We are two weeks away from tipping off the 2013-2014 season with Thanksgiving Tournament play jumpstarting the season. The City/Suburban Hoops Report has singled out these games as ones to circle and see for various reasons this winter.
• St. Rita at Curie, Dec. 1
The best early-season game on the docket as two top 10 teams loaded with talent (Cliff Alexander, Vic Law, Charles Matthews) collide in a Catholic League vs. Public League battle.
• St. Charles East at Larkin, Dec. 5
These two expect to battle for the top spot in the Upstate Eight Valley. This early matchup could set the tone in this league race.
• Hinsdale Central at York, Dec. 7
If York, a sleeper in the West Suburban Silver, wants to make a run at favored Hinsdale Central, maybe it can get this early one at home. York's 6-7 Frank Toohey faces Hinsdale Central's 6-7 Matt Rafferty.
• Morgan Park at Simeon, Dec. 19
The defending 3A champs take on the defending 4A champs in what has evolved into one of the most heated rivalries in the state.
• Benet at Marian Catholic, Dec. 20
This was an absolute thriller last season and should be again. A key East Suburban Catholic Conference tilt as the state's best point guard, Marian Catholic's Tyler Ulis, takes on one of the premier big men, Benet's Sean O'Mara.
• Oak Park-River Forest at Fenwick, Dec. 21
Many may not appreciate the intensity in this one. The battle of Oak Park a terrific primer for holiday tournament time for both teams. The big question is whether Fenwick star Scott Lindsey be back for it?
• Larkin at Benet, Jan. 7
How good is Larkin? This terrific non-conference road tilt for the Royals will tell us a lot.
• Stevenson at Zion-Benton, Jan. 10
Plenty of star power and two ranked teams in this one as Jalen Brunson and Company travel to face high-scoring Milik Yarbrough and the Zee-Bees.
• St. Viator at Marian Catholic, Jan. 10
Should be one of the most entertaining conference games in the Chicago area all season with so much perimeter punch on the floor in Tyler Ulis, Ki-Jana Crawford, Ore Arogundade, Mark Falotico and Roosevelt Smart.
• Loyola Academy at St. Rita, Jan. 14
A key Catholic League matchup. The three-guard attack of Loyola will be poised and ready for a road date against a talent-filled St. Rita team led by Vic Law and Charles Matthews.
• Whitney Young at Orr, Jan. 15
Orr has beaten Whitney Young in each of the last two seasons in Red-West play, including last year's buzzer-beating win.
• Benet at St. Viator, Jan. 24
Like last year, every top-of-the-league matchup in the East Suburban Catholic is going to be a good one this winter.
• Deerfield at Highland Park, Jan. 24
Forget Niles North and Glenbrook North in the CSL North. It's time for Deerfield and Highland Park to take center stage.
• Marian Catholic vs. Stevenson, @ Glenbard East Shootout, Jan. 25
A circle-the-date, must-see showdown featuring two of the top teams in the state and the two best point guards around -- Stevenson's Jalen Brunson and Marian Catholic's Tyler Ulis.
• Simeon at Bogan, Jan. 28
This one is always fun and feisty on the South Side. Throw in the tiny Bogan gym in late January and these two will be ready to go at it.
• St. Viator at Loyola Academy, Feb. 1
East Suburban Catholic vs. Chicago Catholic League in a north suburban slugfest between two teams with outstanding guard play.
• Oak Park-River Forest at Hinsdale Central, Feb. 1
While most will have Hinsdale Central pegged as the favorite in the West Suburban Silver, Oak Park-River Forest is a sleeper. This one could go a long way in deciding the Silver champ.
• Geneva at St. Charles East, Feb. 1
Even though Geneva lost prized prospect K.J. Santos, the Vikings are still solid with junior Nate Navigato and a host of returning players. These two neighboring communities along the Fox River meet in a game that could have heavy conference UEC Valley implications.
• Lakes at North Chicago, Feb. 4
Don't forget: Lakes won 24 games a year ago and shared the North Suburban Prairie title with North Chicago with identical 11-1 records last season. Can they pull off another surprise this year?
• Thornwood at Thornton, Feb. 4
It's been awhile since Thornwood-Thornton mattered this much. The second of two matchups between these two Southwest Suburban Red contenders could decide a league title.
• Naperville Central at West Aurora, Feb. 7
The DuPage Valley Conference favorites meet for the second time.
• Stevenson vs. Benet @ Batavia Shootout, Feb. 8
The perimeter stars from Stevenson, led by all-everything Jalen Brunson, will try to find a way to handle a player with true size in 6-9 Sean O'Mara of Benet.
• Conant at Fremd, Feb. 14
They won't be preseason top 25 teams, but they're solid northwest suburban teams who will be squaring off in a game that could decide the MSL West.
• Morton at Proviso East, Feb. 15
This is a Morton team that will give Proviso East, the defending West Suburban Gold champs, everything it can handle.
• Homewood-Flossmoor @ Bolingbrook, Feb. 21
H-F is the defending Southwest Suburban Blue champs. Bolingbrook is favored in 2013-2014. This late-season showdown could decide it.
• Neuqua Valley at Plainfield East, Feb. 22
Hotshot junior prospect Aaron Jordan and Plainfield East take on a local heavyweight in Neuqua in what could be a preview of a postseason showdown a couple of weeks later.
• Stevenson vs. Simeon @ City/Suburban Showdown, Feb. 22
A rematch of last year's Class 4A state championship and two teams with legitimate state title hopes this season.
• St. Joseph at St. Rita, Feb. 28
Another key Catholic League matchup with a host of highly-regarded junior guards on the floor in St. Rita's Charles Matthews and St. Joseph's Glynn Watson and Jordan Ash.
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