We are mere days away from the start of the next NCAA Basketball season, with the calendar recently flipping over to November. Months of preparation and expectations have passed and we’re finally ready to see the hundreds of NCAA Basketball programs putting everything on the court.
We’ve already looked at rankings and predictions for the upcoming season, but that’s not really today’s focus. With the games about to start in the coming days, we’re going to be looking at each ranked team’s toughest in the opening month of the season. Some teams have significantly tougher November slates than others; we’re simply identifying which matchup will be most difficult.
It’s important to note that we are only considering currently scheduled games; not matchups that could transpire in holiday tournaments. There is no guarantee that these specific matchups happen, meaning we have to stick to games specifically on the schedule. Without further ado, let’s get right into each of the AP Top 25’s ranked team’s most difficult November test.
November 14 (vs. Marquette)
There’s excitement this season in Illinois, especially with Terrance Shannon Jr. and Coleman Hawkins both back, but November won’t challenge the Illini too much. They play six games during the month and every single one will be played in Champaign, five of which are against mid-major foes that shouldn’t put up a significant fight.
However, their third game of the season is against #5 Marquette as part of the Gavitt Tipoff Games. The Golden Eagles bring back an extremely talented roster after winning the Big East title last season and will be the most significant nonconference challenge for the Fighting Illini in the earlygoing. A 6-0 start is all but guaranteed if they can hold serve against Marquette in a tough mid-November test.