With the rise of all-sports programming and the advent of regional sports networks like BTN, college basketball has become an all-you-can-eat buffet. A heaping helping of hoops, every night of the week.
If you’re a hardcore fan, it’s heaven on TV. But it can also be a bit overwhelming. So many games, so many channels, so little room left on the DVR. The 10 from Ben is here to help. Whether you watch three games a year or three a night, here are the 10 you absolutely cannot miss:
1 Lehigh at No. 19 Baylor (today, 5 p.m., Fox Sports Southwest). The first game on the list may require a little legwork, but it’s worth it. If you don’t get FSSW, get to your favorite sports bar, order up a basket of wings and watch two of the best scoring guards in the country. Lehigh is led by preseason All-American C.J. McCollum, who scored 30 points in last year’s NCAA tournament win over Duke. Baylor’s offense runs through Pierre Jackson, a hiccup-quick senior who averaged 13.8 points and 5.9 assists last year. But this game isn’t just about the guards. The Bears lost three frontcourt players to the NBA draft, but they added freshman Isaiah Austin, a versatile 7-footer who reminds scouts of Anthony Davis. Last year the Hawks played at St. John’s and at Michigan State. With four starters back, they won’t be scared walking into Waco.
2 Champions Classic (Tuesday, 7 p.m., ESPN). OK, so this is cheating because it’s really a doubleheader, but it’s two big-time games featuring four of the country’s top 14 teams. First it’s No. 7 Kansas (led by center Jeff Withey and redshirt freshman guard Ben McLemore) vs. No. 14 Michigan State. Big Ten fans can get an early look at Tom Izzo’s Spartans, who lost Draymond Green but have Keith Appling, a healthy Branden Dawson and Hamilton Southeastern’s Gary Harris. After Kansas-MSU, it’s No. 3 Kentucky vs. No. 8 Duke. After sending six players to the NBA over the summer, John Calipari reloaded with another class of one-and-done stars. Get to know Nerlens Noel and Alex Poythress now, because they won’t be around next year. Possible bonus game: A week after playing Kentucky, the Blue Devils jet down to the Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis holiday tournament, where they could play No. 2 Louisville in the championship game.