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Non-Conference Basketball

(Bob Donnan/USA Today Sports)

Top Non-Conference Basketball Games for the 2022-23 Season

(Bob Donnan/USA Today Sports)

Top Non-Conference CBB for the 2022-23 Season

The college basketball season is just around the corner. With a week until the season begins, we can start to look forward to some of the best games in the non-conference slate.

Good games can be found everywhere early in the season. The highly profiled matches can be discovered in a magnitude of ways, whether that’s an invitational or tournament before the conference starts, a rivalry game, or just a regular schedule game between two great programs.

Despite many top programs playing in multiple highly acclaimed games, this article only includes a team once. Let’s take a look at some of the best non-conference games of the 2022-23 college basketball season.

No. 10 Arkansas vs. No. 5 Baylor, Jan. 28

This is one of the biggest non-conference matchups that isn’t played before conference action begins. The SEC/Big 12 Challenge gave us the treat to see two title contending teams square off during the conference season.

With the amount of talent they accumulated during the offseason, Arkansas is a strong contender for the SEC title this season. Nick Smith, the No. 3 overall recruit, headlines a top-two recruiting class which boasts five top-100 players. Eric Musselman also brought in some huge contributors via the transfer portal. Ricky Council IV from Wichita State and former Missouri Tiger, Trevon Brazile, will be significant minutes.

As for Baylor, they are the favorite alongside Kansas to win the Big 12. Scott Drew’s team brings back leading scorer Adam Flagler and gets back multiple players from injury in LJ Cryer and Langston Love. Baylor also landed shooting guard Keyonte George, the nation’s seventh-best recruit. 

This matchup should be one of the better non-conference basketball games this year.

No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 13 Indiana, Nov. 30

Two historic college basketball programs are set to square off in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge right after Thanksgiving. There is a lot of talent returning for both of these two teams.

Last season, Hubert Davis led North Carolina to the championship game losing to Kansas in his first year as the head coach of the Tar Heels. As mentioned, North Carolina returned most of its talent from the championship roster with Caleb Love, Armando Bacot and RJ Davis returning. The Tar Heels also brought in forward Pete Nance from Northwestern, who averaged 14 points per game last season.

For Indiana, Mike Woodson also returns most of his significant players from last season. The return of Race Thompson and Xavier Johnson will complement Trayce Jackson-Davis‘ All-American ability.

Both teams are expected to be atop their perspective conferences towards the end of the year.

No. 23 Illinois vs. No. 8 UCLA, Nov. 18

Illinois and UCLA will face off in the Roman Main Event tournament in Las Vegas. The Illini have been one of the top Big Ten programs in recent years, however, they’ll have to try and find success with a new look roster this upcoming season. Illinois lost All-American Kofi Cockburn to the NBA, as well as key guards in Trent Frazier and Andre Curbelo. Brad Underwood hit the transfer market this offseason and gained two key players in Baylor transfer, Matthew Mayer, and Texas Tech transfer Terrence Shannon Jr.

As for UCLA, they brought back two experienced players from the 2021 team who lost to Gonzaga in the championship game in Tyger Campbell and Jaime Jaquez Jr. Mick Cronin also brought in two highly ranked recruits in five-stars Amari Bailey and Adem Bona.

No. 7 Duke vs. Ohio State, Nov. 30 

Another game apart of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge will pit Duke against Ohio State for the second consecutive season. Both of these teams will face challenges this season in terms of having a revamped roster.

For Duke, legendary coach, Mike Krzyzewski, retired after their Final Four run. First-year coach Jon Scheyer will have the task of opening up the post-Coach K era with a totally revamed roster. In terms of returning players, Jeremy Roach is one of two Blue Devils remaining from last year’s team. Despite this, Duke will be bringing in a stellar freshman class, highlighted by five-stars Dariq Whitehead and Dereck Lively II.

Ohio State lost E.J. Liddell to the NBA but also had a nice offseason. The Buckeyes boasts the nation’s eighth-best recruiting class and brought in key transfers. Among those transfers, Sean McNeil from West Virginia and Isaac Likekele from Oklahoma State, will be a critical part of Ohio State’s success.

No. 5 Kansas vs. Missouri, Dec. 10

The Boarder War finally returned last year after a decade-long absence after Mizzou left for the SEC. Last year, Kansas blew out Missouri and, of course, later went on the win the NCAA Championship.

The Jayhawks will look different than last year with Christian Braun and Ochai Agbaji in the NBA. Bill Self will turn to Dajuan Harris Jr., Texas Tech transfer Kevin McCullar, and the fourth-best recruiting class this season to once again win the Big 12.

For Missouri, the team fired Cuonzo Martin and brought in Dennis Gates. The Tigers only have two players coming back from last season, but Gates hit the transfer portal hard during his first offseason. Kobe Brown, one of the returners, and Missouri State transfer Isiaih Mosley will be the key to any success Mizzou has this year SEC — one that could be a team on the bubble come March. 

With this being one of the most memorable rivalries in college basketball, everyone should hope Missouri can be decent this year to provide a great non-conference battle.

No. 4 Kentucky vs. No. 22 Michigan, Dec. 4

Kentucky and Michigan are set to travel to London for this non-conference matchup.

John Calipari and the Wildcats are one of the favorites to win the SEC this year once again. One of the main reasons is the reigning National Player of the Year, Oscar Tshiebwe, is back for the Wildcats. Tshiebwe averaged 17 points per game to go along with 15 rebounds per game last season which led the country. Kentucky also brings in the sixth-ranked recruiting class and one of the top transfers in the portal, Illinois State guard Antonio Reeves.

For Juwan Howard and Michigan, they also return their big man in Hunter Dickinson. Howard recruited the 10th-best class with Tarris Reed and Jett Howard. Michigan will look to improve this year as after a Sweet 16 elimination last year.

No. 12 Texas vs. No. 11 Tennessee, Jan. 28

Rick Barnes gets another matchup with his former team once again this season. Between both Texas and Tennessee, both of these rosters are fulfilled with excellent guards.

For Texas, Marcus Carr is back with the program after an up-and-down first season in Austin. The Longhorns also added transfer Iowa State transfer Tyrese Hunter to go alongside the third-best recruiting class with five-stars Dillon Mitchell and Arterio Morris.

Tennessee brings back a handful of talent from last year’s roster. Santiago Vescovi, Zakai Zeigler and Josiah-Jordan James are the main cogs from last year’s team. Barnes also gained the commitment from a five-star forward Julian Phillips.

This has a chance to be a great non-conference basketball game under the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.

No. 20 Alabama vs. No. 3 Houston, Dec. 10

Nate Oats has turned Alabama basketball around as the Crimson Tide made it to the NCAA Tournament for the fifth time in seven years. Oats and Alabama should be in the conversation to go dancing again this year. The Crimson Tide’s backcourt should be a fun one this upcoming season with Jahvon Quinerly — when he returns from injury — and Ohio transfer Mark Sears. To go along with the veteran players, ‘Bama brings in the fifth-ranked recruiting class including two five-stars in Brandon Miller and Jaden Bradley.

For Houston, they should be one of the favorites to cut down the nets in, fittingly enough, Houston at the end of the year. Kelvin Sampson has an experienced backcourt with Marcus Sasser, who averaged 17 points per game last season, and Jamal Shead. With the addition of five-star Jarace Walker, the Cougars should be the clear favorite for the American Athletic Conference this season.

No. 2 Gonzaga vs. Michigan State, Nov. 11

One of the most unique places to play a basketball game will make a return for the 2022-23 season as Gonzaga and Michigan State will face off on an aircraft carrier.

Gonzaga has been one of the best teams in the country over the past few years. Despite Chet Holmgren‘s departure to the NBA, the Bulldogs are once again loaded up with talent. Mark Few returns big man Drew Timme, who was voted on the preseason All-American team. The team also returns wing Julian Strawther and welcomes LSU transfer center Efton Reid and guard Malachi Smith from Chattanooga.

Meanwhile, Tom Izzo is at the helm of another year of Michigan State hoops. The Spartans will hope that sophomore guard Jaden Akins can step up for them this upcoming season. Other than Akins, Izzo must also hope that Malik Hall, Joey Hauser and Tyson Walker can improve from last year if they wish to be successful in 2022.

Saint Louis vs. No. 15 Auburn, Nov. 27

Bruce Pearl has found tons of success during his time at Auburn. The Tigers went into March Madness as a No. 2 seed but were eliminated in the Round of 32. However, Auburn looks to be a top team this year as well. The Tigers return two key guards from last season’s team in K.D. Johnson and Wendell Green Jr. Pearl also brought in Johni Broome from Morehead State, who averaged 17 points per game and 10 rebounds.

Saint Louis is one of the most underrated teams in all of college basketball. With top 25 potential, the Billikens should be dancing in March this year. Travis Ford returns almost all of his key players last season in Yuri Collins, Gibson Jimerson and Francis Okoro. Saint Louis also returns Javonte Perkins who missed all of last year with a torn ACL after averaging 17 points per game in the 2020-21 season. In addition, Ford added Missouri forward Javon Pickett, who is expected to make a significant contribution to the team this season. Saint Louis will need to secure some quality non-conference wins to virtually guarantee an at-large bid in March.

With the college basketball season almost here, these are some of the best non-conference games to look forward to. Let the season begin as the road to March starts now.



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