Five Weekend Games to Watch

Brandon Triche leads Syracuse (US PRESSWIRE)

College basketball is back. Remember the old days when the season didn't start until after Thanksgiving and the menu was full of cupcake matchups? The cupcakes are still out there, but a salute to our troops highlights the first weekend now. After all, it is Veteran's Day weekend.

So, we offer up our five games to watch this weekend. Pay attention because four of these games are played Friday night. But our top matchup, a game that features two of the top 20 teams in the preseason Associated Press poll, was moved from Friday to Sunday – because of weather.

Here's this weekend's must-see TV:

No. 9 Syracuse vs. No. 20 San Diego State (Sunday, 4 p.m., FOX Sports)

The Battle on the Midway has already made history – at least as far as we can remember. The Orange and the Aztecs have already had their opener postponed by a forecast of rain and windy conditions. That's one of the dangers when you play outdoors. Originally scheduled for Friday, this game now will be played Sunday in San Diego Harbor. It's the only game this weekend featuring two teams ranked in the preseason polls. Brandon Triche is Syracuse's prime time senior. San Diego State guard Jamaal Franklin was Mountain West player of the year last season. Coaches Jim Boeheim and Steve Fisher both have national championship rings. Put this game on the flight deck of a retired aircraft carrier on Veteran's Day and it is definitely worth the wait. Good stuff.

No. 3 Kentucky vs. Maryland (Friday, 8:30 p.m., ESPN)

There's no truth to the rumor that, in the event of a Kentucky loss, coach John Calipari will stay in Brooklyn and take another shot at coaching the NBA Nets. This game is part of the Barclay's Center Classic, a pretty decent matchup for college basketball's debut at the shiny new building in Brooklyn, N.Y. We get our first look at the new group of Cal's Kids, led by Nerlens Noel, Archie Goodwin and Alex Poythress. Maryland will be pumped up after former Xavier player Dez Wells was just cleared to play. Terps coach Mark Turgeon has an improved team so don't just assume this is an easy W for the Wildcats. Before the game, Calipari will present a check for almost $1 million to help in relief efforts for people impacted by Storm Sandy. Two telethons in Kentucky raised the funds. Guess you can't hate on Cal all the time.

UConn's Omar Calhoun (US PRESSWIRE)

Connecticut vs. No. 14 Michigan State (Friday, 5:30 p.m., ESPN)

A regular season men's college basketball game will be played overseas for the first time as the Armed Forces Classic will be held at Ramstein Air Base in Germany. The Huskies and Spartans will take care of business in an airplane hanger on the base in Europe that has become the hub for almost everything that happens with our military in that area. The teams were in place by Wednesday and have been interacting with the troops, visiting hospitals and getting an inside look at military operations. Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said he likes the dose of reality that comes with these events. For first-year UConn coach Kevin Ollie, who is replacing Jim Calhoun, everything right now is a dose of reality. He's worried about Michigan State point guard Keith Appling but the Spartans will have their hands full with UConn's Shabazz Napier, Ryan Boatright and freshman Omar Calhoun (no relation to the Hall of Fame coach, who will be there, handling color commentary on the UConn radio network).

Georgetown vs. No. 10 Florida (Friday, 9 p.m., NBC Sports Network)

Could there be a better fit than Florida coach Billy Donovan and an amphibious assault ship? Donovan's Gators and the Hoyas will meet in Jacksonville on the deck of the USS Bataan. When Donovan got a look at the ship, he immediately asked about the gun turret. Donovan was a three-point gunner during his playing days at Providence, so that combination seems perfect. The Gators will be without starting point guard Scottie Wilbekin, suspended indefinitely for an undisclosed reason, and swingman Casey Prather, who has a concussion. Don't overlook Georgetown in this contest. By the end of the game the nation should know the name Otto Porter. He is a not-so-secret weapon available to coach John Thompson III. With wind and tempearatures in the 50s, condensation on the court is a concern. Hopefully this won't become basketball on an ice skating rink.

Gators coach Billy Donovan

No. 4 Ohio State vs. Marquette (Friday, 7 p.m., NBC Sports Network)

The court on the USS Yorktown, a carrier turned naval museum in Charleston, S.C., will have a mesh backing at one end – just a few feet from the basket. That is expected to stop irregularly high rebounds or bad passes from landing in the water about 30 feet below. "After watching us pass the ball in practice, I hope they'll have some extra ones," Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. Matta and Marquette coach Buzz Williams were in awe when they got their chances to check out the setup. Ohio State will set sail on a new season without stars Jared Sullinger and William Buford, who helped the Buckeyes to the Final Four last season, but Deshan Thomas and Thomas and Aaron Craft should provide smooth sailing. Marquette is dealing with the loss of guard Todd Mayo, who is academically ineligible and will not play against the Buckeyes.

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