Viewer’s Guide for the 2014 Tip-Off Marathon: Loaded slate, marquee nightcap and great mid-major matchups
Aug 4, 2014, 5:40 PM EDT
On Monday morning, the full schedule for ESPN’s annual Tip-Off Marathon was released, and it is a doozy. There are 19 games in total on the schedule, and by the time it is all said and done, we could very well be looking at 29 straight hours of basketball.
Who doesn’t love that?
Since most of you are normal and don’t do things like watch 29 straight hours of basketball, I’ll go ahead and help you prioritize which games you need to watch, a pressing concern three months in advance, I know (all times EST, games on Tuesday unless noted):
RELATED: The full schedule can be found here
THERE’S NO EXCUSE FOR NOT WATCHING BEYOND CHILDBIRTH
The Champions Classic (Indianapolis):
- 1. Kansas vs. Kentucky, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN): The final game of the event will, as always, end up being the best, as preseason No. 1 Kentucky takes on a Kansas team that will likely be better despite losing Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid. The Jayhawks are going to have the bodies up front to match up with the size of John Calipari’s front line, but it will be interesting to see how the young and inexperienced point guards Bill Self has at his disposal will handle the pressure of a nationally televised game. This game will also feature a ton of future NBA talent, from Kelly Oubre, Wayne Selden and Cliff Alexander to Karl Towns, Dakari Johnson and, well, the rest of Kentucky’s roster.
- 2. Michigan State vs. Duke, 7:00 p.m. (ESPN): This game won’t have as much intrigue as the nightcap will, as the Spartans are going to be in a bit of a rebuilding mode next season. But that doesn’t change the fact that it will be Tom Izzo vs. Mike Krzyzewski, or that this will be our first look at Duke’s hyped duo of Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones.
YOU CAN GO ON A DATE AS LONG AS THAT DATE ENTAILS WATCHING THESE GAMES
3. SMU at Gonzaga, Mon. 11:00 p.m. (ESPN2): One of the most intriguing matchups of the day. Gonzaga is a borderline top ten teams this season with a healthy Kevin Pangos, Kyle Wiltjer in the program after a year off and incoming freshman Domantas Sabonis. SMU would have been in that same conversation had they been able to get Emmanuel Mudiay onto campus for a season. Even without him, they return enough to be a tough defensive team led by point guard Nic Moore. Moore vs. Pangos will be a highlight of this event.
4. Utah at San Diego State, 4:00 p.m. (ESPN): Utah, led by Delon Wright, has the pieces to make a push for second place in the Pac-12 this season. The Aztecs will lose Xavier Thames to graduation, but if Dwayne Polee can continue to make strides and their young guards — Trey Kell, Kevin Zabo, Dakarai Allen — can have an impact.
5. Wichita State vs. Memphis, 2:00 p.m. in Sioux Falls, SD (ESPN): Wichita State hasn’t lost a regular season game in 17 months, returning the majority of their key pieces not named Cleanthony Early from a team that went 35-0. Memphis will be in a bit of a rebuilding mode, but they still have as much talent stockpiled as anyone.
RUN ERRANDS OR GO TO THAT DANCE RECITAL, JUST MAKE SURE YOU STREAM THE GAMES ON YOUR PHONE
6. Marquette at Ohio State, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN2): This will be our first chance to witness a pair of new eras beginning. Buzz Williams moved of from Marquette during the offseason, ushering in an opportunity for Steve Wojciechowski to step in and take over the program. He’ll be going up against Ohio State in their first meaningful game in four years without Aaron Craft.
7. Miami at Florida, Mon. 7:00 p.m. (ESPNU): Florida is going to once again be a top 10-15 team and the kind of program that will push Kentucky in the SEC, especially with Kasey Hill returning to school. Miami was bad last season, but they add Angel Rodriguez and Sheldon McClellan to the program and could end up making the NCAA tournament.
8. Toledo at VCU, 6:00 p.m. (ESPNU): VCU is VCU, a now-perennial top 25 program that is always entertaining to watch. Toledo, however, won 27 games last season, returns essentially the entire teams and will enter this season as the favorite to win the MAC.
9. Northern Iowa at Stephen F. Austin, 9:00 a.m. (ESPN2): UNI and SFA are two of the best mid-major programs in the country, well-coached teams that execute offensively and play tough defensive. We could also be looking at two NCAA tournament teams, as the Lumberjacks are coming off of a win over VCU in the 2014 NCAA tournament while the Panthers are the favorite to give Wichita State a run in the Missouri Valley.
10. Auburn at Colorado, 1:00 a.m. (ESPN2): The Bruce Pearl era in Auburn will get its first national television exposure with a trip to Boulder to take on the Buffaloes, who will be without Spencer Dinwiddie.
11. Iona at Wofford, 7:00 a.m. (ESPN2): Another great mid-major matchup early in the day. Iona loves to press, they love to get out and run, they score a lot of points and they win a lot of games. Wofford plays a much slower, more deliberate brand of basketball, but they made the tournament last season and return everyone from that team.
12. Manhattan at UMass, 11:00 a.m. (ESPN2): If you like watching teams play uptempo, back-and-forth basketball, this is the game for you. Both teams love to press and both teams love to run the floor in transition. It may not be pretty, but it will be fun.
YOU KNOW WHAT? JUST WATCH MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL. OR PLAY FIFA. OR WHATEVER. I’LL BE DISAPPOINTED, BUT I WILL UNDERSTAND
13. Baylor at South Carolina, 12:00 p.m. (ESPN): Scott Drew vs. Frank Martin might be the biggest difference in coaching styles you’ll come across. The Bears will be in a bit of a rebuilding reason as they try to replace Isaiah Austin and Cory Jefferson, while South Carolina is perpetually rebuilding.
14. Texas Tech at LSU, 7:30 p.m. (ESPNU): Texas Tech is Texas Tech, but LSU should actually be good enough to compete for a top four spot in the SEC this season, especially if Texas Tech transfer Josh Gray turns out to be able to play.
15. New Mexico State at Saint Mary’s, 3:00 a.m. (ESPN2): NMSU lost Sim Bhullar but will replace him with … Tanveer Bhullar. Saint Mary’s will be looking to build a tournament-caliber resume against this season behind Stanford-transfer Aaron Bright and Brad Waldow.
16. High Point at Hawaii, 5:00 a.m. (ESPN2): John Brown of High Point is one of the best dunkers in the country.
17. Detroit at Oregon, 11:00 p.m. (ESPNU): Our first national glimpse at Oregon this season, who had one of the most disastrous offseasons in recent memory.
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