Best of the B1G: Top November Non-Conference Games

Posted by Brendan Brody on October 26th, 2015

Despite the large number of games involving Big Ten teams during the first weekend of college basketball, things don’t really get going until the the following Tuesday of ESPN’s Tip-Off Marathon as the Gavitt Games (including Maryland, Penn State and Nebraska) and the Champions Classic (Michigan State) tip off. Much of the best non-conference action will come from the former event, which will pit the Big Ten against the Big East for eight games over four days. In chronological order, here’s a look at most of the marquee Big Ten match-ups during the first month of the season.  Potential late-round games in holiday tournaments are also included with an assumption that brackets will hold true to form.

November 17

  • Maryland-Georgetown: Lofty preseason expectations for Maryland aside, this one is going to be absolutely huge within the Beltway. These two teams — located just 10 miles apart in the DC area — should play every year, so it’s a treat to get this match-up so early in the season.
  • Michigan State-Kansas: The Spartans can make an early statement here, as both teams have legitimate national expectations coming into the season. Whether you are looking for veterans who have seemingly been in college for 27 years (Denzel Valentine and Perry Ellis), or rookie superstars (Devonta Davis and Cheick Diallo), this one will be worth watching.
Denzel Valentine Is Back For A Final Season In Spartan Green And White (Photo: USAT Sports)

Denzel Valentine Is Back For A Final Season In Spartan Green And White (Photo: USAT Sports)

November 18

  • Illinois-Providence: Part of the Gavitt Games, the Illini will have a difficult test without Kendrick Dunn as they travel to Rhode Island to take on consensus preseason All-American Kris Dunn.

November 19

  • Iowa-Marquette: Marquette is a program on the rise after landing blue-chipper Henry Ellenson in Steve Wojciechowski’s second season. Meanwhile, Iowa could pick up a nice early-season notch on its resume before heading to Florida later in the month for the Advocare Invitational.

November 20

  • Wisconsin-Georgetown: Wisconsin plays Georgetown for the second year in a row after beating the Hoyas by three at the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament last season. D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera is back in DC after pouring in 29 points against the Badgers last year.
  • Michigan-Xavier: Two borderline Top 25 teams with Michigan getting the boost of playing in Ann Arbor. This is a great chance for the Wolverines to grab an early resume win in an effort to stake a very different early season path than a year ago.

November 22

  • *Purdue-Florida: Both teams would have to win their opening round games in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament for this contest to happen, but if they do, the Boilermakers should get a solid early test playing a Florida team with something to prove under new head coach Mike White.
  • Wisconsin-Duke/VCU: Depending on what happens on the 20th, Wisconsin will either play in a 2k Classic rematch of the National Championship game against the retooled Blue Devils, or a game against a VCU team hellbent on continuing the magic of Havoc under new head coach Will Wade.
Even without Jahlil Okafor or Frank Kaminsky, a Wisconsin-Duke rematch is worth watching(AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Even without Jahlil Okafor or Frank Kaminsky, a Wisconsin-Duke rematch is worth watching. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

November 23

  • Northwestern-North Carolina: This is by far the best team the Wildcats will play before conference play begins. If they could pull off a massive upset here, it will go a long ways towards ending the NCAA Tournament drought.

November 24

  • *Indiana-Vanderbilt: Vandy has to beat St. John’s and Indiana must defeat Wake Forest in the opening round of the Maui Invitational for this one to happen. If it does, Thomas Bryant will be challenged by an individual match-up with potential lottery pick Damian Jones.

November 25

  • Michigan-Connecticut: Two teams that look even on paper will take the court in the first round of the Battle 4 Atlantis. Can Derrick Walton Jr. and Caris LeVert get the best of Daniel Hamilton and Rodney Purvis?
  • *Indiana-Kansas/UCLA/UNLV: Indiana will almost definitely face one of these three teams in its final game in Maui. The potential game with Kansas sells itself, but match-ups against former Hoosiers’ legend Steve Alford or a UNLV team loaded with young talent would also offer intrigue.

November 26

  • Iowa-Dayton: Two evenly-matched potential NCAA Tournament teams will play in the first round of the Advocare Invitational. It’s looking like Dayton might be moving forward without Dyshawn Pierre, but there are plenty of other Flyers’ weapons available.

November 27

  • *Michigan-Gonzaga: Much would have to break right in the Battle 4 Atlantis bracket for this game to happen, but the contrast of Gonzaga’s dominant frontcourt — led by Kyle Wiltjer and Damontas Sabonis — with Michigan’s perimeter-heavy attack, would be a case study in differing styles.

November 29

  • Wisconsin-Oklahoma: The Badgers get another return match-up, this time against Oklahoma after besting them in the Battle 4 Atlantis championship game last year. The Sooners have four starters back and will be looking for payback as Buddy Hield launches his All-America campaign.
  • *Iowa-Wichita State and Michigan State-Arizona: If Iowa makes the final in Florida, the Hawkeyes could play Wichita State. Meanwhile, two bluebloods could square off in the finals of the Wooden Legacy, where the Spartans would have the chance to nab a championship game tilt against Arizona.
Brendan Brody (307 Posts)

Brendan Brody is in his fourth season covering the Big Ten for RTC. Email him at, or follow him on twitter @berndon4.

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