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Matt Vautour: Potential tournament matchups sizzle in November

While there have been some great matchups already, for most college basketball fans the season truly hits its stride this week as early season tournaments begin tipping off all over the country and continue straight through until Christmas.

The best of them are happening over the next two weeks. Barring upsets, and there are always upsets, there could be some terrific matchups whetting fans’ whistles until march.

Here are the best potential showdowns before Thanksgiving. These games won’t all happen, but they’re certainly ones worth hoping for:

Michigan vs. VCU, Puerto Rico Tip-Off (Thursday, Friday, Sunday) — This would be a rematch of an NCAA tournament second round game in March. It’ll be interesting to see how Michigan handles VCU’s Havoc pressure without Trey Burke.

Louisville vs. North Carolina, Hall of Fame Tip-Off at Mohegan Sun (Saturday, Sunday) — Carolina looks wobbly right now, but this is a great blue-blood matchup.

Wichita State vs. BYU, CBE Hall of Fame Classic (Nov. 25-26) — The Shockers are trying to keep last season’s success going, while the Cougars look like a challenger to Gonzaga’s West Coast Conference supremacy.

Syracuse vs. Baylor, Maui Invitational (Nov. 25-27) — The Bears have been sharp early with wins over Colorado and South Carolina. Are they good enough to hang with an Orange team with legitimate national title aspirations?

Duke vs. Arizona, Preseason NIT (Nov. 27-29) — Because Arizona wasn’t apart of last week’s Champions Classic, Wildcat freshman Aaron Gordon didn’t get the same accolades that Duke’s Jabari Parker, Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins and Kentucky’s Julius Randle received. But if Arizona pairs off with Duke at Madison Square Garden, Gordon, who some scouts have called a poor-man’s Blake Griffin, could raise his profile fast.

MY TOP 10 — 1. Michigan State, 2. Kansas, 3. Arizona, 4. Kentucky, 5. Duke, 6. Louisville, 7. Oklahoma State, 8. Syracuse, 9. Ohio State, 10. Memphis. For the rest of my Top 25, visit the College Hoop Week Guide on GazetteNET.com’s UMass Sports Blog.

GOOD LUCK CHARM — If only Oregon State could play every game in front of President Obama. Craig Robinson, who moonlights as the Beavers head coach in addition to being the First Brother-in-Law, is in his sixth year at Oregon State. Without an NCAA or even NIT appearance on his resume, Robinson could be unemployed after the season if the Beavers don’t have a strong season.

Playing every game with the president in attendance could help. While he’s 75-89 in games that don’t include the secret service and metal detectors, Robinson and Oregon State are 4-0 with Obama in the house, including Sunday’s win over Maryland.

ATLANTIC 10 GAME OF THE WEEK: Dayton at Georgia Tech, Wednesday, 8 p.m. — The Flyers matchup against former Dayton coach Brian Gregory, who has struggled in his attempts to resurrect the Yellow Jackets.

CANTY OUT — Fordham big man Ryan Canty has left the team to deal with “personal issues” according to a CBS Sports report. Canty, a 6-foot-9 center from Danvers, had 13 rebounds last year against UMass.

STRONG START FOR A-10 — The Atlantic 10 is 31-6 through Sunday, the fifth best mark of any conference. All 13 teams had records of .500 or better.

ON THE ROAD TO ... A free fall for North Carolina?

Information from personal interviews, newspaper articles and sports information releases was used in this report.

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage

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