The 2016-17 boys basketball season is still more than two months away, but with the release of the CIAC schedules this past weekend, we can start to think about some of the matchups over the first few weeks that could be labeled as must-see. (Note: game dates and times could change before the season begins):
Head to Hartford, Trinity College to be specific, for a great day of hoops to open the season:
Prince Tech vs. Classical Magnet, 10 a.m.
Ledyard vs. Northwest Catholic, noon
East Catholic vs. Maloney, 2 p.m.
Newington vs. Bloomfield, 4 p.m.
Notre Dame-West Haven vs. Greenwich, 6 p.m.
If five games is too much, in the SWC Tip-Off Tournament hosted by Bunnell, New London has replaced Kaynor Tech in this annual event and will open against Notre Dame-Fairfield, now coached by Chris Watts, at 4 p.m., followed by Career at Bunnell. The consolation and championship finals are Dec. 19.
Hillhouse at Middletown, 6:45 p.m.: The defending Class LL state champs will play anyone, anywhere, anytime. Kudos to the Blue Dragons, a Class L finalist with almost everyone returning, willing to take on this juggernaut.
Newington vs. Notre Dame-West Haven at Maloney, 4:45 p.m.: Newington went undefeated during last year’s regular season and returns almost every integral part as well. Guard Tremont Waters transferred to Notre Dame from South Kent to make an already good nucleus that much better. Part of the CPTV Sports Classic.
Weaver at Northwest Catholic, 6:45 p.m.: Weaver lost Ke’Andre Fair after four straight trips to the state championship final, but the Beavers will still be a CCC contender. NWC surprised some folks last year and should be in the mix as well.
Fairfield Prep at Notre Dame-West Haven: They may not be SCC Quinnipiac Division rivals anymore (the SCC realigned in the off-season), but Tonelli Court will be sold out and rocking when Pat Harding and the reigning SCC champions open the season on the road against the Green Knights.
Fairfield Holiday Tournament: Warde vs. Notre Dame at 6, followed by Ludlowe vs. host Fairfield Prep. The championship and consolation will be held on Dec. 27.
St. Joseph at Bassick, 2 p.m.: Former FCIAC rivals meet for a matinee game. Paul Dudzinsaki takes over at his alma mater after 19 season at Stratford.
Saulsbury Invitational: The Elm City has had its share of very good Christmas tournaments in the past, and this one is no exception: Amistad vs. Hyde, Windsor vs. Weaver and Cross hosting a team out of New York. Times, and the NY team TBA
Artie Kohs Tournament: Ledyard and Glastonbury face each other once again in the opener at 5:30, while Xavier hosts Wethersfield at approximately 7:15.
Hamden at East Catholic, 7 p.m.: Matchup of two future Division I players: Hamden’s C.J. Seaforth, heading to Iona, and East Catholic’s Mike McGuirl, who committed to Kansas State.
Wilbur Cross at Danbury, 2 p.m.: Have to hand it to the Governors. Danbury eliminates them in last year’s Class LL quarterfinals and Cross schedules a rematch during the day on the road. Should be a barn burner.
Bassick at Windsor, 5:30 p.m.: Met twice last season with Windsor winning both, including the Class L tournament. The regular-season game was one of the better ones of the entire year, 88-87?? Warriors.
A nice tripleheader in CCC territory: Newington at Middletown, 3 p.m., New London at Hartford Public, 5 p.m., Crosby at East Hartford, 7 p.m.
Also a couple of nice 7 p.m. games in Fairfield County: Hamden at Fairfield Prep and Wilbur Cross at Stamford (a day after traveling to Danbury.
Wilbur Cross at Fairfield Prep, 7 p.m.: Back to being division rivals in the SCC ???
Xavier at Notre Dame-West Haven, 7 p.m.: Now an SCC crossover game, still intense
Sacred Heart at Holy Cross, 7 p.m.: Hearts lost D-1 studs Mustapha Heron (Auburn) and Tyrn Flowers (UMass), along with Charles Fisher, but still has a ton of talent coming back.
Hillhouse vs. Wilbur Cross, 7 p.m.: Need I say more?
Notre Dame-West Haven at Hamden, 7 p.m.: Waters against Seaforth and two very good SCC teams to boot.
New London at Ledyard, 7 p.m.: The top rivalry in the ECC.
Crosby at Wilby, 7 p.m.: These teams have had some great battles over the years.
Harding at East Catholic, 7 p.m.: Harding is the reigning CSC champion.