Previewing the ESPN 24-Hour Tip-Off Marathon

Grayson Allen, Marshall Plumlee, and the Duke Blue Devils take on Kentucky as a part of the State Farm Champions Classic and the 24-Hour Tip-Off Marathon on ESPN Tuesday night.
Grayson Allen, Marshall Plumlee, and the Duke Blue Devils take on Kentucky as a part of the State Farm Champions Classic and the 24-Hour Tip-Off Marathon on ESPN Tuesday night.

The 2015-16 college basketball regular season is in full-swing, and what a weekend it was. Upsets were scattered about, mixed in with record-breaking performances from some of the nation’s best programs.

After the first weekend is in the books, basketball fans from across the nation get geared up for a full 24 hours of top-notch college basketball action, in the form of the ESPN 24-Hour Tip-Off Marathon. From Monday, November 16th at 5:30pm until Tuesday, November 17th at 10:00pm, there are basketball games all throughout. Yes, that means even in the wee hours of the morning, there are basketball games (we see you, Nevada and Hawaii).

The event brings together a handful of the country’s best games over that time frame and all of the games are showcased on ESPN networks. To get you ready for this year’s festivities, we have previewed all of the games for you in one convenient location.

Take a scroll down to read a bit about each game that will take place over the 2015 ESPN 24-Hour Tip-Off Marathon. Grab some caffeine, get comfortable, and get ready for a crazy 24 hours.

Monday, November 16th

5:30pm EST: Connecticut @ Ohio State (Women’s)

The ESPN 24-Hour Tip-Off Marathon kicks off with a marquee women’s game featuring two teams ranked inside the top 10. The perennial powerhouse that is Connecticut goes on the road for a true road game against the Ohio State Buckeyes. In terms of both men’s and women’s basketball, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better game to kick off the festivities than with this top-10 showdown. Connecticut is a threat to win the title each season, and Ohio State is a much-improved program despite their opening night loss to South Carolina, 88 – 80. Both the Huskies and Buckeyes could make the Final Four this season, making this a must-watch contest.

7:30pm EST: Virginia @ George Washington

This is an intriguing match-up to kick off the Tip-Off Marathon in terms of men’s basketball, because this is a contest that the Virginia Cavaliers could very well lose. Going on the road to face a tough foe in George Washington, the Cavaliers will rely heavily on their defense. They will also need scoring from Malcolm Brogdon, London Perrantes, and Anthony Gill if they want to knock off the Colonials. George Washington is an offensively-gifted group, led by Kevin Larsen, Patricio Garino, and Dartmouth-transfer Alex Mitola. Don’t be at all surprised if there is another big upset in the opening week of the season.

Coming off a 34-point, 10-rebound performance in his season debut, Yonel Brown will be a player to watch when Kennesaw State takes on LSU as a part of the ESPN 24-Hour Tip-Off Marathon.
Coming off a 34-point, 10-rebound performance in his season debut, Yonel Brown will be a player to watch when Kennesaw State takes on LSU as a part of the ESPN 24-Hour Tip-Off Marathon.

9:00pm EST: Kennesaw State @ LSU (Legends Classic)

The LSU Tigers were impressive in their opener against McNeese State, winning by 11, but it looked like they had more to offer in that contest. Ben Simmons recorded a casual double-double of 11 points and 13 rebounds in his collegiate debut against the Cowboys. This game may not be the most glamorous on the surface, but it marks Simmons’ first game on national television. All eyes will be on Baton Rouge to see what he will bring to the table. While you’re watching, it’s also worth keeping an eye on Kennesaw State’s Yonel Brown. In the Owls’ opener against Alabama, Brown put up 34 points and 10 rebounds while playing all 40 minutes of the contest.

9:30pm EST: San Diego State @ Utah

To sum up San Diego State and Utah in a quick little blurb, this will be one heck of a basketball game. There’s talent on both sides of the floor, and both teams are coming off hard fought victories in their openers. It will be a true test for both teams, and it will give us more insight as to what we can expect from both moving forwards. Utah returned four starters from last year’s team that advanced to the Sweet 16, with only star guard Delon Wright gone. Led by big man Jakob Poeltl, the Utes are strong across their starting five. San Diego State will rely heavily on their front court, which includes the likes of Skylar Spencer, Winston Shepard, and Angelo Chol. The Aztecs got a big game from freshman Jeremy Hemsley in their opener, and will hope for more of the same against the Utes. This is a star-studded affair, making it can’t-miss basketball action.

11:30pm EST: Baylor @ Oregon

In the nightcap on Monday night, there will be plenty of points scored between the Baylor Bears and the Oregon Ducks up in Eugene. Baylor put up an impressive 97 points on Stephen F. Austin in their season opener, while Oregon put up 80 on Jackson State. With offensive stars sprinkled across both rosters, the game will likely come down to who can play the best defense. Baylor will exert their dominance in the paint, with forwards Rico Gathers and Taurean Prince leading the way. For Oregon, the likes of Dillon Brooks, Dwayne Benjamin, and Tyler Dorsey will look to combat the Baylor big men by stretching the floor and scoring from long distance as well as inside. All in all, this is a game that’s worth grabbing some caffeine, sacrificing some sleep, and tuning in.

Tuesday, November 17th

1:45am EST: BYU @ Long Beach State

To the casual fan, one would think this game is a lock for BYU based on last year’s results alone. If this game was played last season, then they’d most likely be correct. However, BYU cannot afford to overlook Long Beach State, as the 49ers are a much-improved team and could come away victorious. Maryland-transfer Nick Faust is eligible this season for Long Beach State, and having him in the lineup gives the team an offensive threat and a different look to their lineup. Yes, BYU still has “Mr. Triple-Double” in Kyle Collinsworth, but they will need the likes of Kyle Davis and company to step up on the road in order for them to be victorious.

4:00am EST: Nevada @ Hawaii

This is a late game that people most likely won’t stay up to watch, due to it featuring two smaller programs that people don’t tend to follow, but here’s why it’s worth a watch. Both teams have talent on their roster, and it’s the culminating game in the Outrigger Resorts Rainbow Classic. The trio of AJ West, Marqueze Coleman, and D.J. Fenner are worth the price of admission for the Wolfpack. Hawaii will counter with strong defensive guard Roderick Bobbitt and fellow guards Aaron Valdes and Sai Tummala. If all goes according to plan, both teams will be 2 – 0 heading into their 4am showdown.

Carrington Love and the Green Bay Phoenix are looking to notch their first win of the 2015-16 season when they take on East Tennessee State. (Source: Green Bay Athletics)
Carrington Love and the Green Bay Phoenix are looking to notch their first win of the 2015-16 season when they take on East Tennessee State. (Source: Green Bay Athletics)

6:00am EST: Green Bay @ East Tennessee State

Green Bay is adjusting to life without Keifer Sykes, and East Tennessee State is adjusting to life without Jalen Riley. On opening night, Green Bay looked just fine against the Stanford Cardinal, almost pulling off an upset in the process. As for the Buccaneers, they looked equally as good in their blowout victory over Division III Averett. The Phoenix have Jordan Fouse and Carrington Love back to lead the way in the post-Sykes era. As for the Buccaneers, they are relying heavily on transfer players like Ge’Layn Guyn and Deuce Bello to carry the bulk of the offensive load, but still have key returnees in Petey McClain and A.J. Merriweather. This is a big test for both teams, and it will provide a clearer picture of what to expect from both the Phoenix and Buccaneers as the season progresses.

8:00am EST: Stephen F. Austin @ Northern Iowa

Two of the country’s top mid-major programs from a season ago will be going head-to-head for the second season in a row in the Tip-Off Marathon. Last season, Northern Iowa knocked off the Lumberjacks in overtime , 79 – 77, in one of the best games of last year’s marathon of games. This year’s battle will be more guard-oriented, as Stephen F. Austin is without Jacob Parker and Northern Iowa is without Seth Tuttle. Thomas Walkup, the reigning Southland Player of the Year, is still patrolling the front court for Brad Underwood’s crew, but the likes of Trey Pinkney will need to have a big game against the Panthers’ guards. It’s a shame to say, but after this contest, one of these teams will be 0 – 2 to start the year.

10.00am EST: Valparaiso @ Rhode Island

This contest means a lot more to the Rhode Island Rams now than it did before the season started. After losing star guard E.C. Matthews for the season due to a knee injury suffered in their game against American, the Rams will be tested against a strong Valparaiso team who has the look of the top team in the Horizon League this season. The Rams will lean more heavily on forwards Hassan Martin and Kuran Iverson for help on offense, but Valparaiso will counter with Alec Peters, Vashil Fernandez and David Skara. Towson-transfer Four McGlynn will become the go-to option in the back court, and he’s more than capable of assuming the role. With the loss of Matthews, this game becomes more of a toss-up, and a must-watch to see how the Rams adjust.

1:00pm EST: Alabama @ Dayton

The Avery Johnson-era began with a strong win for the Crimson Tide over Kennesaw State. Dayton can make their own similar claim, as they won their first game without Dyshawn Pierre, rather handily, knocking off Southeast Missouri State. This is the first big test for both teams, and both Johnson and Dayton’s Archie Miller will be looking for big performances from their stars. Alabama got a big game from Retin Obasohan against the Owls, but will need to see more from New Mexico-transfer Arthur Edwards moving forwards. Ryan Mikesell made a strong first impression with the Flyers on opening night, averaging 21 points in his freshman debut. Add in Scoochie Smith and Kendall Pollard, and all signs point to a Dayton victory. However, don’t count out the Crimson Tide too early.

3:00pm EST: Colorado @ Auburn

Both Colorado and Auburn are coming off hard-fought games in their season openers. The Buffaloes played tough against the Iowa State Cyclones, losing by just 6 points. As for Auburn, they needed a clutch three pointer in the closing moments to knock off the UAB Blazers, 75 – 74. The addition of point guard Kareem Canty (20 points against UAB) has bolstered the back court, and the return of forward Cinmeon Bowers never hurts, either. The battle in the paint between Bowers and Colorado’s Josh Scott will likely determine the final outcome of the game, as both are focal points in their team’s offensive schemes.

Shaq Goodwin will look to help carry the Memphis Tigers to an upset victory over the Oklahoma Sooners as a part of the ESPN Tip-Off Marathon.
Shaq Goodwin will look to help carry the Memphis Tigers to an upset victory over the Oklahoma Sooners as a part of the ESPN Tip-Off Marathon.

5:00pm EST: Oklahoma @ Memphis

This contest marks the season opener for Lon Kruger and the Oklahoma Sooners, and it is a true road game at Memphis. Some teams will have played three games by the time Oklahoma tips off for their first contest of the year, but you can bet the Sooners will be ready. They will rely on the experience of Buddy Hield, Ryan Spangler, Isaiah Cousins, and Jordan Woodard to lead the way this season. Memphis is coming off a win over Southern Mississippi in their opener, getting 15 points and 8 rebounds from Shaq Goodwin. The Tigers will be a question mark this season, as they are dealing with the loss of Austin Nichols who transferred in the off-season. They need guys to step up behind Goodwin, and that will be extremely tough to do against a very good Oklahoma team. But, the Tigers will be a game deep in their season, and the Sooners will be trying to get back into game shape. There’s a slight chance of an upset, but you’ll want to watch this contest to make sure you don’t miss anything.

7:30pm EST: Kentucky v. Duke (Champions Classic)

In a potential Final Four preview, the Kentucky Wildcats take on the Duke Blue Devils in the first of two marquee games that headline the ESPN Tip-Off Marathon from the State Farm Champions Classic. Freshmen will be on display for both teams in this one, as the programs brought in two of the top recruiting classes in the nation this year. Kentucky will come with Skal Labissiere, Isaiah Briscoe, Charles Matthews, and Jamal Murray, while Duke will counter with Chase Jeter, Luke Kennard, Derryck Thornton, and Brandon Ingram. Grayson Allen has enjoyed a strong start to his sophomore year for Duke, averaging 27 points over his first two games. Oh, and you’ve also got Coach K taking on Coach Calipari. Need I say more?

9:00pm EST: Georgetown @ Maryland

The showdown between Georgetown and Maryland was one of the most hyped non-conference match-ups of the entire season, but it may have lost a bit of its flair. Georgetown enters the game on the heels of a heartbreaking loss to the Radford Highlanders in their season opener, falling 82 – 80 on a three-pointer with just 0.7 seconds left on the clock. Maryland, on the other hand, looked rather impressive in their season debut. The loss to Radford, coupled with a game against the Terrapins, will undoubtedly have the Hoyas fired up and ready to make a statement, and what a time to make a statement it would be. Playing one of the top teams in the country on national television sets the perfect stage for a great rivalry battle. You can bet Maryland will be ready to go, as both teams want to win this game for much more than another tick in the win column.

10:00pm EST: Kansas v. Michigan State

In the second marquee game of the night, and another potential Final Four preview match-up from the Champions Classic, you’ve got the Kansas Jayhawks taking on the Michigan State Spartans in the finale of the Tip-Off Marathon. Freshmen will have an impact in this game (see Carlton Bragg for Kansas and Deyonta Davis for Michigan State), but both of these teams will rely heavily on experienced players to get the job done. Michigan State guard Denzel Valentine is one of the top players in the country, and has triple-double potential each night (14p, 10r, 10a in exhibition game against Northern Michigan). Kansas will rely on Wayne Selden and Perry Ellis to do their damage, but both teams have depth and talent to be top contenders. If the first game wasn’t enough, this game will satisfy your itch for top-tier basketball, and then some.

– T.B.