With NCAA Basketball in full swing, there are plenty of exciting “must see” matchups coming up this December as we round out non-conference play!
The first month of the 2023-2024 NCAA basketball season is coming to a close, and what a month it was. We’ve seen major upsets from Penn over Villanova, to a strong James Madison team overtaking the highly rated Michigan State Spartans. With one month under way, some teams are emerging as exciting programs to watch as we round out non-conference schedules and start to high some great inter conference matchups.
Below are some of the best games to watch this coming December As always with this list, keep in kind there are plenty of great games that could be on here depending on who you ask. Some great teams have emerged that aren’t on this list because finding a perfect ten with some many great games is like squeezing water from a rock, you just can’t do that. Rankings change, teams go through ebbs and flows, and storylines emerge, but this is an outside glimpse of what we know so far in the college hoops world.
So, below is a well thought out attempt of some games that will produce high level basketball and exciting fanfare.
Because there’s always some honorable mentions. There’s plenty of games here where it would be a disservice not to talk about them even hough they just barely missed the list.
#13 Fau v. #24 Illinois (Dec. 5th)
Christmas came early. Florida Atlantic had an early hiccup with a loss to Bryant in an anomaly of a game, but has otherwise performed as expected. They knocked off a solid Butler and Texas A&M team and have handily beat their other opponents minus Bryant. With four players averaging double digit points led by Vladislay Goldin at roughly 14 ppg and many other players just on the cusp of that, the Owls are the offensive juggernaut many predicted.
Illinois has also had a strong start with their only close games coming in a tight victory over an underrated Oakland team and a close loss to currently #4 Marquette. Terrence Shannon is unsurprisingly leading the way for the Fighting Illini with Dain Dainja and company close behind. Both these teams are fast and dominate offensive forces, so expect a thrilling and fast game. With a neutral site at Madison Square Garden as part of the Jimmy V Classic, this should be an electric atmosphere and game.
USC v #11 Gonzaga (Dec. 2nd)
Even without Bronny James, the USC Trojans have made a solid start to their season with losses coming to UC Irvine and Oklahoma. They have shown some depth and potential, but without one of the more anticipated starters and the two losses that do have, some of the shine has worn off. That being said, this is their chance to prove their abilities beyond James as he makes his recovery.
Mark Few has his Gonzaga Bulldogs looking their typical selves to this point with their one loss coming to Purdue. Otherwise, it has been relatively smooth sailing for the Zags. They have shown some points of mortality throughout these games, and although you might expect them to handle business against the Trojans, there’s always a chance in college basketball for the other team to win – especially when that team is one of the most efficient rosters in the NCAA.
#13 Fau v. #2 Arizona (Dec. 23rd)
Seeing Florida Atlantic go up against potentially one of the best of the best in college basketball is going to be fun simply put. This will be true especially if they can pull off their win against Illinois and stay in the win column up to this game.
Arizona has mentioned is looking impressive so far. With wins against Michigan State and Duke, the Wildcats looks like a postseason pick early on. Their issue is they’ll be coming off consecutive matchups of Wisconsin, Purdue, and Alabama before this game. However the match up well with FAU, and if there’s an offense that can overpower that of the Owls, it’s this team. The Desert Holiday Classic will open up with a bang as this neutral site game is one to look forward to around Christmas.