College Basketball Watch List: 15 Early Games To Look For

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Indiana's Xavier Johnson dribbles during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against North Carolina, Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022, in Bloomington, Ind.
(AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Chase Kiddy @chaseakiddy Oct 17, 2023, 1:03 PM

If you’re not yet excited for college hoops, you should be. The college basketball season is just right around the corner, with single-game basketball odds coming soon at the BetMGM online sportsbook.

College Basketball Watch List

College basketball is my favorite sport, so I was eager to dive into the early nonconference portion of the schedule and pull out some fun national games to circle on my calendar. 

Here are a few games I’m looking forward to from the first month of the season:

USC vs. Kansas State (Nov. 6)

Bronny James certainly had the highest profile of USC’s incoming freshmen and transfer players, but he is by no means the only new impact player. Andy Enfield’s squad will get an early test at the Hall of Fame Series in Las Vegas. Jerome Tang’s Kansas State team won 26 games and finished No. 15 in last season’s AP Poll.

Auburn vs. Baylor  (Nov. 7)

A 2019 Final Four program will match the 2021 national champion in a contest of potential top-40 teams. This is the start of Bruce Pearl’s 10th year as head coach at Auburn.

Florida Atlantic vs. Loyola Chicago (Nov. 8)

FAU kept its team together and checked into this year’s preseason AP Poll at No. 10. Loyola might have regressed to the mean after its incredible NCAA Tournament performances from years ago, but this will still offer the public a fun first viewing of the Owls. 

Arizona at Duke (Nov. 10)

Mark your calendars for the first major showdown of the year. Kyle Filipowski (Duke), Caleb Love (Arizona), and Oumar Ballo (Arizona) are all early players to watch in the Wooden Award odds market.  

Xavier at Purdue (Nov. 13)

With last season’s consensus national player of the year returning, Purdue should be a major target for early viewing. Purdue basketball odds were a sharp betting target this offseason.

Michigan State vs. Duke (Nov. 14)

Duke’s early offseason schedule is no joke, as Michigan State will serve as the Blue Devils’ second major opponent in the first 10 days of the season. It’s around this time that college basketball fans start to remember how much better (and underappreciated) its nonconference schedule is than college football.

Marquette at Illinois (Nov. 14)

Both Marquette and Illinois have made each of the last two NCAA Tournaments, which means this is likely a quality opponent for seeding down the line. 

Kansas vs. Kentucky (Nov. 14)

The AP Poll says this is a top-20 game, with the Wildcats checking in at No. 16. But BetMGM’s college basketball national championship odds say this could be a potential Final Four game, as both Kansas (+1000) and Kentucky (+1600) are among the top five teams in the college basketball futures market. 

Maryland at Villanova (Nov. 17)

What does Kyle Neptune have in Year 2 as Jay Wright’s successor at Villanova? A top-40 Maryland team should provide an excellent early benchmark for the Wildcats. 

San Diego State vs. Saint Mary’s (Nov. 17)

The 2023 national runner-up will play the annual West Coast Conference runner-up in another fun Las Vegas tournament. 

UConn vs. Indiana (Nov. 19)

Here’s one of the biggest questions of the year: What does national champ UConn look like after bleeding so much NBA talent? Indiana might give college basketball fans their first big clue. 

Purdue vs. Gonzaga (Nov. 20)

Gonzaga has scheduled aggressively in the nonconference for several years now. We were all denied the early showdown with Baylor in the fall of 2020 – could this game have some similar profile?

UCLA vs. Marquette (Nov. 20)

Shaka Smart’s team draws another major power – this one at the Maui Invitational. (The game will be held in Honolulu in the wake of the fire devastation on Maui.)

West Virginia vs. SMU (Nov. 20)

What does life after Bob Huggins look like for Mountaineer fans? This should be a fun one to look for early on.

Alabama vs. Ohio State (Nov. 24)

No, it won’t be as good as the college football version of Alabama vs. Ohio State. But this game in late November should be great day-after-Thanksgiving fodder. Nate Oats’ Crimson Tide will be reloading without Brandon Miller, while Chris Holtmann’s Ohio State team will want to prove that last year’s 16-19 season was a one-year blip.

College Basketball Betting at BetMGM

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Whether you like building moneyline parlays, betting on live odds, hedging against national championship bets, or anything else, there are betting opportunties for everyone at the online sportsbook.

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About the Author

Chase Kiddy

Read More @chaseakiddy

Chase Kiddy is a writer for BetMGM and co-host of The Lion's Edge, an NFL and college football podcast available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and everywhere else. He has also written for a number of print and online outlets, including the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Washington Post, Daily News-Record, and HERO Sports. His first novel, Cave Paintings, is in development.

Chase Kiddy is a writer for BetMGM and co-host of The Lion's Edge, an NFL and college football podcast available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and everywhere else. He has also written for a number of print and online outlets, including the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Washington Post, Daily News-Record, and HERO Sports. His first novel, Cave Paintings, is in development.