The 2015-16 college hoops season may officially begin on Friday, Nov. 13, but for most fans, the unofficial start of every season has become the ESPN tipoff marathon. The schedule for this year's marathon, which begins on the evening of Nov. 16 and concludes about 31 hours later, has been released and is once again quite loaded.
Here are the 10 best tilts on the 2015 tip-off marathon slate (team rankings are ESPN's):
1. No. 3 Kentucky vs. No. 6 Duke (Tuesday - 7:30 p.m./ESPN)
Since its inception, the Champion's Classic has become the tip-off marathon's main event, and this year's installment is no different. The first of the evening's two showdowns from the United Center will feature the defending national champions from Durham against a Kentucky squad that still believes the Devils' national championship trophy should be resting in Lexington.
2. Georgetown at No. 1 Maryland (Tuesday - 9 p.m./ESPN2)
The Terps might not be the No. 1 team in the country when the two major preseason polls come out in a couple of months, but they will almost certainly be top five. Their first major test in proving their worth as a legitimate national title contender will come in the form of a Georgetown squad that could also carry a national ranking into that game.
3. No. 5 Kansas vs. No. 19 Michigan State (Tuesday - 10 p.m./ESPN)
The "main event" of this year's Champion's Classic should be fantastic as always, even if it probably should be the undercard. Both of these teams will be in the thick of things come March, which means one of them is going to pick up a relatively insignificant mid-November win that will sparkle on their tournament resume a few months later.
4. No. 8 Oklahoma at Memphis (Tuesday - 5 p.m./ESPN)
It's no secret that Josh Pastner needs to produce a big season in order to restore his reputation in The Bluff City. Knocking off Buddy Hield and a Sooner squad that figures to start 2015-16 ranked in the top 10 would be a solid initial step.
5. San Diego State at No. 13 Utah (Monday - 9:30 p.m./ESPN2)
SDSU has emerged to fill the role of the unexpected West Coast power that Utah laid claim to in the '90s and early 2000s. Now, the Utes feel like they're on the verge of reclaiming that title, which makes this now-recurring early season rivalry game even more intriguing than it would be otherwise.
6. No. 4 Virginia at George Washington (Monday - 7:30 p.m./ESPN2)
Virginia pasted George Washington by 17 last season, and actually hasn't lost to the Colonials since 1974. GW would have been a trendy preseason pick to win the A-10 had it not been for the ill-timed transfer of Kethan Savage to Butler.
7. No. 17 Baylor at Oregon (Monday - 11:30 p.m./ESPN2)
Both teams return their top six scorers from squads that made the NCAA Tournament a season ago. Baylor is looking to make its fans forget about a stunning first-round loss to Georgia State, while the Ducks are hoping to build off a season which ended with a hard-fought second-round loss to eventual national runner-up Wisconsin.
8. Kennesaw State at LSU (Monday - 9 p.m./ESPNU)
The opponent might not be ideal, but a first look at potential top NBA Draft pick Ben Simmons is going to be worth at least some of everyone's time on Nov. 16.
9. Alabama at Dayton (Tuesday - 1 p.m./ESPN)
Avery Johnson has it rolling on the recruiting trail right now, and he'll get a shot to prove to Crimson Tide fans that he can get results on the court sooner than they think by taking down Archie Miller and Dayton inside UD Arena. The Flyers have won five NCAA Tournament games in the last two seasons, and figure to be right in the mix to win the Atlantic 10 once again.
10. Colorado at Auburn (Tuesday - 3 p.m./ESPN)
It might not be quite as entertaining as the 1 a.m. Bruce Pearl we were treated to a year ago, but Tuesday afternoon Bruce Pearl ain't bad either.
Here's the complete schedule for thus year's marathon:
2015 College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon Schedule
|Mon, Nov 16||5:30 p.m.||No. 1 UConn at No. 13 Ohio State (women)||ESPN2|
|7:30 p.m.||No. 4 Virginia at George Washington||ESPN2|
|9 p.m.||Legends Classic: Kennesaw State at LSU||ESPNU|
|9:30 p.m.||San Diego State at No. 13 Utah||ESPN2|
|11:30 p.m.||No. 17 Baylor at Oregon||ESPN2|
|Tue, Nov 17||1:45 a.m.||BYU at Long Beach State||ESPN2|
|4 a.m.||Nevada at Hawaii||ESPN2|
|6 a.m.||Green Bay at East Tennessee State||ESPN2|
|8 a.m.||Stephen F. Austin at Northern Iowa||ESPN2|
|10 a.m.||Valparaiso at Rhode Island||ESPN2|
|1 p.m.||Alabama at Dayton||ESPN|
|3 p.m.||Colorado at Auburn||ESPN|
|5 p.m.||No. 8 Oklahoma at Memphis||ESPN|
|7:30 p.m.||State Farm Champions Classic (United Center, Chicago): No. 3 Kentucky vs. No. 6 Duke||ESPN|
|9 p.m.||Georgetown at No. 1 Maryland||ESPN2|
|10 p.m.||State Farm Champions Classic (United Center, Chicago): No. 5 Kansas vs. No. 19 Michigan State||ESPN