The 2021-22 college basketball season is about a month in already. Over the first 30 days or so, fans have seen some crazy things happen. The ACC is struggling as a conference outside of Duke. Memphis is underplaying their expectations. And Big 12 preseason last-place, Iowa State, sits at an unbeaten 8-0. Outside of individual performances of teams, the amount of elite matchups during the non-con part of the season is outstanding.
Fans got to see Gonzaga-UCLA, Duke-Kentucky, Villanova-UCLA, Texas-Gonzaga, Duke-Gonzaga. The list goes on and on. With non-conference play still going on until the beginning of January, there are still plenty of great games to look out for. Here is a list of a couple of remaining non-conference games that are must-watch television.
#14 Houston vs #9 Alabama- Saturday December 11th, 10:00pm EST
This will be a dogfight of a game. A battle of top-15 teams will wrap up the night this Saturday. Houston comes into the matchup 8-1 on the season, coming off of a win against Alcorn State. The Cougars are a well-disciplined basketball team that plays hard-nosed defense. Their offense is led by junior Marcus Sasser, who played a Robin role to Quentin Grimes last season. This year, Sasser leads Houston in scoring with 17.7 PPG.
Alabama is one of the hottest teams in the country right now. Coming off their win against Gonzaga last Saturday, the Crimson Tide come into their game with Houston 7-1 on the season. They have wins against Lousiana Tech, Drake, and Gonzaga. Nate Oats usually plays an eight-man rotation on any given night. JD Davison is the star off the bench, Alabama’s top 2021 five-star recruit. The start of the show in Tuscaloosa is Jaden Shackelford, who dropped 28 points in their win on Saturday night against the Bulldogs.
Jaden Shackelford vs Marcus Sasser is going to be a show on the offensive end.
#6 Villanova vs #2 Baylor- Sunday December 12th, 3:00pm EST
Villanova has already gone on the road to play UCLA. They will now have to go to Waco and face the Baylor Bears. The Wildcats already have two losses this year, coming from UCLA and Purdue. Both of these games were hard-fought, which is what I expect on Sunday against Baylor. Even when the Wildcat offense isn’t clicking, they lean on their defense to keep them in games. Super-senior Collin Gillespie leads this squad averaging 17.3 PPG this season.
Baylor should be the favorite to win this game at home. The Bears offense averages 84 points per game but will run into a well-oiled machine in Villanova. Kendall Brown is a superstar for Scott Drew. The freshman is averaging 13.4 PPG and is shooting at a very high level. He will be a key on both ends of the floor when he faces the backcourt of Collin Gillespie and Justin Moore.
Baylor is a guard-heavy team with a bunch of athleticism. You are in for a treat on Sunday afternoon.
#5 Gonzaga vs Texas Tech- Saturday December 18th, 1:00pm EST
This may not seem like a great game to some, but with Texas Tech’s defensive ability, this has the potential to be a great game. Since Gonzaga has lost to Duke, the gaps with this team are visible. Even with the Bulldogs getting exposed in some areas, they still have the Player of the Year favorite, Drew Timme. The junior leads the team in scoring on the blocks, but players like Andrew Nembhard, Chet Holmgren, and Julian Strawther are names not to be put aside. Gonzaga’s offense gels so well, which has been already shown this season.
Texas Tech may be known this season for their game against Tennesee, given that the offense looked ugly all game. Not looking at that game, this Red Raiders team is deep and plays intense defense. Texas Tech is only giving up 58 PPG to opponents so far this season. Terrence Shannon Jr is the leader of this team, averaging 16.8 PPG. This matchup is sneaky good because of the depth of Texas Tech. All but one of their rostered players average 10 minutes or more this season.
#4 UCLA vs North Carolina- Saturday December 18th, 3:00pm EST
This game between the Bruins and Tar Heels is happening back-to-back with Gonzaga-Texas Tech. As we all know, UCLA brings back every one of significance for the 2021-22 season. Mick Cronin and the crew have shown they are a top team in the country, except for their showing against Gonzaga. A high-flying offense led by the trio of Johnny Juzang, Jaime Jaquez, and Jules Bernard. The way the Bruins can go on runs makes them a fun team to watch.
North Carolina has shown that they are capable of winning big games. Picking apart Michigan in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge, and beating Georiga Tech, the Tar Heels are 6-2 heading into this big-time matchup. The presence of Armando Bacot down low is going to be huge in this game. RJ Davis and Caleb Love are a great duo, as is Oklahoma transfer Brady Manek and Marquette transfer Dawson Garcia.
The containment of Bacot down low will be a big key for the Bruins. North Carolina will have to force some of the UCLA guards into some tough shots if they want to win the game. Limiting transition opportunities for both teams will be big as well.
Honorable Mention List
#11 Arizona vs Illinois- Saturday December 11th, 5:00pm EST
#7 Texas vs #23 Seton Hall- Thursday December 9th, 6:30pm EST
Colorado State vs #9 Alabama- Tuesday December 21st, 7:00pm EST
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