Happy tip-off, everyone.
The first official day of college basketball has an overwhelming number of games on the docket, so we thought that it’d be helpful to narrow it down to the ones we think should be the most interesting from a Lone Star perspective.
This list runs through the early part of the week and we’ll be releasing a second list every Friday for the weekend slate of games to track.
MBB: Central Arkansas at No. 16 Baylor – 11 a.m. on ESPN+
Last year, Baylor was a big pile of unknown that Scott Drew happened to mold into a 20-win team that made the NCAA Tournament further reinforcing that he should be seen as one of the most consistent coaches in men’s college basketball.
Anyway, what makes this game watchable? Well, first of all it's the only thing on at noon and what's better than sneaking in some basketball during work while you pretend to file that expense report? Not to mention, the Bears are rightfully considered a Big XII contender along with Kansas and Texas Tech with the majority of last season’s contributors back, minus a Makai Mason-sized hole in the backcourt. Central Arkansas is a respectable Southland program that should be an apt early test to see if the Baylor hype is warranted. Time to see if Tristan Clark's conference-surge last year was a big step for him.
WBB: New Hampshire at No. 2 Baylor – 6 p.m. on ESPN+
No, this game won’t be competitive if things go accordingly, but nonetheless it is everyone’s first chance to see the defending national champions in action with a good chunk of last season’s cast back together including Lauren Cox, Juicy Landrum, etc. You know these names, and it'll be fun to see them run it back.
But even more importantly, the big deal here is that it’s the first chance to see Te’a Cooper sporting the green and gold and leading the Lady Bears’ backcourt and that’s worthy of a watch by itself. It’s also a perfect opportunity to see Prosper product, freshman Jordyn Oliver, presumably get ample minutes during the second half as Baylor pulls away.
UPSET WATCH: MBB: UTSA at Oklahoma at 7 p.m. on Soonersports.tv
Once you get over the fact that you have to log into something called “Soonersports.tv”, you can enjoy what could be one of the more under-the-radar mid-majors in the state in UTSA open up against Steve Henson’s former mentor, Lon Kruger.
Jhivvan Jackson and Keaton Wallace should be seen as one of the most entertaining backcourt duos in the nation combining for over 40 points per game last year. But the fun here is the contrast in styles, UTSA ranked 22nd in the nation in pace last year averaging 74 possessions per 40 minutes while Oklahoma…did not (Ranked 173rd). But the addition of De’Vion Harmon could be an added boost to make the Sooners more game to a track meet. The Sooners are also without Kristian Doolittle, is that enough to give the Roadrunners an edge to pull the upset?
Another early-season question is how will UTSA’s tandem get on without Giovanni De Nicolao buoying most of the playmaking?
KEEP AN EYE ON:
WBB: Little Rock at No. 6 Texas A&M at 7 p.m. on SEC Network+
This one should be an underrated fun match-up.
Little Rock are the two-time Sun Belt Tournament champions and the favorite heading into 2019-20 as well. The Trojans are a perfect early-season measuring stick for an Aggie team coming off back-to-back Sweet 16 appearances and that are the favorites to win the SEC. Last season’s game was a seven-point game at the half before A&M pulled away in the third period behind Aaliyah Wilson’s 20 points. Expect Kyra Collier and Chennedy Carter to be a fun head-to-head contest.
MBB: No. 1 Michigan State at No. 2 Kentucky at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN
Okay put the pitchforks down, yes this isn’t a Texas college basketball game.
But it is a chance to see former South Garland star Tyrese Maxey lace up for Kentucky on the big stage. I have nothing else to say here other than any opportunity you have to see Maxey play, you should take it.
WBB: Nicholls State at Rice at 7 p.m. on CUSAtv
How about taking a peek at the best team not enough people talked about last season?
Rice is just on the verge of cracking the Top 25 and, unlike last season, are fully healthy to start the year. Last year Rice was without CUSA Defensive Player of the Year Nancy Mulkey until December. The Lady Owls stormed through Conferece-USA with the sixth-best defense in the nation and finished 26th in scoring margin, winning by an average of 13 points per game thanks to the combo of Mulkey and the reigning CUSA Player of the Year, Erica Ogwumike.
MBB: Northwestern State at Texas A&M at 7 p.m. on SEC Network+
This one’s pretty obvious, the debut of Buzz Williams in College Station.
It’s going to be a rough year for Texas A&M who floored one of the least efficient offenses in the Power Five last season in terms of shooting percentage and offensive rating. Expect Savion Flagg to shoulder a huge burden this season, but things should get off to a feel-good start for the Aggies against a bottom-tier Southland team.