While the finish to the 2015-16 college basketball season couldn’t have been more exciting, it also signified the start to a sad six-month wait until college hoops would return to our TVs.
The end of an exciting season always feels even more abrupt when you are regular bettor on the game, as the daily reading of previews, matchup analyzing, and score monitoring that keeps you entertained every night during those dark winter months is suddenly just…over.
But it’s never too early to start analyzing your betting options for the 2016-17 season. Teams and conferences are still finalizing their schedules, but already slated are a number of early-season matchups that will kick off the new season in exciting fashion.
Here are our top college basketball games to be played in 2016 (that we know of so far).
November 15: Duke vs. Kansas
The first can’t miss matchup of the 2015-16 season is part of the Champions Classic doubleheader at Madison Square Garden. Most people’s preseason #1, Duke struggled to string together consistent performances last season, a maladie that ultimately saw them eliminated in the Sweet 16. But with a core consisting of stars like Grayson Allen returning, Duke will be bolstered by the top recruiting class in the country including the #1 and #3 overall prospects (ESPN) in Harry Giles and Jayson Tatum.
— Today's U (@TodaysUSports) May 24, 2016
The #2 prospect in the country will also be in the building and possibly on the floor. Kansas is losing a core of veteran players to the draft and graduation, but the Jayhawks are merely reloading with the likes of five-star Josh Jackson and a slew of other talented recruits joining their senior/junior backcourt of Frank Mason III and Devonte’ Graham.
November 29: Syracuse at Wisconsin
The surprise of the NCAA Tournament, Syracuse will look to improve on 2015-16’s fourteen losses. An early indicator of the Orange’s outlook will come a few days after Thanksgiving against a Wisconsin team playing their first full-season under long-time Bo Ryan assistant Greg Gard.
The Badgers return everyone from their Sweet 16 team that upset Xavier in the second round while Syracuse will still be figuring out who to play in a backcourt that lost Trevor Cooney and Michael Gbinije to graduation.
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December 10: Villanova vs. Notre Dame
The defending champion Wildcats lose two of their top scorers but return almost everyone else including National Player of the Year candidate Josh Hart. Nova, who has won nearly 90% of their games the past three seasons, will more than be in position to make another title run.
— Mike DeCesare (@MikeDeCesare) May 27, 2016
The result of a December matchup in Newark with Notre Dame could possibly play a small role in their seeding come March. The Fighting Irish lost their top two scorers but still return three that averaged double-digits on last year’s Elite 8 team.
December 3: Arizona vs. Gonzaga
The first ever Hoophall LA college basketball showcase will feature four of the west’s best teams in a December doubleheader at the Staples Center: USC vs. BYU and Arizona vs. Gonzaga.
The mid-major no one wants to play come March is losing some of their stars to the NBA, but Gonzaga will be joined by two transfers from Power 5 schools, the #5 freshman center in the country, and the return of 7’1” Przemek Karnowski for a fifth year by way of medical redshirt.
Arizona, whose 25-9 season ended disappointingly with a first-round loss to Wichita St, loses four seniors but will be aided by three top 25 recruits.
December 31: Louisville vs. Indiana
2016 will be sent out in style with a matchup featuring two of college basketball's most prestigious programs. The first of a three-year series, this NYE matchup will see the two schools clash for just the second time in 13 years despite being 100 miles apart.
— 939TheVille (@939TheVille) May 25, 2016
UL, who finished last season 23-8 but missed out on the postseason due to self-imposed sanctions, will be sorely missing some key players from that team. But the addition of grad transfer PG from Penn Tony Hicks and five-star SF V.J. King should ease those woes. Big Ten Champion Indiana are rightfully celebrating the decision for center Thomas Bryant to skip the NBA Draft as well as the return of G James Blackmon Jr. to full health.