Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Some nice early season games in college basketball

College basketball has its own bowl system, just like college football. It even has an ESPN-provided nickname: Feast Week.

It used to be that the big early season tournaments were highlighted by the likes of the Maui Invitational, the preseason NIT and the Great Alaska Shootout.

In recent years, though, Thanksgiving week has turned into a buffet of basketball, with tournaments in tourist-friendly locations including the Bahamas, Anaheim, Calif., Disney World and Puerto Rico. With many of them featuring eight-team fields, it’s resulted in some attractive matchups, including the Louisville-Duke final in the Battle 4 Atlantis.

The slate of big games continues this week with the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Here are the most noteworthy:

Minnesota at Florida State, Tuesday, 7:15 p.m., ESPN2

North Carolina State at Michigan, Tuesday, 7:30 p.m., ESPN

North Carolina at Indiana, Tuesday, 9:30 p.m., ESPN

Ohio State at Duke, Wednesday, 9:30 p.m., ESPN

On a side note, if you’re a Duke hater, you might want to cover your eyes and close your ears, because you’ll be hearing a lot about the Blue Devils in the coming months. They are 6-0 with victories over Kentucky, Louisville, Minnesota and VCU. If they beat Ohio State, look out.

If Duke isn’t polarizing enough for you, Kentucky travels to Notre Dame on Thursday (7 p.m., ESPN2).

Alas, after this week, schools will start hitting the end of the first semester, and the menu will start featuring more cupcakes. That’s OK, though, because the beginning of the season has offered some pretty good dishes.

- Howard Primer


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