The Associated Press released its preseason college basketball Top 25 poll Monday morning, and it was no surprise to see it topped by Kansas, Kentucky, Gonzaga and Duke, in that order.
Now that the poll is out, we can begin hyping the top games of the non-conference season, which is the second-most-exciting part of college basketball season.
These are all the games played by preseason Top 10 teams against the Top 25. All times eastern.
No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 10 Michigan State
When and where: 7 p.m., Nov. 6, Indianapolis, Ind.
Bill Self and Tom Izzo have a rivalry that goes back to when Self was still at Illinois. Since Self got to Kansas in 2003, they’ve played each other in a series of high-profile non-conference games and have also taken turns ending each other’s seasons in March.
This is the deepest team Self has had in years, and the Jayhawks will carry a talent advantage into this one — but that doesn’t always matter in these matchups.
No. 2 Kentucky vs. No. 4 Duke
When and where: 9:30 p.m., Nov. 6, Indianapolis, Ind.
Without question, this is the premiere matchup of the first semester of college basketball season. Duke’s Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett get to face second-ranked Kentucky right out the shoot, and we’ll all get a good first look at the biggest question facing Duke this season: Who, exactly, is going to do the 3-point shooting for this team?
No. `19 Michigan at No. 9 Villanova
When and where: 6:30 p.m., Nov. 14, Philadelphia
This is a rematch of the national championship game from last year, and Michigan has a good change of getting Villanova back.
Villanova lost a lot off last year’s national championship team. Jalen Brunson, Mikal Bridges, Donte DiVencenzo and Omari Spellman are all off to the pros, but Phil Booth and Eric Paschall should be ready to step into larger roles, and coach Jay Wright landed a sought-after graduate transfer in Joe Cremo, who came from Albany.
The Wolverines are replacing three starters, but Charles Matthews, who broke out during the NCAA Tournament, is back after testing the NBA waters and Jordan Poole should be ready to take on more of a scoring load too.
No. 10 Michigan State vs. No. 21 UCLA
When and where: 10 p.m., Nov. 22, Las Vegas
Michigan State’s two best players, Miles Bridges and Jaren Jackson, are gone. While replacing a pair of lottery picks is not nothing, the Spartans didn’t lose any other major contributors from last year’s 30-5 team.
UCLA expects to compete for a Pac-12 title this year, and a star-studded recruiting class makes that a real possibility. The Bruins are young, though, and this may be a bit early in the year for them to handle a Tom Izzo team.
No. 8 North Carolina at No. 19 Michigan
When and where: 9 p.m., Nov. 28, Ann Arbor, Mich.
North Carolina is Luke Maye’s team now, and after a junior season in which he averaged 17-10, that’s not a bad thing. The Tar Heels also have a nice collection of outside shooters and three ballyhooed freshmen to make this another North Carolina team that should be in the hunt for a Final Four.
This should be an interesting matchup for 7-foot-1 Michigan center John Teske, who replaces Mo Wagner in the Wolverines lineup. He’s more of a traditional center than Wagner, and could give North Carolina trouble at one of its more vulnerable positions.