Top Nonconference games to watch in 2009-2010


The Red Wig
Nov 2, 2008
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Lots of Big 12 teams on this list.

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Non-conference games to watch in 2009-10
Saturday, August 1, 2009, 10:29 PM EST [General]

Not all of the schedules for next season have been officially released yet, but there's several quality non-conference games already slated for December and January. While one of them happens to be a rematch of last year's national championship game and three others appear on Texas' 2009-10 slate, here are a few other non-conference contests that will piqué the interest of any college hoops fan.

Dec. 1: Michigan State at North Carolina (ACC-Big Ten Challenge)

North Carolina had the pleasure of dominating the Spartans twice last season, especially the second time in Detroit for the 2009 national championship. But things will be quite different when these two teams square off in Chapel Hill during the third week of the season. The Tar Heels, for one, won't have Tyler Hansbrough, Ty Lawson or Wayne Ellington on the floor while Goran Suton and Travis Walton have both left East Lansing. Instead, it will be UNC's powerful interior game featuring Tyler Zeller, Ed Davis and newcomer John Henson going up against a Michigan State frontline composed of Raymar Morgan, Durrell Summers and Delvon Roe. Prediction: Michigan State wins.

Dec. 2: Illinois at Clemson (ACC-Big Ten Challenge)

There's no question that the Michigan State-North Carolina matchup is the best game the ACC-Big Ten Challenge has to offer next season, but this could also provide some thrills in early December. While the Tigers' backcourt will suffer greatly after losing K.C. Rivers and Terrence Oglesby, Clemson coach Oliver Purnell will have to turn to senior big man Trevor Booker for offensive production and some much-needed team leadership. Illinois coach Bruce Weber, meanwhile, will have his own issues on the perimeter with the departures of guards Trent Meachem and Chester Frazier, but Demetri McCamey and a talented recruiting class could be the difference for the Fighting Illini. Prediction: Illinois wins.

Dec. 12: Mississippi State vs. UCLA (Wooden Classic)

First, Renardo Sidney committed to UCLA. But when Ben Howland and his staff refused to sign the local Fairfax High product, he went across town to sign with USC. The Trojans, though, did just the same as their Pac-10 foes, pulling their offer off the table as well. With time running out quickly, Sidney sat down with Rick Stansbury and made up his mind that it was time to go back home to Mississippi. Now coincidentally, if the 6-foot-11 big man manages to pass his SAT — and that is a big "if" still — he'll have a chance to return to Southern California to face a program that didn't want any part of him because he had yet to take the exam. And the Bruins could be in for a real slugfest considering that Howland's team doesn't feature a lot inside, with 6-foot-8 Drew Gordon serving as UCLA's primary big. The Bulldogs, meanwhile, could have one of the best frontcourt tandems in Sidney and 6-foot-9 senior Jarvis Varnado, the nation's leading shot blocker the past two seasons. Prediction: Mississippi State wins.

Dec. 19: North Carolina at Texas

The Tar Heels will have already faced a quality Michigan State team by the time they arrive in Austin to take on the Longhorns, and that should certainly help a rather inexperienced UNC squad that returns only two starters in power forward Deon Thompson and defensive-minded Marcus Ginyard. The real battle, though, will be on the interior, where Texas big men Dexter Pittman and Damion James will look to match up against a young, yet extremely talented frontline for Hall of Fame coach Roy Williams. Prediction: North Carolina wins.

Dec. 22: Michigan State at Texas

Tom Izzo's team has had the Longhorns' number the past two seasons, but Rick Barnes and company will be looking to change that trend when they welcome last year's Big Ten champs to town right before the holidays. Though Michigan State should have the advantage in the backcourt with speedy playmaker Kalin Lucas running the show, Texas' size and depth on the interior could prove to be too much for the Spartans' frontcourt to handle for 40 minutes. Prediction: Texas wins.

Jan. 1: West Virginia at Purdue

After two solid seasons in Morgantown, Bob Huggins might finally have a team that could contend for the Big East title in 2009-10. A lot could be revealed about the Mountaineers' season on New Year's Day when they travel to Mackey Arena to face one of most experienced teams in the nation. That's what Matt Painter will have next season, as all five starters — including forwards Robbie Hummel and JaJuan Johnson — will be back for the Boilermakers. Prediction: Purdue wins.

Jan. 9: Kansas at Tennessee

With games at UCLA and Temple along with home games vs. California and Michigan, Bill Self and his players aren't taking things easy in the first two months of the 2009-10 season. But playing the Volunteers in Knoxville could be the toughest challenge the Jayhawks face before meeting Big 12 foe Texas at the Frank Erwin Center, and the Tennessee faithful will be ready to welcome a Kansas team that many are predicting to cut down the nets in Indianapolis. Prediction: Kansas wins.

Jan. 23: Texas at Connecticut

It doesn't get much better than a Big East-Big 12 showdown between two potential top 10 teams in the middle of the conference season. The veteran Longhorns, who will have prior non-conference battles against North Carolina and Michigan State (both in the state of Texas), will travel to the Northeast for a date with the legendary Jim Calhoun and a UConn team that will be talented despite losing their frontcourt duo of Hasheem Thabeet and Jeff Adrien along with steady point guard A.J. Price. Prediction: Connecticut wins.

Other notable non-conference games already announced: Wake Forest at Purdue (Dec. 1); Kansas at UCLA (Dec. 6); Arizona at Oklahoma (Dec. 6); Xavier at Kansas State (Dec. 8); UCLA at Notre Dame (Dec. 12); Georgetown vs. Washington in Wooden Classic (Dec. 12); Connecticut at Michigan (Jan. 17); Michigan at Kansas (Dec. 19); California at Kansas (Dec. 22); Texas A&M at Washington (Dec. 22).
I didn't realize texas had those 3 games on the schedule. You have to give them credit for scheduling those games.
I love the way Texas schedules....hope Joe C. and Capel make this a regular occurence as well.