Even without rising star Shoni Schimmel in action for the Louisville Cardinals today, the ESPN College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon promises to feature plenty of star power in its two women's games today.
Aside from the presence of four WNBA draft prospects playing in the later game, Texas A&M transfer Kelsey Bone will be making her national television debut for the reigning national champions. The full marathon schedule is posted at SB Nation's Card Chronicle, but we'll take a brief look at those two women's games here.
4 p.m. EDT: Texas A&M Aggies vs. Louisville Cardinals
With three Louisville players out, Bone will probably be the center of attention for most people. But another player to watch for the Aggies this season is guard Tyra White who came up big when her team needed her in their march to the national championship last season. She's as talented an all-around player as many more highly touted guards and with both Danielle Adams and Sydney Colson having graduated to the WNBA, White - as well as Sydney Carter - step into more of a leadership role in terms of tenure. White wasn't on our initial list of top 10 draft prospects, but she is a player worth keeping tabs on for WNBA fans.
In any event, while the Aggies return three starters, Louisville will be making up for absences with a combination of freshmen. And while coach Jeff Walz says he has been pleased with the performance of the freshmen thus far, going up against against the aggressive defense that the Aggies present without their star point guard may be a challenge.
6 p.m. EDT.: Tennessee Lady Vols vs. Miami Hurricanes
TV: ESPN2; Online: ESPN3.com
Miami is one of those rising women's basketball programs that isn't nearly as embedded in the consciousness of mainstream fans as a program like Tennessee and tonight gives them an opportunity to show the basketball world what they're capable of. James has more on Miami in his ACC Preview and David Hooper of SBN's Rocky Top Talk has a thorough preview of the Lady Vols.
Miami features two preseason All-ACC players in guard Shenise Johnson and Riquna Williams that lead an uptempo attack and are also two of our top WNBA draft prospects this season. While Tennessee features a number of talented players - including two top draft prospects of their own in Glory Johnson and Shekinna Stricklen - freshman Ariel Massengale is a key player to watch as legendary coach Pat Summitt has entrusted her with the role of floor leader as the starting point guard, possibly the best they've had since winning their last national championships.
Clearly there are a number of pairings one could imagine to put on a show for the type of national audience this marathon will bring, but this game has the right combination of pro-level individual talents, an impact freshman, and style of play that should make for entertaining basketball.
For live updates and results for the full marathon, visit SB Nation's College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon storystream that has complete up-to-date coverage. Feel free to put your additional links, insights, and witty observations in the comments about this game or other games you happen to be watching.