The Dagger: College Basketball Blog

Ranking the games in ESPN’s 24-hour marathon from most to least intriguing

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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Duke will meet Kentucky for the first time since 2002 in the marquee 24-hour marathon game (US Presswire)

ESPN released the lineup on Wednesday for its fifth annual college hoops marathon to be held on Tuesday, Nov. 13.

What has been a terrific event the past four years once again looks as though it has a slate of games worthy of your espressos and energy drinks. Here's the list of games in order from most to least intriguing:

1. Duke vs. Kentucky (from Atlanta), 9:30 p.m. ET

Comment: The first matchup between the Blue Devils and Wildcats since 2002 appeared to be an Elite Eight possibility last season before Lehigh upended second-seeded Duke in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. Instead, the two blue bloods will meet eight months later in a matchup that should be the first big test for Kentucky's latest vaunted freshman class.

2. Kansas vs. Michigan State (from Atlanta), 7 p.m. ET

Comment: The Jayhawks will have a huge advantage in this matchup of perennial Final Four contenders. Michigan State will play a mere four days after opening its season against Connecticut at a U.S. military base in Germany, a scenario eerily reminiscent to the loss the Spartans suffered to Duke last season in New York two days after facing North Carolina in San Diego.

3. Butler at Xavier, 4 p.m. ET

Comment: Even though these are now both fellow Atlantic 10 powers, this early season matchup will actually be a nonconference game. Still, it's an early harbinger for how Butler will fare in a stronger league and how Xavier can recover from the departure of Tu Holloway, Mark Lyons and Kenny Frease.

4. West Virginia at Gonzaga 12 a.m. ET

Comment: The last time these two teams met, Gonzaga waxed West Virginia 77-54 in the opening round of the NCAA tournament last March. Can a young Mountaineers team get revenge? It won't be easy with Kevin Jones and Truck Bryant having graduated and the Zags returning most of the core of last year's team besides center Robert Sacre.

5. Davidson at New Mexico, 2 a.m. ET

Comment: The midnight atmosphere at the Pit will be appealing, as will the action on the floor. It will be a guard-heavy matchup between two 2012 NCAA tournament teams as juniors Kendall Williams and Tony Snell lead the formidable Lobos against Davidson's array of dangerous perimeter shooters.

6. Harvard at Massachusetts, 10 a.m. ET

Comment: It's a testament to the weakness of Boston College these days that clearly the best in-state matchup in Massachusetts doesn't involve the Eagles. Harvard again will be the favorite to win the Ivy League, while UMass fancies itself an Atlantic 10 contender with Chaz Williams and several other key players back from last year's NIT semifinal team.

7. Detroit at St. John's, 2 p.m. ET

Comment: To avenge a 69-63 loss to Detroit last season, St. John's will have to do a better job on Titans star Ray McCallum Jr. The talented point guard scorched the Johnnies for an efficient 21 points on 7-for-12 shooting last year. The good news for St. John's is it will have considerably more depth than a year ago when six players logged all but seven minutes.

8. Temple at Kent State, 12 p.m. ET

Comment: It says a lot about the quality of this year's marathon that a matchup between two league title contenders checks in eighth on this list. This will be a difficult test for Temple, which loses big man Micheal Eric and guards Ramone Moore and Juan Fernandez from last season's 24-win NCAA tournament team.

9. Northern Illinois at Valparaiso, 8 a.m. ET

Comment: Horizon League contender Valparaiso probably would have liked a stronger opponent here than Northern Illinois, which is coming off a 5-26 season last year. If you're on the West Coast, sleep through this one. If you're on the East Coast, this is a good time to get some work done.

10. Stony Brook at Rider, 6 a.m. ET

Comment: Rider has made the 6 a.m. game in the marathon a signature of its schedule. It's a fun annual event on campus even if it's not a matchup that will draw much interest elsewhere.

11. Houston Baptist at Hawaii, 4 a.m. ET

Comment: Even friends and family may sleep through this one. Those crazy enough to try to stay awake will need a minimum of two 32-ounce Mountain Dews.

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