 2020-21 campaigns. Game one features a pair of teams that did qualify for the NCAA Tournament at least, though Michigan State dropped an all-blueblood First Four game to eventual Final Four squad UCLA and Kansas fell to USC in the Second Round. Then there’s the nightcap, which showcases a pair of teams that didn’t even reach the field of 68 in Kentucky and Duke. Tonight’s matchup also marks the beginning of Mike Krzyzewski’s final season in charge of the Blue Devils, a storyline that many of you are already likely tired of.

Afternoon Tips

Alcorn State at Washington State, 3 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks)
Manhattanville at Manhattan, 3 p.m. (ESPN3)
Mount St. Mary’s at Villanova, 4:30 p.m. (FS1)
UC San Diego at California, 5 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks)
Bethune-Cookman at South Florida, 5 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
Bob Jones at Wofford, 5 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))

There are no morning or early afternoon tip-offs this season and just one 2021 NCAA Tournament team will take the floor before 6 p.m. Eastern, Big East regular-season champ Villanova.

2021 NCAA Tournament Teams In Action

Accounting for Kansas, Michigan State, and Villanova above, 60 of last season’s field of 68 begin the Road to New Orleans tonight (though Oklahoma State will sadly be ineligible). Of the remaining eight, Florida State. Michigan, Rutgers, and UC Santa Barbara take the floor for the first time tomorrow night; Liberty and Mount St. Mary’s wait until Thursday; while Georgetown and defending National Champion Baylor first tip on Saturday.

Counting the Michigan State-Kansas Champions Classic game, there are just four games that feature matchups of 2021 Tournament teams. On the other hand, five 2021 NCAA teams open against non-D1 opponents.

2021 qualifiers are in bold.

Akron at Ohio State, 6 p.m. (ESPN2)
Saint Peter’s at VCU, 6 p.m. (MASN/ESPN+ ($))
Mary Baldwin (non-D1) at Winthrop, 6 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
Central Connecticut State at UConn, 6:30 p.m. (FS1 whiparound/Fox Sports app/website)
UT Martin at Tennessee, 7 p.m. (SECN)
Loyola (Md.) at North Carolina, 7 p.m. (ACCN)
Texas Southern at Oregon, 7 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks)
Lafayette at Syracuse, 7 p.m. (ACC RSNs/ACCNX)
Appalachian State at Iona, 7 p.m. (ESPN3)
Hartford at Wagner, 7 p.m. (NEC Front Row)
Presbyterian at Clemson, 7 p.m. (ACCNX/ESPN+ ($))
North Carolina A&T at UNCG, 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
Northeastern at Colgate, 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
Siena at St. Bonaventure, 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
Oakland at West Virginia, 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
Belmont at Ohio, 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
Quinnipiac at Maryland, 7 p.m. (B1G+ ($))
Bellarmine at Purdue, 7 p.m. (B1G+ ($))
Miami (Ohio) at Georgia Tech, 7:30 p.m. (ACCNX/ESPN+ ($))
Jackson State at Illinois, 8 p.m. (B1G Network)
Abilene Christian at Utah, 8 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks Mountain)
Coppin State at Loyola Chicago, 8 p.m. (NBCS Chicago Plus/ESPN3)
Coe (non-D1) at Drake, 8 p.m. (ESPN3)
Arkansas-Pine Bluff at Creighton, 8 p.m. (FS1 whiparound/Fox Sports app/website)
Mercer at Arkansas, 8 p.m. (SECN+/ESPN+ ($))
Elon at Florida, 8 p.m. (SECN+/ESPN+ ($))
Central Michigan at Missouri, 8 p.m. (SECN+/ESPN+ ($))
Morehead State at Auburn, 8 p.m. (SECN+/ESPN+ ($))
ULM at LSU, 8 p.m. (SECN+/ESPN+ ($))
Northwestern State at Oklahoma, 8 p.m. (Bally Sports Oklahoma)
Maine at Virginia Tech, 8 p.m. (ACCNX/ESPN+ ($))
UT Arlington at Oklahoma State, 8 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
Jacksonville State at Wichita State, 8 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
North Florida at Texas Tech, 8 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
Hofstra at Houston, 8 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
St. Francis Brooklyn at Wisconsin, 8 p.m. (B1G+ ($))
Neumann (non-D1) at Drexel, 8 p.m. (FloHoops ($))
Bridgewater (non-D1) at Norfolk State, 8 p.m. (NSU stream)
Oklahoma Christian (non-D1) at North Texas, 8:30 p.m. (UNT stream)
Louisiana Tech at Alabama, 9 p.m. (SECN)
Cleveland State at BYU, 9 p.m. (BYU TV)
Navy at Virginia, 9 p.m. (ACCN)
CSUN at USC, 9 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks)
Houston Baptist at Texas, 9 p.m. (LHN)
Oral Roberts at Colorado State, 9 p.m. (Stadium)
Dixie State at Gonzaga, 9 p.m. (KHQ/Root Sports/AT&T SN/WCCN)
Grambling State at Grand Canyon, 9 p.m. (Fox 10 Xtra/ESPN+ ($))
UC Davis at Utah State, 9:30 p.m. (MWN)
Longwood at Iowa, 10 p.m. (B1G Network)
Montana State at Colorado. 10 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks Mountain)
UC Riverside at San Diego State, 10 p.m. (YurView CA/MWN)
Eastern Washington at Nevada, 10 p.m. (NSN/MWN)
Portland State at Oregon State, 10:30 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks Oregon)
Cal State Bakersfield at UCLA, 11 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks)

Projected Newcomers In Action

Marquee 2021-22 preseason bracket arrivals Duke and Kentucky meet in the second game of the Champions Classic tonight, while Auburn, Belmont, Nevada, and Wagner all face 2021 NCAA qualifiers in their openers, with only the Bruins hitting the road for their matchup against Ohio. Of the remaining 22 newcomers bracket newcomers, 20 open their seasons tonight, with Notre Dame and Vermont the exceptions. The Catamounts visit UNI on Thursday night, while the Fighting Irish host CSUN on Saturday afternoon.

Four bracket newcomers start their campaigns against non-D1 foes, while the Blue Devils-Wildcats game and UC Irvine-New Mexico State showdown in Las Cruces are the only two all-newcomer matchups on the slate.

Eastern Michigan at Indiana, 6 p.m. (B1G Network)
St. Mary’s (Md.) (non-D1) at Morgan State, 6 p.m. (MSU stream)
Delaware at Davidson, 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
NC Central at Richmond, 7 p.m. (NBCS Washington/ESPN+ ($))
Brewton-Parker (non-D1) at Georgia State, 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
North Greenville (non-D1) at Furman, 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
Niagara at Xavier, 7:30 p.m. (FS1 whiparound/Fox Sports app/website)
UNC Asheville at UAB, 7:30 p.m. ( ($))
Milwaukee at North Dakota, 8 p.m. (Bally Sports North/Wisconsin)
Nicholls at Northern Iowa, 8 p.m. (PSN/ESPN3)
Tennessee Tech at Memphis, 8 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
Southern at Louisville, 9 p.m. (ACC RSNs/ACCNX)
UC Irvine at New Mexico State, 9 p.m. (Aggie Vision/ESPN+ ($))
Bethesda (non-D1) at Southern Utah, 9 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
Bradley at South Dakota State, 9:15 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
Prairie View A&M at Saint Mary’s, 10 p.m. (WCCN)
Northern Arizona at Arizona, 10:30 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks Arizona)

Welcome Back, Ivy League!

Morehouse (non-D1) at Harvard, 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
Salve Regina (non-D1) at Brown, 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
Rutgers-Camden (non-D1) at Princeton, 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
Vassar (non-D1) at Yale, 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
Cornell at Binghamton, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN3)
Dartmouth at Boston College, 8 p.m. (ACCNX/ESPN+ ($))
Columbia at Fordham, 8 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))

Seven of the Ancient Eight return to the court for the first time since March 2020 tonight. Four will entertain non-D1 foes at home, while three visit local rivals. The eighth team, Penn, faces the stiffest test of them all when it starts its season against Florida State on Wednesday night in Tallahassee.

Welcome to Division I!

St. Thomas at Chicago State, 8 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))

The Tommies start the first of five years of a reclassification process, thanks to their move from Division III, in Chicago against a Cougar squad that’s playing its final season in the WAC.

Other Noteworthy Openers

Evansville at Cincinnati, 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
Stony Brook at George Mason, 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))

Wes Miller opens his Cincinnati tenure against an Evansville squad that has won just nine games in each of the last two seasons. Kim English begins his head coaching career in Fairfax with a stiffer test, as GMU hosts America East co-favorite Stony Brook.

There are many, many games on tonight’s schedule that I didn’t mention here, however. For those other contests, head over to the daily schedule at Matt Sarz’s Sports for the whole rundown, adjustable by time zone!