My friends over at the Big Ten and Big 12 blogs came up with a great series to help us prepare for the start of the season.
The ultimate road trip.
You guys know my editors assign me to games nearly every week. I am removing them from the equation for this series. Instead, I present to you my dream picks -- where I would like to go every week of the season. I have no idea where I will end up going, and things obviously change once the season begins. But for now, I am picking the most appealing games of the week.
Let's get started with Week 1. Here is the schedule:
Thurs., Aug. 30
UMass at UConn
Fri., Aug. 31
Villanova at Temple
Sat., Sept. 1
Youngstown State at Pittsburgh
Rutgers at Tulane
Chattanooga at USF
Northwestern at Syracuse
Sun., Sept. 2
Kentucky at Louisville
My pick: Kentucky at Louisville.
Why: First of all, I love rivalry games. This may not be a league game, but it absolutely is one of the best rivalry games remaining for all Big East teams. Last year, Louisville beat Kentucky for the first time in four years and was hands down the best team in the state of Kentucky for the first time in a long time. The Cardinals now seek to run away with that title, as they are no doubt expected to be a Big East title contender. Beginning the season against your rival in a primetime nationally televised game is a huge opening test, especially for a team that must live up to such high expectations. What is critical for Louisville is being able to win a marquee game right off the bat, with a team that struggled under the weight of expectations last season.
Just as critical is winning at home. Last year, Louisville was 3-3 at home, with losses to FIU and Marshall. Coach Charlie Strong has emphasized that his team must be better at home this year if it wants to contend for a championship. Keep in mind, the nonconference schedule is not a back-breaker. Getting off to a 1-0 start against Kentucky no doubt will create momentum, and more importantly, allow Louisville to keep in-state bragging rights for another year.