The NCAA men’s basketball season is underway, and we have already had huge matchups. First, we have seen second-ranked Gonzaga and Michigan State go down to the wire on a battleship. Then we got an exciting State Farm Champions Classic once again. Unranked Michigan State bounced back to beat fourth-ranked Kentucky in double OT, and sixth-ranked Kansas defeated seventh-ranked Duke late in the game.
This is just the beginning of a loaded non-conference schedule. Whoever put together these schedules for the NCAA is blessing college hoops fans. That being said, there are plenty more matchups to look at. So let’s save time and get into this schedule of five must-watch games in the NCAA men’s basketball schedule for 2022.
Kentucky Visits Gonzaga, Nov. 20th, 6:30 PM CST
First up, we have a huge matchup that will go down this weekend. Gonzaga is coming off a near 20-point loss to the Texas Longhorns. The Bulldogs do not get much of a break with the Kentucky Wildcats coming to town. While the game might not be on Gonzaga’s home court, it is still in Spokane, where the university is located.
This is the first of a six-year series between these two powerhouses. Both teams get two home games, and there will also be two neutral-site games. Gonzaga and Kentucky both have losses to power-five teams already. Kentucky lost in double OT to Michigan State, and Gonzaga got smacked by Texas. Now we get to see if Drew Timme can lead the Bulldogs past Oscar Tshiebwe, the raining NCAA Player of the Year. So buckle up folks cause this is going to be one of the best college basketball games we will see all season, and we are not even into conference play yet.
Gonzaga vs Baylor, Dec. 2nd, 7:00 PM CST
While Gonzaga might not play a challenging conference schedule, their non-conference schedule is jam-packed, maybe even the toughest one in the entire NCAA. To play against Michigan State, Kentucky, and Baylor, relatively close to each other, is brutal. However, only the best teams find a way to win; that is all Gonzaga needs to worry about.
We get a rematch of the 2021 National Championship, and it will likely be a good game. While Baylor might have dominated Gonzaga in 2021, these are two different squads now. Drew Timme will want revenge against the team that stopped the Zags one-game short of a perfect season and their first national title in program history. However, the fresh-look Bears will also want to flex their muscles against a title contender before conference play begins.
Kansas Visits Kentucky, Jan. 28th, 7:00 PM CST
The Big 12/SEC Challenge always promises some high-quality basketball. Again, this will be the case when the defending National Champion Jayhawks visit Kentucky at Rupp Arena in January. The last time these teams met, Kentucky walked into Allen Fieldhouse and beat Kansas by 20 points. So that is plenty of motivation for KU to go into Rupp Arena and try to take down Kentucky.
Bill Self will be fully back from his suspension, and KU could very well be in mid-season form. This is a huge matchup because it is only six weeks away from tournament time. If KU and Kentucky are both sitting within the top five, this will easily be a preview of two title contenders matching up shortly before the tournament, which is good for the NCAA.
North Carolina Visits Indiana, Nov. 30th, 8:30 PM CST
Next up, we have a huge clash between the scary good Tar Heels and an Indiana Hoosiers team capable of making serious noise in the NCAA this year. These two face off in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge and will again provide another marquee matchup for the NCAA. The Tar Heels are trying to get back to the title game after losing to Kansas last year, and the Hoosiers are Big Ten favorites.
Carolina has more star power when it comes to Armando Bacot and Caleb Love. This Carolina team returned most of last year’s team, minus guys like Brady Manek. However, Indiana has their own star power in forwards Race Thompson and Trayce Jackson-Davis. This will be a classic game of basketball that I demand has Dick Vitale as the color commentator. Circle this matchup for a couple of weeks from now. It will be a fun one.
Creighton Visits Texas, Dec. 1st, 6:00 PM CST
Lastly, we have a huge showdown between Creighton and Texas in the Big East/Big 12 Battle. Texas already has a huge win over Gonzaga this season, so beating ranked opponents is nothing new for the Longhorns. However, Creighton will be challenging to beat in December or even during the tournament.
This game will have little to no defense but plenty of offense on both sides. Creighton has players that can shoot from anywhere in the gym, and Texas has athletes that can run the floor. Sure there might not be nationally recognized names in this game, but they will light up the scoreboard and make it entertaining. Any time we get a fast-paced, high-scoring game, it gets remembered by a few folks across the NCAA.
We should be glued to the TV early this season for men’s college hoops. This might be one of the best non-conference schedules across the NCAA that I have seen in a long time. Finally, powerhouse teams are recognizing that you have to beat those out-of-conference powerhouses early to establish your team for later on. So get your popcorn ready, a cold brewski cracked open, and get ready for some elite college basketball in this year’s schedule.
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