College basketball tips off throughout the Carolinas Friday night. Here are some area matchups to watch:
NORTHERN IOWA at No. 9 NORTH CAROLINA
Smith Center, Chapel Hill, 7 p.m. ESPNU
Northern Iowa, picked to finish second in the Missouri Valley, is strong inside with 6-foot-10 Bennett Koch and 6-8 Klint Carlson. The Tar Heels’ four biggest players are freshmen, so 6-8 Luke Maye (Hough High) could be a key in the game.
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VMI at N.C. STATE
PNC Arena, Raleigh, 7 p.m.
VMI lost all five starters from a 6-24 team. The Keydets love to shoot 3-pointers, and the opening chapter of the Kevin Keatts era at N.C. State could be a wild, up-and-down-the-floor shooting fest.
ELON at No. 1 DUKE
Cameron Indoor Stadium, Durham, 7 p.m.
Yes, both Elon’s Steven Santa Ana (Ardrey Kell High) and Duke’s Grayson Allen will be on the floor – 11 months after the infamous tripping incident. Elon is expected to contend for the Colonial Athletic title this season.
GEORGIA SOUTHERN at WAKE FOREST
Lawrence Joel Coliseum, Winston-Salem, 7:30 p.m.
This isn’t an easy season opener for the host Deacons. Ike Smith led the Sun Belt Conference in scoring and field goals made last season and leads an experienced Eagles’ squad.
WESTERN CAROLINA at CLEMSON
Littlejohn Coliseum, Clemson, S.C., 7 p.m.
Marcquise Reed had 25 points and eight rebounds in the Tigers’ 71-67 exhibition loss last week to Tennessee. WCU’s Deriece Parks (Olympic High) scored in double figures four times last season before suffering a season-ending injury.
SOUTH CAROLINA at WOFFORD
Richardson Indoor Stadium, Spartanburg, 7 p.m.
A young Gamecocks squad, coming off a Final Four run, helps Wofford open its new 3,400-seat arena. Gamecocks coach Frank Martin says he agreed to a season-opening road game as a favor to Wofford coach Mike Young.
METHODIST at CHARLOTTE
Halton Arena, Charlotte, 7:30 p.m.
The visiting Monarchs have four starters returning and are the preseason pick in the Division III USA South Conference. The 49ers will play five of their six November games at home.
CHARLESTON SOUTHERN at DAVIDSON
Belk Arena, Davidson, 7 p.m.
The Buccaneers’ Christian Keeling was the only freshman in Division I to lead his team in scoring and rebounding last season. These teams are playing for the first time in a quarter-century.
GARDNER-WEBB at No. 13 MIAMI
Watsco Center, Coral Gables, Fla., 8 p.m.
The Runnin’ Bulldogs looked good in an 82-70 exhibition victory last week over Wofford, but they face an ACC power led by guard Bruce Brown Jr. Gardner-Webb then travels to No. 7 Florida on Monday.
SOUTHERN ILLINOIS at WINTHROP
Winthrop Coliseum, Rock Hill, 7 p.m.
Winthrop big man Xavier Cooks faces a big challenge, as the Salukis’ Thik Bol led the Missouri Valley Conference in blocked shots last season. This is the teams’ first meeting.
JOHNSON C. SMITH at WEST VIRGINIA STATE
Walker Convocation Center, Institute, W.Va., 7:30 p.m.
The Golden Bulls open the two-day Earl Lloyd Classic against the event’s hosts. West Virginia State’s backcourt of sophomore Ernest Jenkins (16.9 points a game last season) and Jayson Hankins (12.6) fuels the team.
No. 2 QUEENS at GEORGIA COLLEGE & STATE
Centennial Center, Milledgeville, Ga., 7:30 p.m.
Sporting their lofty national ranking, the Royals face the hosts of the two-day Crossover Classic. It could be a tough test for Queens, as the Bobcats have their top five scorers back from a 15-13 team.