College basketball's 25 most intriguing non-conference games for November, December

Pat Forde
Yahoo! Sports

Unlike college football, there's still no shortage of juicy non-league matchups in basketball. The list of the 25 most intriguing out-of-conference games in November and December:

1. Kentucky at Louisville, Dec. 29: The most passionate rivalry in college basketball. Yes, Duke-North Carolina included. Reached a new level last year when the two met in the Final Four, but this one won't be far behind if the Wildcats and Cardinals maintain their preseason top-three rankings. Added bonus: The super-accomplished, alpha-male coaches detest each other. No matter what they say.

2. Indiana at Kentucky: … Wait, never mind.

3. Kansas at Ohio State, Dec. 22: Rematch of a remarkable Final Four game, in which the Jayhawks staged a late rally to reach the national title game and hand the Buckeyes a stinging defeat. Both are back in the top 10 heading into this season.

4. Championship of the Legends Classic, Nov. 20 in Brooklyn: If the favorites win, that will be Indiana and UCLA. And if Shabazz Muhammad is suited up for the Bruins while Hanner Perea and Peter Jurkin sit for the Hoosiers – well, that would certainly be an added point of discussion to an already fascinating matchup.

5. Kentucky vs. Duke, Nov. 13 in Atlanta in the Champions Classic: You may see a replay or two of a certain Christian Laettner shot leading up to this game. But they don't need the past to hype this game, because the present is pretty enticing as well.

6. North Carolina State at Michigan, Nov. 27 in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge: Tasty matchup of two programs on the rise and trying to get back where they haven't been in many years.

7. North Carolina at Indiana, Nov. 27 in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge: Same night, same leagues as Wolfpack-Wolverines. James Michael McAdoo and Cody Zeller going at each other in the paint should be a fantastic individual matchup. Might be just a few NBA scouts in Assembly Hall for that.

8. Championship of the Battle for Atlantis, Nov. 24 in the Bahamas: By seeding that would be Louisville vs. Duke, where Rick Pitino and Mike Krzyzewski could reacquaint for the first time since a March night in Philadelphia in 1992. (Which would mean more Laettner replays to come.)

9. Florida at Arizona, Dec. 15: If you need an alternative to the New Mexico Bowl or the Famous Potato Bowl, this is a good pretty good one.

10. Louisville at Memphis, Dec. 15: So is this.

[Related: College hoops' 25 most intriguing players for the 2012-13 season]

11. Ohio State at Duke, Nov. 28 in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge: This could be the Blue Devils' third November game against a 2012 Final Four team. That's some serious scheduling.

12. Semifinals of the Battle for Atlantis, Nov. 23 in the Bahamas: Could be Louisville-Missouri and Memphis-Duke. Worth the price of admission, plus whatever it costs to fly there and stay on Paradise Island.

13. Michigan State vs. Kansas, Nov. 13 in the Champions Classic in Atlanta: Rebuilding years? For Tom Izzo and Bill Self? Don't believe it.

14. UNLV at North Carolina, Dec. 29: Return game of a major upset in Vegas last season. Thing is, the Runnin' Rebels might have the horses to do it a second time if they can handle the Dean Dome.

15. San Diego State vs. Syracuse, Sunday in San Diego on the USS Midway: Game was postponed to Sunday by weather threat. Hopefully it comes off, because the North Carolina-Michigan State aircraft carrier game last year was one of the great joys of the season.

16. Championship of the Maui Invitational, Nov. 21 in Maui: Good for the soul to see the TV images of surf and sand during Thanksgiving week – but the basketball is always worth watching, too. This could be North Carolina-Texas, although the Longhorns don't know whether they'll have suspended guard Myck Kabongo by then. Others in the field include Butler, Marquette, Illinois and USC.

17. Kentucky vs. Maryland, Friday in Brooklyn: Game got a whole lot more interesting when the NCAA cleared Xavier transfer Dez Wells to play immediately for the Terrapins.

18. Missouri at UCLA, Dec. 28: Tigers will take America's quickest backcourt (if Michael Dixon is eligible) into New Pauley Pavilion to face America's most talented collegian (if Muhammad is eligible).

19. Creighton vs. Wisconsin, Nov. 23 in Las Vegas: Not easy for the Bluejays to get home or neutral-floor chances against elite teams from power conferences. Here's one opportunity, against a Badgers team that will still be trying to figure out its point guard position after the season-ending injury to Josh Gasser.

[Related: The most intriguing college basketball coaches]

20. San Diego State vs. UCLA, Dec. 1 in the Wooden Classic in Anaheim: Aztecs get their shot at the Bruins to decide who is the king of Southern California.

21. Lehigh at North Texas, Dec. 20: Two of the most talented and intriguing mid-major players squaring off in Lehigh guard C.J. McCollum against UNT power forward Tony Mitchell. Not the usual stop on the trail for NBA scouts, but they'll be in Denton for this one.

22. Baylor at Gonzaga, Dec. 28: This will be a deluxe point guard matchup of the Bears' Pierre Jackson against the Zags' Kevin Pangos.

23. Florida vs. Georgetown, Friday in Jacksonville on the USS Bataan: The other aircraft carrier game – although this one is actually the second annual Carrier Classic. (There is a third, believe it or not. Ohio State-Marquette in Charleston, S.C. Oh, and just to complete the military theme, Michigan State plays Connecticut at an Air Force base in Germany.) But the Gators are without starting point guard Scotty Wilbekin, suspended this week, and the Hoyas are an unproven entity.

Florida at Florida State, Dec. 5: The football game Nov. 24 will probably matter more, but this is a major in-state rivalry game that should see both teams ranked at the time they play.

25. Cincinnati vs. Xavier, Dec. 19 on a neutral court: By all that's holy, this must end better than last year's punching, kicking debacle.

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