SEC Weekend Preview: Opening Night Edition

Posted by David Changas on November 10th, 2017

It has been a long time since there has been so much excitement surrounding the start of SEC basketball. With so many of the league’s football programs struggling and the promise of widespread improvement across the conference on the hardwood — not to mention the specter of an ongoing FBI investigation hanging over a few schools — everyone is ready to start playing. As we open the season at 13 of the SEC’s 14 schools tonight, let’s look ahead to this evening’s most intriguing match-ups:

  • Texas A&M vs. West Virginia – ESPN, 6:00 PM. This is the marquee game of opening night, as the #25 Aggies take on Bob Huggins’ #11 Mountaineers at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany. Texas A&M gets an early chance to show that last season’s downturn was a momentary blip on its long-term trajectory, but it will have to do so without potential lottery pick Robert Williams, who is serving a two-game suspension for a violation of university policy. Freshman point guard JJ Caldwell is also suspended for the team’s first five games after an offseason arrest charge that was later dropped. That leaves it up to junior forward Tyler Davis to lead the Aggies in what promises to be a very difficult match-up with a Big 12 heavyweight.

Alabama received the good news that Collin Sexton will return next week against Lipscomb (

  • Memphis vs. Alabama, 6:30 PM. The Crimson Tide will also get an early test against a rebuilding Memphis team at the Veterans Classic in Annapolis. Although Alabama got news late Thursday that highly acclaimed freshman Collin Sexton will only sit out tonight’s game and can return on Tuesday against Lipscomb, Memphis is a dangerous team to play at less than full strength. Still, this is a major development for Avery Johnson as it appeared earlier in the week that Sexton, a consensus top-10 player in the class of 2017, may not ever suit up for the Tide.

  • Utah Valley at Kentucky – SEC, 7:00 PM. Wolverines’ head coach Mark Pope, a key member of the 1996 National Champions at Kentucky, brings his team to Lexington for the first showcase of the latest set of young and talented Wildcats. This is John Calipari‘s youngest group yet, and, as usual, it will debut in front of a packed Rupp Arena crowd anxious to see what the future holds.
  • Norfolk State at Auburn – 8:00 PM. This game by itself might not be very enticing, but given ESPN reporter Mark Schlabach’s news on Wednesday that head coach Bruce Pearl‘s job may be in jeopardy because he is not cooperating with the school’s investigation, followed by Pearl’s apology on Thursday evening, things are very interesting on the Plains. Sophomores Danjel Purifoy and Austin Wiley are being held out indefinitely for the Tigers, and at this point, it appears unlikely that either will ever suit up again for Auburn.
  • Iowa State at Missouri – SEC, 9:00 PM. It would have been very hard to fathom a year ago that any attention would be paid to a Missouri basketball opener. Instead, a year later, this game will be well-tracked as consensus 2017 high school Player of the Year Michael Porter, Jr. will makes his collegiate debut for new head coach Cuonzo Martin. If Porter even comes close to living up to his considerable hype, things will be very exciting in Columbia this winter. The Tigers should get a solid test from a reloading group of Cyclones.
David Changas (166 Posts)

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