It's that time of year -- when TV schedules begin to trickle out, when I realize that we're simultaneously so close to college hoops season but also still way too far away, when we all get irrationally excited just to hear about games on paper like they're some mythological whisper just beyond the limits of our primitive understanding. You say these basketball games will be ... on Monday nights? And there will be two of them in a row? Tell us more of your sorcery, wizard!
The offseason is tough, is what I'm saying, but schedule news always makes it a little bit better. That's what we have today: On Wednesday morning, ESPN revealed its 2013-14 Big Monday schedule, which for the first time will include the ACC in the 7 p.m. ET spot long held by the old Big East. Here's the full sked (all times EST):
Big Monday 2014
7 p.m. Virginia at Duke
9 p.m. Kansas at Iowa State
7 p.m. North Carolina at Virginia
9 p.m. Baylor at Kansas
7 p.m. Duke at Pittsburgh
9 p.m. Oklahoma State at Oklahoma
7 p.m. Notre Dame at Syracuse
9 p.m. Iowa State at Oklahoma State
7 p.m. Maryland at Virginia
9 p.m. Kansas at Kansas State
7 p.m. North Carolina at Florida State
9 p.m. Oklahoma State at Baylor
7 p.m. Syracuse at Maryland
9 p.m. Oklahoma at Kansas
7 p.m. Notre Dame at North Carolina
9 p.m. Kansas State at Oklahoma State
Honestly, at the risk of sounding too much like a company man ... that is a pretty phenomenal slate of Monday night regular-season basketball games. You can't always predict how things will end up, of course, but the combination of the tightly wound Big 12 of recent seasons (this time with main attractions Kansas and Oklahoma State, and their respective stars Andrew Wiggins and Marcus Smart) and that new, loaded ACC is even better than I would have hoped. It's not just about the novelty of the new ACC. Sure, Duke at the Oakland Zoo on Big Monday is insanely cool, don't get me wrong -- just like Syracuse at Maryland and Notre Dame in Chapel Hill. But I'm guessing the novelty will wear off rather quickly, and we'll come to know these new conferences as the default, and at that point the basketball will be all that matters. In both the early and late games, there's just a lot of straight-up good basketball here.
So mark your calendars accordingly, convince your rec-league teammates to switch your hoops night to later in the week, go find your old Big East VHS tapes and watch a few games to pay homage ... whatever you need to do to make the void in your life shrink even slightly, you may begin doing so now. Real basketball is just around the corner.
OK, not really, but just keep saying so anyway. Trust me. It helps.