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Quick Takes: Opening week Bracket Games

Dave2015No reason to wait for the Maui Invitational; the opening week of college hoops provides some terrific pre-holiday feasts.  Yes, college hoops fans, there are Bracket Games in early November – with results that could impact resumes in March.

Here are a few of the more notable matchups in Week 1 …

Friday, November 10

  • Texas AM vs. West Virginia (Germany) – The Aggies have high expectations, so this is a good early test against a Mountaineer squad many believe to be the top Big 12 challenger to Kansas.  TAMU will be without Robert Williams, who is suspended for the Aggies’ first two games.
  • Iowa State at Missouri –  Speaking of expectations, how about those for Michael Porter, Jr. & Co. at Mizzou?  Making this is a good opening test.  The same goes for ISU; not sure what to make of the Cyclones right now.

Monday, November 13

  • Minnesota at Providence – Two anticipated tourney teams with a lot of pieces back.  Should be fun.
  • Charleston at Wichita State – With a host of starters returning, Charleston is my pick to win the Colonial.  And if there’s a good time to play the Shockers, it’s early; they won’t be at full strength until December or January.
  • Rhode Island at Nevada – Projected winners of the Atlantic 10 and Mountain West. First of three (or four) notable non-conference opponents for the Wolfpack should they need at-large consideration down the road.

Tuesday, November 14

The highlight night of opening week. Chicago hosts the Champions Classic, featuring Duke vs. Michigan State and Kansas vs. Kentucky.  Barring a truly stunning development, all four should be in play for high seeds.  Elsewhere:

  • Purdue at Marquette – The Golden Eagles are among a handful of potential bubble teams in the Big East.  Nice opportunity at home.
  • San Diego State at Arizona State – These two teams open up four spots apart on our preseason Seed List; both a little on the outside looking in.  Keep that in mind if either (or both) end up near the cutline a few months from now.

Wednesday, November 15

  • Butler at Maryland – A new coach and some new faces for the Bulldogs. Expectations vary widely for the Terrapins who bring back some intriguing talent, but lack Melo Trimble.
  • Indiana at Seton Hall – The new-look, new-coached Hoosiers head to New Jersey to take on a preseason Top 25 group of Pirates.

Thursday, November 16

  • Missouri at Utah – Quite an opening week for the Tigers.  The Utes are generally a tough-out at home and could be in the at-large mix out of the Pac 12.
  • Xavier at Wisconsin – Who steps up for the Badgers to help Ethan Happ?  For the first time in a while, Wisconsin opens a season with perhaps more questions than answers.  Meanwhile, XU should be one of the top Big East contenders.

Friday, November 17

  • Virginia at VCU – Rivalry game for two teams with question marks.  VCU begins the season among our First Four out.
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