ESPN’s Tip-Off Marathon: Preview and Predictions

Tip-off marathon

College basketball season will be tipping off Friday, November 11th featuring a host of games–and while I will be surely watching, every year I am most excited about ESPN’s Tip-Off Marathon which begins on Monday, November 14th and doesn’t stop until the next day. Over 24 hours straight of college basketball is a little bit like heaven, I’m sure.

For the past four years I have taken a wonderful mid-day nap in order to stay up and watch the action. Here is your guide to the tip-off marathon and what to expect if you like me, love to watch some college basketball in the wee hours of the morning.

Schedule

2016 College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon Schedule (subject to change)

Date Time (ET) Game Network
Mon, Nov 14 6 p.m. No. 4 UConn at No. 15 Florida State (women) ESPN2
  8 p.m. No. 6 Texas at No. 10 Stanford (women) ESPN2
  10 p.m. Princeton at BYU ESPN2
Tue, Nov 15 Midnight San Diego State at Gonzaga ESPN2
  2 a.m. Green Bay at Pacific ESPN2
  4:15 a.m. Florida Atlantic at Hawaii ESPN2
  6:30 a.m. Niagara at Hartford ESPN2
  8:45 a.m. Winthrop at Manhattan ESPN2
  11 a.m. Longwood at Stephen F. Austin ESPN2
  1:15 p.m. Dayton at Alabama ESPN2
  3:30 p.m. No. 10 Oregon at Baylor ESPN2
  7 p.m. State Farm Champions Classic (Madison Square Garden, New York): No. 3 Kentucky vs. No. 13 Michigan State ESPN
  9:30 p.m. State Farm Champions Classic (Madison Square Garden, New York): No. 1 Duke vs. No. 4 Kansas ESPN

Game Previews

Monday, November 14th 10 p.m. ET —Princeton at BYU

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Get to know Princeton: The Princeton Tigers were 22-7 last season after finishing 2nd in the Ivy League. Averaging 79.1 points per game Princeton was one of the better offensive teams in the country in the 2015-16 season. Princeton only graduated 1 senior who was a fringe player that only played 65 minutes last season. Returning for the Tigers are all 5 starters and their top 4 bench players.

Get to know BYU: Coming off a less than stellar 2015-16 campaign that featured losses to Portland and Pacific, the Cougars are looking to rebound this season and compete for a West Coast Conference championship. The Cougars lost NCAA triple-double record holder Kyle Collinsworth, sharpshooter Chase Fischer and big man Nate Austin to graduation. Freshman rotation player Zac Seljaas is currently serving a LDS mission in Iowa. Jordan Chatman and Jake Toolson both transferred and Corbin Kaufusi is currently playing football for Kalani Sitake.

The only returning starters from a year ago are sophomore guard Nick Emery and senior forward Kyle Davis. Both have emerged as leaders on the young team and were named captains along with senior graduate transfer L.J. Rose.

BYU adds three ESPN Top 100 freshmen to the roster in TJ Haws, Yoeli Childs and Payton Dastrup.

Haws — the younger brother of BYU’s all-time leading scorer Tyler Haws — will be a key player for the Cougars and a likely starter alongside former Lone Peak High School teammates Nick Emery and Eric Mika.

Game Prediction: Princeton 79 BYU 75

Tuesday, November 15th 12 a.m. ET– San Diego State at Gonzaga

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Get to know San Diego State: Last year, for the third straight season, San Diego State finished atop the Mountain West conference and, for the third straight season, the Aztecs lost in the championship game of the conference tournament.

San Diego State had three players honored on the preseason award list — more than any other Mountain West squad. Trey Kell, who started all 38 games last year while averaging 12.6 points, 3.7 boards and 1.4 assists, was named to preseason All-MW Team. The junior guard tallied 71 three-pointers last season at 38.4 percent shooting from beyond the arc, both of which were the best on the team. Jalen McDaniels, a 6-9, 190-pound freshman, was named the Preseason Co-Freshman of the Year. The only other player to earn that award for San Diego State? Kawhi Leonard. That’s good company to keep.

Get to know Gonzaga: Gonzaga has become a popular destination for transfers and international players, as demonstrated by former Kentucky Wildcat Kyle Wiltjer and Lithuanian Domantas Sabonis fueling last year’s run to the Sweet 16.   Those two are gone — Sabonis became the progam’s sixth first-round draft pick since 2002 — but the Zags remain stocked with quality transfers and imports.

Nigel Williams-Goss (Washington), Johnathan Williams (Missouri) and Cal graduate transfer Jordan Mathews are expected to make up three-fifths of the starting lineup, joining Polish center Przemek Karnowski and sophomore point guard Josh Perkins.

Gonzaga is well positioned, particularly if Karnowski is the Karnowski of the 2013-14 and ’14-15 seasons, to add to some impressive numbers (15 of the last 16 WCC titles, 18 straight NCAA Tournaments). The Zags might need some time to blend with the arrival of four transfers and Karnowski’s return from back surgery, but the roster is packed with talent.

Game Prediction: San Diego State 66 Gonzaga 55

Tuesday, November 15th 2 a.m. ET– Green Bay at Pacific

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Get to know Green Bay: This is the second year in a row that the Phoenix are taking part in the Tip-off Marathon, losing last year to ETSU 103-90. Green Bay was picked to finish third in the Horizon League, a challenging mid-major conference. Keep an eye on Charles Cooper, the high-flying senior finds himself on the Preseason First Team All-League after posting solid numbers as a junior last season. Cooper burst on the season for the Phoenix, starting all 36 games and finishing second on the team in scoring at 13.6 PPG. He led the team in free throws made (160) and attempted (232), all while finishing second on the team in rebounding at 5.5 RPG.

Get to know Pacific: I’m excited to see what Pacific brings to the court this season. They were not good last season, posting a 8-20 (6-12 in WCC) record good for a three-way tie for seventh place in conference. The reason I’m excited, is to see first year coach Damon Stoudamire coach his first home game for the Tigers. A great college and professional basketball player, Stoudamire can be the type of coach to turn this team around. The Tigers return 11 of their top 13 scorers from a year ago. Ray Bowles (11.1 ppg) and T.J. Wallace (10.8 ppg) ranked second and third, respectively, in scoring.

Stoudamire is not the only new Tiger with NBA ties. Pacific freshman guard K.J. Smith is the son of former NBA guard and current Inside the NBA on TNT analyst Kenny “The Jet” Smith. The elder Smith also serves as an analyst for CBS/Turner during the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament.

Game Prediction: Green Bay 77 Pacific 59

Tuesday November 15th, 4:15 a.m. ET–Florida Atlantic at Hawaii

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Get to know Florida Atlantic: Florida Atlantic hasn’t made the NCAA Tournament since 2002, their only appearance in the Big Dance. Coming off of a 8-25 (5-13) record last season, the Owls are looking to reach “.500” says coach Michael Curry. The Owls lost four players at the end of last season, three to graduation and one transfer. I wouldn’t expect much out of this team in 2016-17, but in college basketball, you never know.

Get to know Hawaii: I watched over 10 Hawaii games last season. They were a fun team to watch and I knew they were going to make a NCAA Tourney run–which they did, making it to the Sweet 16 as a #13 seed. This year’s team will look completely different. The Rainbow Warriors return just four letterwinners from last year’s squad that produced a school-record 28-6 record. Senior forward Mike Thomas, who started all 34 games last year, is set to redshirt this year. That leaves UH without a single returning starter from last year’s NCAA Tournament squad. The ‘Bows will field an entirely new starting lineup this year, something which hasn’t happened in nearly four decades.

Hawai’i is more than three weeks into practice under the direction of second-year head coach Eran Ganot. Ten newcomers join this year’s squad made up of five freshman, four junior college transfers and one Division I transfer. The ‘Bows look to transfers Noah Allen, Gibson Johnson, and Larry Lewis Jr. for an immediate impact, as well as redshirt sophomore Jack Purchase, who sat out for the Rainbow Warriors last year as a Division I transfer.

Game Prediction: Florida Atlantic 63 Hawaii 71

Tuesday November 15th, 6:30 a.m. ET–Niagara at Hartford

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Get to know Niagara: The Purple Eagles return six letter winners from last season’s team including All-MAAC Third Team selection Matt Scott, who was named to the 2016-17 Preseason All-Big Four First Team, and sophomores Dominic Robb, Marvin Prochet and Chris Barton. The last three season have been rough to say the least, the Purple Eagles have gone 22-73 after having made the NCAA Tournament or the NIT 5 of the previous 10 years.

Get to know Hartford: The Hawks return six regulars from the rotation at season’s end – senior Jalen Ross, junior Jack Hobbs and sophomores J.R. Lynch, George Blagojevic, Dunne and Wilkerson – in addition to getting John Carroll back into the fold after he missed all but five games last year due to injury. The squad also features the addition of Max Twyman, who sat out last year due to NCAA transfer rules, and newcomers Hassan Attia, Andrew Ramirez and Nikola Colovic.

Game Prediction: Niagara 55 Hartford 57

Marathon Notes:

  • Five men’s teams are ranked in Eamonn Brennan’s com early preseason top 25 poll, including the entire State Farm Champions Classic field.
    • 10 Oregon travels to Baylor at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday to cap off ESPN2’s coverage
  • Schedule highlights include opening the Marathon on the men’s side with Princeton at BYU at 10 p.m. on Monday (ESPN2) and beginning the day on Tuesday, at midnight, with San Diego State at Gonzaga (ESPN2)
  • Fifteen men’s teams participated in 2016 postseason play in the NCAA Championship (11) and NIT (4).
    • Kansas and Oregon advanced to the Elite Eight, while Gonzaga earned a trip to the Sweet 16
    • Second-round participants included Duke, Hawaii, Kentucky and Stephen F. Austin, while first-round teams were Baylor, Dayton, Green Bay and Michigan State
    • BYU and San Diego State both advanced to the NIT semifinals, while Alabama and Princeton earned berths
  • All four women’s teams participating in Monday’s Marathon are ranked in com Way-to-early Top 25 that was issued following the 2016 Women’s Final Four.
    • Four-time defending national champion and No. 4-ranked UConn plays at Sweet 16 participant and No. 15-ranked Florida State at 6 p.m. (ESPN2)
    • The second game of the Marathon pits Elite Eight participants No. 6 Texas against No. 10 Stanford at 8 p.m. (ESPN2)
  • Sixteen conferences are represented including three appearances from the Big 12 and West Coast Conference, and two each from the Atlantic Coast, Big South, Metro Atlantic, Pac-12 and Southeastern.
    • Additional appearances include America East, American, Atlantic 10, Big Ten, Big West, Conference USA, Horizon, Ivy, Mountain West and Southland

Stay tuned for the rest of the preview and predictions for ESPN’s Tip-Off Marathon. You can follow Dan on Twitter @FFSportsTalk and watch him live tweet during the marathon.

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