Sorry, Wildcat fans: Villanova isn’t expected to repeat, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t in for an exciting ride this winter.
Tuesday is the first day of the 2018-19 college basketball season. St. Joe’s and Penn are expected to finish near the top of their Atlantic Ten and Ivy League respectively, Drexel and La Salle are hoping to see some improvement, Temple will try to cut through a crowded conference field and Villanova, of course, is once again expected to finish in first place in the Big East.
We’ve got previews of each of Philadelphia’s six teams, plus what you need to know from a national perspective and how the women’s teams are expected to fare.
With nearly 150 games on the docket, Tuesday is bound to be a fun way to usher in the new season. The action tips off as early as 12:30 p.m. ET, when you can watch Green Bay take on Division-III Wisconsin Lutheran. But more importantly: three local teams are in action Tuesday night.
Villanova begins its title defense against Morgan State at 7 p.m. from the newly renovated Finneran Pavilion. If you don’t plan to head out to the Main Line, you can watch on FS1.
La Salle travels to North Broad Street to start its season against the Temple Owls at 6:30 p.m.
Nationally, opening night is headlined by the Champions Classic in Indianapolis, featuring two marquee games: No. 10 Michigan State at No. 1 Kansas at 7 p.m. followed by No. 4 Duke at No. 2 Kentucky at 9:30 p.m. Both games will be on ESPN.
A new challenge on the Main Line
Season opener: Tuesday vs. Morgan State, 7 p.m., FS1
Old faces, new look for St. Joe’s
For (nearly) all of the 2017-18 season, Saint Joseph’s was without perhaps its best two players in Charlie Brown and Lamarr “Fresh” Kimble: Brown had a wrist injury that refused to heal; Kimble went down with a foot injury in the season opener.
Now, with both players back, Hawks coach Phil Martelli has high expectations for his team, which was
Season opener: Friday vs. Old Dominion, 7:30 p.m.
There’s a far-less optimistic prediction for La Salle in the Atlantic Ten — the Explorers were picked to finish 12th out of 14 teams.
But that prognosis doesn’t scare Ashley Howard.
The pair will look to bring La Salle back to the NCAA Tournament for just the second time since 1992.
Season opener: Tuesday at Temple, 7:30 p.m.
The Owls want to send head coach Fran Dunphy out with another visit to the NCAA Tournament.
Season opener: Tuesday vs. La Salle, 7:30 p.m.
Penn beat Harvard in the second Ivy League conference tournament last March after the two tied for the regular-season title.
Expect another dance between the two schools this year, as the Crimson and the Quakers were picked one-two in the league for the 2018-19 season.
Penn head coach Steve Donahue is optimistic last year’s success — a conference title and berth in the NCAA Tournament, which ended an 11-year tournament drought — can lead to good things.
“You put all of those things together last year, you hope that now you continue to grow your program based on those standards,” he said.
Season opener: Friday vs. Rice, 8 p.m.
Zach Spiker is entering his third season at Drexel, and he’s not necessarily counting the Dragons’ improvement by wins and losses.
He wants to watch the team improve defensively, and thinks they can do that this season.
Led by local product Troy Harper and Kurk Lee, who was fourth in minutes played in the Colonial Athletic Association last season, Drexel will look to improve on its 13-20 season last year.
Season opener: Friday at Eastern Michigan, 11 a.m.