What you need to know about the 2021-22 college basketball season originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
The 2021-22 men’s college basketball season is finally here, and the new season won’t be short on major storylines.
Mike Krzyzewski, the winningest coach in Division I men’s college basketball history, is entering his final year on Duke’s sideline before handing over the reins to Jon Scheyer and retiring. In his 47th and final season as a college head coach, Coach K will be looking to add to his 1,170 victories, 27 combined ACC titles, 35 NCAA Tournament berths, 12 Final Four trips (which are tied with John Wooden for the most ever) and five national titles.
Meanwhile, the Blue Devils’ major rival has a new head coach for the first time in nearly two decades as Hubert Davis takes over for the retired Roy Williams at UNC.
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Elsewhere across the nation, Gonzaga has unfinished business after falling one game short of a perfect season in 2020-21. While the Bulldogs lost NBA lottery picks Jalen Suggs and Corey Kispert, they brought in another potential top draft pick in freshman big man Chet Holmgren. Holmgren joins Duke forward Paolo Banchero as the top early contenders to be the first overall pick in the 2022 draft.
And the team that crushed Gonzaga in the 2021 national championship game, Baylor, will be trying to become the first repeat champion since Florida in 2006 and 2007.
From the season start date to top players to watch and much more, here’s everything you need to know before the 2021-22 college basketball season tips off.
When does the 2021-22 college basketball season start?
The 2021-22 college basketball season tips off on Tuesday, Nov. 9.
What teams play on opening night of the 2021-22 college basketball season?
There is a long list of games scheduled for opening night, with Illinois, Purdue, Texas, Houston, UConn, Alabama, Maryland and Syracuse among the top teams who will be in action.
But the must-see matchups come via the Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden. First, No. 3 Kansas will square off against Michigan State at 7 p.m. ET, followed by what could be the final Mike Krzyzewski-John Calipari showdown as No. 9 Duke meets No. 10 Kentucky at 9:30 p.m. ET.
You can check out the full slate of opening night matchups here.
What college basketball tournaments are scheduled at the beginning of the 2021-22 season?
In addition to events like the Champions Classic where a handful of teams come to a neutral site to play one game each, there are also tournament-style events early in the season. Here are the top tournaments, along with their respective opening-round matchups:
Charleston Classic (Charleston, S.C.): Nov. 18-19, 21 -- St. Bonaventure vs. Boise State, Clemson vs. Temple, Marquette vs. Ole Miss, Elon vs. West Virginia
Myrtle Beach Invitational (Myrtle Beach, S.C.): Nov. 18-19, 21 -- Davidson vs. New Mexico State, Penn vs. Utah State, Oklahoma vs. East Carolina, Indiana State vs. Old Dominion
Roman Main Event (Las Vegas): Nov. 19, 21 -- Arizona vs. Wichita State, Michigan vs. UNLV
Hall of Fame Tip-Off (Uncasville, Conn.): Nov. 20-21 -- Villanova vs. Tennessee, North Carolina vs. Purdue
Hall of Fame Classic (Kansas City, Mo.): Nov. 22-23 -- Cincinnati vs. Illinois, Arkansas vs. Kansas State
Legends Classic (Newark, N.J.): Nov. 22-23 -- Virginia vs. Georgia, Providence vs. Northwestern
Fort Myers Tip-Off (Fort Myers, Fla.): Nov. 22, 24 -- Ohio State vs. Seton Hall (Beach Division), California vs. Florida (Beach Division), Southern Utah vs. Yale (Palms Division), Milwaukee vs. Bowling Green (Palms Division)
NIT Season Tip-Off (Brooklyn, N.Y.): Nov. 24-26 -- Xavier vs. Iowa State, Memphis vs. Virginia Tech
Battle 4 Atlantis (Paradise Island, Bahamas): Nov. 24-26 -- Michigan State vs. Loyola Chicago, Auburn vs. UConn, Syracuse vs. VCU, Baylor vs. Arizona State
Wooden Legacy (Anaheim, Calif.): Nov. 25-26 -- Georgetown vs. San Diego State, USC vs. St. Joe’s
Maui Invitational (Las Vegas): Nov. 25-28 -- Texas A&M vs. Wisconsin, Butler vs. Houston, Oregon vs. Chaminade, St. Mary’s vs. Notre Dame
ESPN Events Invitational (Lake Buena Vista, Fla.): Nov. 25-26, 28 -- Dayton vs. Miami, North Texas vs. Kansas, Alabama vs. Iona, Belmont vs. Drake
Bahamas Championship (Nassau, Bahamas): Nov. 25, 27 -- Maryland vs. Richmond, Louisville vs. Mississippi State
Diamond Head Classic (Honolulu, Hawaii): Dec. 22-23, 25 -- Liberty vs. Northern Iowa, Wyoming vs. Stanford, BYU vs. South Florida, Vanderbilt vs. Hawaii
Who are the top freshmen in the 2021-22 college basketball season?
Holmgren and Banchero are the headliners of this freshman class, but there are several other highly-touted first-year players worth watching. Here are some of them (listed in alphabetical order by last name):
- Patrick Baldwin Jr., F, Milwaukee
- Emoni Bates, F, Memphis
- Kendall Brown, F, Baylor
- Kennedy Chandler, G, Tennessee
- Max Christie, G, Michigan State
- JD Davison, G, Alabama
- Moussa Diabate, F, Michigan
- Jalen Duren, C, Memphis
- AJ Griffin, F, Duke
- Caleb Houstan, F, Michigan
- Hunter Sallis, G, Gonzaga
- Jabari Smith, F, Auburn
- TyTy Washington, G, Kentucky
- Peyton Watson, F, UCLA
Who are the top returning players in the 2021-22 college basketball season?
There are also plenty of familiar faces who will be back on the floor in 2021-22. These are some of the top returning players (listed in alphabetical order by last name):
- Buddy Boeheim, G, Syracuse
- Marcus Carr, G, Texas
- Julian Champagnie, G/F, St. John’s
- Kofi Cockburn, C, Illinois
- Hunter Dickinson, C, Michigan
- Collin Gillespie, G, Villanova
- Jaden Ivey, G, Purdue
- Trayce Jackson-Davis, F, Indiana
- Jaime Jaquez Jr., G/F, UCLA
- Johnny Juzang, G, UCLA
- E.J. Liddell, F, Ohio State
- Remy Martin, G, Kansas
- Bennedict Mathurin, G, Arizona
- Scotty Pippen Jr., G, Vanderbilt
- Drew Timme, C, Gonzaga
What are the 2021-22 college basketball preseason rankings?
Led by Holmgren and junior big man Drew Timme, Gonzaga sits atop the preseason AP poll for the second straight year. Mark Few’s Zags have won at least 30 games for five straight seasons.
The team Gonzaga beat in the 2020 Final Four, UCLA, comes in at No. 2 -- the Bruins’ highest ranking since the 2007-08 season. Johnny Juzang, Jaime Jaquez Jr. and Tyger Campbell are all back after leading the 11th-seeded Bruins on a Cinderella run.
Rounding out the top five are Kansas, Villanova and Texas. After a disappointing second-round exit in the 2021 NCAA Tournament, Kansas added super-senior guard Remy Martin through the transfer portal. Martin led the Pac 12 in scoring last season at 19.1 points per game with Arizona State. Texas also landed a big transfer with senior guard Marcus Carr, who posted 19.4 points per game in 2020-21, coming over from Minnesota. Meanwhile, Villanova is getting super-senior guard Collin Gillespie back from a season-ending torn MCL.
The defending national champion Baylor Bears come in at No. 8, behind Michigan and Purdue and ahead of Duke and Kentucky. Baylor has just one returning starter from last year, though the Bears are welcoming five-star recruit Kendall Brown.
Here’s a look at the preseason top 25:
- Ohio State
- North Carolina
- Florida State
- St. Bonaventure