Good counter-programming should always be given its just due, and with its 24+ hour Tip-Off Marathons becoming a staple in recent years, ESPN has allowed college basketball to shine brightly (if even for just one day) during a season where everything from pro football drama to baseball personnel hustles can grab our attention.
A quick rundown of the tip-off marathon format: ESPN uses its family of networks to broadcast around a couple dozen men’s and women’s basketball games from one November Monday evening, clear through that following Tuesday evening.
Its not “Every Simpsons Ever,” but if you love college ball and are looking to get a jump on the early story lines that could have us all enthralled through March Madness there’s going to be a lot of fun to be had starting with women’s Top-25 mainstays Baylor and Kentucky squaring off at 7 pm ET tonight.
Here’s the full list of games (all times Eastern):
Monday, Nov. 17
- Baylor vs. Kentucky (women), 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
- Miami at Florida, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
- UConn vs. No. 20 Stanford (women), 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
- SMU vs. Gonzaga, 11 p.m. (ESPN2)
— After having the pleasure of enjoying a press conference with legendary coach Larry Brown last year in his trip to Chicago, I’ve kept an eye on his renovation project in Dallas with the SMU program, which came into this season ranked No. 22 in both major polls. The Zags, ranked 13th, will provide a worthy test for one of the real up and coming teams in the college game.
- Detroit vs. Oregon (ESPNU) Legends Classic
Tuesday, Nov. 18
- Auburn vs. Colorado, 1 a.m. (ESPN2)
- New Mexico State vs. St. Mary’s, 3 a.m. (ESPN2)
- High Point vs. Hawaii, 5 a.m. (ESPN2)
- Iona vs. Wofford, 7 a.m. (ESPN2)
- Northern Iowa vs. Stephen F. Austin (ESPN2)
- Manhattan vs. UMass, 11 a.m. (ESPN2)
- Baylor vs. South Carolina, noon (ESPN)
- Wichita State vs. Memphis, 2 p.m. (ESPN) — In Sioux Falls, S.D.
- Utah vs. San Diego State, 4 p.m. (ESPN)
- Toledo vs. VCU, 6 p.m. (ESPNU) — Part of Legends Classic
- Michigan State vs. Duke, 7 p.m. (ESPN) — Champions Classic in Indianapolis
— First showcase game for Chicago’s Jahlil Okafor, who everyone is looking to dominate for the next few months before being selected No. 1 in the next NBA draft. Would have been nice if Okafor could have had his Champions Classic moment at the United Center like Jabari Parker did but it’ll be interesting to see him against an always-rugged Sparty squad, though at this point they are still getting over losing Adreian Payne, Keith Appling and Gary Harris.
- Marquette vs. Ohio State, 7:30 (ESPN2)
- Kansas vs. Kentucky, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN) — Champions Classic in Indianapolis
— Another Champions Classic that should be in the UC, for no other reason than Cliff Alexander and Tyler Ulis will both be playing their first big college games here. Still, both teams are as loaded as ever, Kentucky has even brought back the majority of their incredibly deep freshman class from last year, led by the Harrison twins.
Alexander leads a handful of all-American candidates himself for the Jayhawks, both teams will look to make early statements for campaigns that they hope end in the Final Four.
- Texas Tech vs. LSU, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
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