The nonconference schedule has been limited this season due to COVID, but there are still plenty of good games. Here are the 10 best nonconference games in college basketball.
10. UNC Tar Heels at. Iowa Hawkeyes- Dec. 8
This game is a part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Both teams are ranked in the preseason top 25. The Tar Heels are trying to retool their roster for a better finish than they had in 2020. Iowa is gearing up for a Final Four run. This game will feature some of the best bigs in college basketball as Garrison Brooks (UNC) goes up against Luka Garza (Iowa).
9. Michigan State Spartans at Virginia Cavaliers- Dec. 9
Another game that is occurring during the Big Ten/ACC Challenge is Michigan State vs. Virginia. The Spartans will hope that Rockett Watts and Aaron Henry will be comfortable in their new roles by this point. Virginia is expected to be atop the ACC when things are all said and done. This game will also have the Hauser brothers battling it out.
8. Creighton Blue Jays at Kansas Jayhawks- Dec. 8
A regional game headlines the Big East-Big 12 Battle. Creighton will travel to Lawrence with their point guard Marcus Zegarowski being one of the best in the country. Kansas has talent, but needs Marcus Garrett and Ochai Agbaji to develop into stars.
7. Michigan State Spartans vs. Duke Blue Devils- Dec. 1
The Champions Classic always produces great games. This year Michigan State takes on Duke. Both teams are looking to replace a lot of talent that has left, but they have enough talent on their rosters this year to be successful. To go with that, these are also two storied programs with two legendary coaches.
6. Illinois Fighting Illini at Duke Blue Devils- Dec. 8
Illinois has their best team in years with the returns of big man Kofi Cockburn and point guard Ayo Dosunmu. Guard Trent Frazier helps give this team three really great players that will have Illinois dreaming about a Final Four. Matthew Hurt and Wendell Moore will need to lead a young Duke team this year, but they should be competitive at the top of the ACC. This game is another product of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
5. Kansas Jayhawks vs. Gonzaga Bulldogs- Nov. 26
The Fort Myers Tip-Off pits Kansas vs. Gonzaga. The Jayhawks have a tough nonconference schedule and will rely on their veterans to help them out. Gonzaga has another great team that will hope that freshman Jalen Suggs can help lead them to a Final Four again. This is one of the games to keep an eye on in the first week of the season.
4. Kentucky Wildcats vs. Kansas Jayhawks- Dec. 1
Kentucky enters the season with just one returnee in Keion Brooks, but they have many talented transfers and of course, incoming freshman. Kansas has more returning talent and will want to pick up an early season win before getting into the grind of the Big 12 schedule. These are two of the best basketball programs of all time and this game features another time to watch John Calipari go up against Bill Self.
3. Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. Tennessee Volunteers- Dec. 2
Gonzaga has a lot of tough early season games before they go into their WCC schedule. Mark Few will need to have his veteran team ready to play early. Tennessee has one of the best frontcourts in the country in Yves Pons and John Fulkerson, which will have them competing for an SEC title. This game will be on a neutral floor in Indianapolis.
2. Illinois Fighting Illini vs. Baylor Bears- Dec. 2
The Jimmy V Classic headline game is Illinois vs. Baylor. The Illini definitely have the talent to compete for a National Championship and they’ll have to bring their best game against Baylor. Baylor spent much of last year as the number one team in the country and return Jared Buter, along with most of their key players from last season.
1. Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. Baylor Bears- Dec. 5
Indianapolis will host a lot of big college basketball games this season, including this one. These are the top two teams in the preseason polls and both teams will be battle tested by this point. While this game doesn’t feature the traditional big time programs in the sport, these teams have a lot of returning talent and both teams are legit contenders to win it all.
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