3. Purdue vs. Gonzaga - Nov. 20 in Maui
The Maui Invitational is loaded every year but the event has a massive headliner in the first round (yes, this is a first-round game) between Purdue and Gonzaga. The winner of this game will likely be favored to win the whole tournament and it is the unquestioned top game of Thanksgiving week.
A lot of eyes will be on Purdue as the Boilermakers look to bounce back from their disastrous loss as a 1-seed to 16-seed Fairleigh Dickinson in March. Getting a big win over Gonzaga, which is still a strong team that isn't quite as talented as its most recent editions, would be a start toward re-establishing Purdue's credibility as a title threat.
2. UConn at Kansas - Dec. 1
We're back to pumping up UConn again as the reigning national champs will play a true road game at Allen Fieldhouse as part of the Big East/Big 12 battle. There isn't a tougher place to play in college basketball than the Phog so this is very good for the Huskies' new-look lineup to gain experience in a brutally tough road game.
The Jayhawks will also have to deal with a team that has the ability to throw multiple bodies at Dickinson as UCONN will send Donovan Clingan and Alex Karaban down low to tangle with the Kansas big man. If the Huskies can emerge victorious it will send a major message about their potential to repeat as national champs.
1. Michigan State vs. Duke - Nov. 14 in Chicago
The top non-conference game on the board is the other half of the Champions Classic in Chicago as Duke takes on Michigan State. The game pits two of the Top 4 teams in the preseason polls against each other and there is plenty of star power on both sides.
The Blue Devils and Spartans both have a ton of experience on their side and will be integrating exciting new freshmen into their first major college basketball moment in Chicago. Whoever gets this victory will have a major resume boost for their season in what could be a Final Four preview.