It just wouldn't be November basketball without a few marquee games at the World's Most Famous Arena. In the 2013 2K Sports Classic, a championship battle between Connecticut and Indiana could be one of those games, provided the Huskies can beat Boston College and the Hoosiers can take down Washington.
The championship rounds will play out at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 21 and 22, after all four teams play two on-campus games apiece.
Nov. 21: Boston College vs. Connecticut (7 p.m., ESPN2); Indiana vs. Washington (9:30 p.m., ESPN2)
Nov. 22: Third Place Game (5 p.m.); Championship Game (7:30 p.m.)
Times listed in ET
The Favorite: Connecticut
While this tournament promises to be fun for fans of all four teams, those in the Nutmeg State will have the most to watch for in the 2K Sports Classic. The Huskies come into the season with a chip on their shoulders after a postseason ban last year barred the surprisingly successful team from the NCAA Tournament. It is also their first year in the American Athletic Conference after being passed up by the ACC during last year's conference realignment.
This tournament will be an early chance for the Huskies to prove they belong with the best, and that will start with a semifinal game against a New England rival. When Boston College left the Big East, then-UConn coach Jim Calhoun vowed to never schedule the Eagles in a non-conference game. As a result, the two teams have not played each other since 2005. Renewing the rivalry at the site of the Big East Tournament will only add to the intrigue.
The Huskies also enter the season with nearly their entire roster intact from last year, plus a few more pieces added to the mix. Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright will combine to make one of the best backcourts in the country. Napier has been the Huskies' starting point guard since taking over for Kemba Walker in 2011 and has had a flare for the dramatic throughout his career. Add in sophomore Omar Calhoun and junior DeAndre Daniels, both of whom showed vast improvement throughout last season, and UConn suddenly becomes a dangerous team.
Freshman Kentan Facey and transfer Lasan Kromah should also make an immediate impact for the Huskies.
Also contenders: Indiana
The Huskies might be the favorites, but don't count out the Hoosiers. Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo left gaping holes for Indiana to fill, but coach Tom Crean has made Bloomington once again a premiere destination for the game's top recruits. Five-star forward Noah Vonleh leads a monster Indiana recruiting class that also includes four-star prospects Luke Fischer, Stanford Robinson and Troy Williams. Those four will join Yogi Ferrell and Will Sheehey on what figures to be a young but talented team.
The Hoosiers earned a No. 1 seed in last year's NCAA Tournament and advanced to the Sweet 16 before falling to Syracuse. They'll be tested early with their game against Washington, which features a freshman phenom of its own in Nigel Williams-Goss.
Potential Upset: Washington over Indiana
OK, it wouldn't be a monumental upset. But it can happen. The Huskies return top scorer C.J. Wilcox along with Andrew Andrews to anchor the backcourt while Williams-Goss challenges both for time on the court. Talented guard play often spells trouble against young teams like Indiana who have yet to establish a true identity. Lorenzo Romar's teams are almost always competitive, and this year should be no different.
Something to prove: Boston College
The Eagles were also almost entirely freshmen and sophomores last year, so there is a wealth of talent returning. Given how much young guys like Oliver Hanlan and Ryan Anderson played last year, it's reasonable to expect them to seem even more experienced than they are. UConn's Napier and Boatright are known for trying to do a little too much when the Huskies fall behind, so if Boston College can establish itself early, an upset isn't entirely out of the question.