No shortage of marquee early out-of-conference matchups in the upcoming 2009-10 college basketball season. These contests, though overshadowed by football season, will be far from meaningless. Here are 5 inter-conference showdowns in November and December that we think will play a role in deciding the tournament pecking order come March.
Nov. 19: Ohio State vs. UNC in New York City
-With guard Evan Turner and another strong incoming class inked by coach Thad Motta, Ohio State will look to send a message against the defending champs, who have quite the assortment of talent back despite losing their fab four of Tyler Hansborough, Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington and Danny Green.
Nov. 27: Florida vs. Michigan State in Atlantic City
-Following up back-to-back national titles with back-to-back NIT appearances has made Florida fans impatient. One of the SEC’s most talented teams, the Gators and super-frosh Kenny Boynton will get an early test against a tough, athletic and rangy Michigan State squad led by Kalin Lucas.
Dec. 1: Wake Forest at Purdue
-Purdue returns virtually its entire roster from a team that won 27 games and made the Sweet 16. Wake Forest comes to West Lafayette with one of the ACC’s deepest, most athletic rosters.
Dec. 5: UNC at Kentucky
-UNC boasts what will possibly be the nation’s best frontcourt, with Deon Thompson, Marcus Ginyard, Ed Davis and Tyler Zeller. The Wildcats post rotation of Patrick Patterson, Perry Stevenson, Daniel Orton and DeMarcus Cousins may be just as good.
Dec. 6: Arizona at Oklahoma
-The Pac 10 will be in rebuilding mode, but Arizona, led by lightning quick PG Nic Wise, may be the best of the bunch. They’ll make their mark as an early contender from the West Coast if they can prove their mettle on the road in Norman versus Willie Warren and a dangerous Oklahoma team.