NCAA basketball schedule: College hoops marathon highlights a week of action

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

The annual college basketball marathon is upon us, and this year it ends with what could be a doubleheader for the ages.

If the first weekend of the season didn't quite whet your appetite for what's to come, fear not. The annual college basketball marathon tips off on Tuesday, and from there the schedule hardly slows down. After all, it's November -- the time of year for the best non-conference action. Until March, anyway.

ESPN's College Basketball Marathon

It's become an annual event, and hoopsheads couldn't be happier. If your boss is understanding of your basketball obsession, then the fun begins at 11 p.m. on Monday when BYU faces a promising Stanford team. After that, most fans will get their first look at 2013 Final Four participant and 16th-ranked Wichita State when the Shockers host Western Kentucky.

Speaking of 2013 NCAA Tournament underdogs, Dunk City returns to the national spotlight at 7 a.m. against Hartford. Florida Gulf Coast will make for some great breakfast TV for all those tired of waking up to Matt Lauer.

The action continues throughout the day with a few fun games on the schedule. Chaz Williams gets some well-deserved national recognition in the UMass-LSU game at 11 a.m., then at 5 p.m., NC State plays Cincinnati.

After that, the real fun begins. To give you some perspective on what ESPN is offering up for the nightcap, keep this in mind: VCU's havoc defense going up against in-state ACC rival Virginia has been relegated to ESPN2 and will largely be forgotten.

Because...

Randle, Parker and Wiggins take over the Champions Classic

The Champions Classic has become another annual event, but this one in Chicago might be the best yet. No. 1 meets No. 2 in the first game, as the veterans from Michigan State challenge the young and top-ranked Kentucky Wildcats.

This will be the first time that Julius Randle, the Harrison twins, Marcus Lee, James Young and Dakari Johnson face real competition. And it's not just that they're playing the second-ranked team in the country. They're facing one that has tournament experience and a ton to prove. Since Tom Izzo took over the Spartans in 1995, he has brought every four-year class to at least one Final Four. If this group, led by Keith Appling and Adrian Payne, fails to reach Dallas, the streak will be broken.

Then there's the last game. Duke and Kansas play around 10 p.m., and just the sound of that matchup is enough to get most people to watch. Throw in that each team has one of the best freshmen in the country, and even those who have already been up for more than 24 hours should be wide awake for this.

Andrew Wiggins has come to Kansas with nearly unprecedented fanfare. It's pretty much accepted that he will be the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft next summer, and Wiggins has even referred to this as his "last" year of college. Parker, meanwhile, will be playing in a home game of sorts, despite it being far from Durham. The 6'8 forward played for Simeon in Chicago and will likely have plenty of support in the building.

A statement opportunity for the Big East

Thankfully, the fun doesn't stop when the marathon ends. Perhaps the best remaining matchup of the week comes on Friday when Ohio State travels to Milwaukee to face Marquette.

It's the first year of the new Big East, and the league isn't close to what it used to be. That said, Marquette is one of the favorites in the conference, and the Golden Eagles will have a chance to make an early statement.

The Buckeyes are led by the polarizing point guard Aaron Craft, while Marquette counters with forward Davante Gardner, who had 25 points in a season opening win over Southern.

This will be one of two Big Ten battles for Marquette, with the other coming next month at Wisconsin. As of now, the Ohio State and Wisconsin games make up two of the Golden Eagles' three scheduled games against ranked opponents. Taking care of business out of conference would help legitimize Marquette's performance in its new-look league.

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