College basketball tips off in around two months but that doesn’t mean we can’t get pumped about some of the potential games that we’ll see early on in the season. The nonconference games are always intriguing to look at because there are always the cupcake games mixed with some that look amazing on paper. It doesn’t matter if it’s November or January, nonconference games are always fun to look forward to.
Here the top five most intriguing nonconference games involving a Big East team in the 2016-17 season.
Villanova vs Notre Dame
Game Time : 12/10/16, 12:00 PM ET, CBS
This will be the last big nonconference game for the Villanova Wildcats before Big East play kicks off at the end of December. They will be playing the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in a neutral location (Newark, New Jersey). Expect the game to be a slow one with long offensive possessions from both teams. Both ‘Nova and ND ranked near the bottom of the KenPom rankings when it came to adjusted tempo, which measures the possessions per game. Villanova averaged around 66.5 per game while the Irish were not far off at 65.2. With new point guards expected to run the offense, it will likely come down to who doesn’t make mistakes come crunch time.
Butler vs Utah
Game Time : 11/28/16, 10:00 PM ET, Pac-12 Network
The Butler Bulldogs will be playing in the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational this year and after that they will stay in the West for one more game. That game will be against the Utah Utes in Salt Lake City. After having one of the more efficient offenses in the country, Butler will have to rely on Kelan Martin to carry most of the offensive load. With both Roosevelt Jones and Kellen Dunham gone, Martin will have to be the man for the Bulldogs. Utah, who made it to the 2nd round of the NCAA Tournament, also have a big hole in their offense. They won’t have center Jakob Poeltl on the team this year after he decided to go pro. Kyle Kuzma was the highest leading non-senior on this team and he should expect a jump in minutes this year. Also fun to note that Utah was in the Top 10 last year in the KenPom luck rankings (+.112)
Butler vs Indiana
Game Time : 12/17/16, 6:00 PM ET, Big Ten Network
A few games after they play Utah, Butler will play Indiana in the Crossroads Classic. A matchup that usually creates some great moments. As good as Butler was on offense, Indiana was better. With Yogi Ferrell at the helm Indiana had an adjusted offense rating of 119.5, good for sixth best in the entire country. The high octane offenses will likely be on display in this years matchup as well. IU will have James Blackmon Jr. returning from injury and is also bringing back Thomas Bryant as well. With two guys in double digits coming back, IU will have a tough offense to guard. It will be up to Kelan Martin to get Butler going.
Georgetown vs Maryland
Game Time : 11/15/16, 6:30 PM ET, Fox Sports 1
After a tough season last year, the Georgetown Hoyas will be looking for a much better campaign this time around. They will have a big test in their second game of the season as they face the Maryland Terrapins in the Verzion Center. With Melo Trimble coming back for his junior year, the Terps are expected to be one of the best teams in the Big Ten. These two teams played last year, with Maryland edging out the Hoyas 75-71 in a tightly contested game. Trimble scored 24 points, hitting 18 free throws in that game, and will likely give GT problems in this game as well. If the Hoyas can’t find a solution to stoping Trimble, it will be deja vu for them.
Villanova vs Virginia
Game Time : 1/29/17, 1:00 PM ET, FOX
Crazy to think that this could have been a rematch of the National Championship game if Virginia hadn’t blown that big lead against Syracuse in the Elite Eight. It was very disappointing end to the season for the Cavaliers. But expect Tony Bennett’s team to be back when they face ‘Nova in one of those January nonconference games. Just like in years past, this will be a battle of Villanova’s outstanding offense versus Virginia’s rock solid defense. The team that ranked #2 in adjusted offense (Villanova) vs. the team that ranked #5 in adjusted defense. The loss of Malcolm Brogdon will hurt for Virginia and it will hurt them on both ends of the offense. Without Brogdon on the court, Kris Jenkins could have a big game.