The college basketball season is now just fifteen minutes away. Here are your TV listings for the night:
Florida International at #4 North Carolina – 6 P.M. CST, ESPNU
The biggest story of the night will undoubtedly be the regular-season coaching debut of Isiah Thomas, although the new may have already started wearing off following a loss to the NAIA’s Northwood in an exhibition on Wednesday night. For the defending-champion Tar Heels, the key storyline in early November will be how the team moves forward following the loss of Tyler Hansborough, Wayne Ellington, and Ty Lawson. The return of Marcus Ginyard following last year’s foot injury will definitely provide senior leadership, something the Heels will likely need for their quintet of ESPN Top 100 recruits.
Alcorn State at #17 Ohio State – 6 P.M. CST, Big Ten Network
This is a guaranteed yawner from the opening rounds of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, but fans will get their first look at how the Buckeyes have matured following an offseason where nearly the entire team returned. The only key piece missing from last year’s squad is big man B.J. Mullens, who left for the NBA after just one season. Dallas Lauderdale will be expected to fill the void this year, although he will likely be missing this early season matchup as he recovers from a broken finger he suffered in preseason practices.
Albany at #25 Syracuse – 8 P.M. CST, ESPNU
Iowa State transfer Wesley Johnson lit up the scoreboard in Syracuse’s exhibition on Tuesday night, dropping in 17 second-half points en route to a 22-point performance. Unfortunately for the Orange, it came in an embarrassing loss to D-II school Le Moyne. To be fair, Syracuse was experimenting with man-to-man for much of the game, a drastic departure from Jim Boheim’s famously stingy zone D. But the result certainly raises eyebrows in a season where pundits are wondering if this young Syracuse team can handle the rigors of the Big East conference. A convincing win over the visiting Danes would help to wash away some of the bad taste that is already tainting this season.
Murray State at #12 California – 10 P.M. CST, ESPNU
In what is likely going to be a down year for the Pac-10 Conference, hopes are high for the talented and experienced Golden Bears. Cal returns four starters from last year’s team, including a pair of senior guards in Patrick Christopher and Jerome Randle. It’s a well-proven axiom that solid backcourt play leads to quality results in March, so many expect the Bears to be dancing into the second weekend. If you can’t stay up to watch this one, be sure to set the DVR and get your first look at the Best Team Nobody Knows.