The 2023-24 college basketball season tips off today with the first of more than 7,000 women’s and men’s games across ESPN platforms.
Yes, that number is correct… SEVEN THOUSAND. No one produces and distributes more games, better games, or more overall coverage of the sport than ESPN.
Last year’s results were a slam dunk. Women’s college basketball – which culminated with a record-setting audience of 9.9 million viewers for the NCAA championship game – delivered the most-watched regular season since 2014-15, while men’s basketball had its most-watched regular season in four years.
The momentum will continue this year with a new production leadership team led by Vice Presidents Meg Aronowitz and David Ceisler (men’s) and Sara Gaiero, who adds women’s college basketball to her existing WNBA responsibilities.
Here’s a Starting Five of big things to look for during the college hoops regular season across ESPN platforms:
1. Marquee events – Beginning with today’s Aflac Oui Play women’s game in Paris, France between No. 10 Notre Dame and No. 6 South Carolina (1 p.m. ET, ESPN), ESPN has a schedule full of blockbuster matchups, including a pair of Women’s Final Four participants – No. 3 Iowa, led by returning Wooden Award winner Caitlin Clark, and No. 8 Virginia Tech – meeting in the Ally Tipoff in Charlotte later this week (Thursday, 8 p.m., ESPN2). Here are more of the big events to come:
- State Farm Champions Classic (Nov. 14) : ESPN Events’ 13th annual Champions Classic will be played in Chicago. The marquee doubleheader again features four of college basketball’s winningest men’s programs – No. 2 Duke vs. No. 4 Michigan State (7 p.m.) followed by No. 16 Kentucky vs. No. 1 Kansas (9:30 p.m.).
- ACC/SEC Basketball Challenge presented by Continental Tire (Nov. 28-30): The inaugural ACC/SEC Men’s and Women’s Basketball Challenge will take place across five ESPN networks over three nights as two of the nation’s best conferences go head-to-head. The overall 28-game schedule features many high-profile matchups with eight men’s and eight women’s programs ranked in the preseason Top 25 across both conferences.
- Jimmy V Classic presented by Corona (Dec. 3 & 5): ESPN Events hosts the Jimmy V Men’s Classic for the 29th year and the 22nd Women’s Classic. The women’s tripleheader (including two games on ABC) is highlighted by No. 2 UConn at No. 13 Texas, while the marquee game for the primetime men’s doubleheader at Madison Square Garden pits defending national champion and No. 6 UConn against No. 19 UNC. These programs have combined for 11 national championships and will be playing for the first time since 2005.
2. Maui Invitational – While the elite men’s field – including four preseason Top 10 teams – for the Maui Invitational (Nov. 20-22) could be highlighted above among the marquee events, the tournament in Hawaii has even greater significance this season following the devastating wildfires on the island of Maui in August. With this year’s tournament being played in Honolulu instead of its traditional location, ESPN has special coverage planned to highlight relief efforts and to celebrate Maui, which has played host to the Invitational for 40 years. An ESPN crew recently completed three days of shooting on the island for a series of special features and “Aloha Maui” vignettes.
3. Familiar faces in new, expanded roles – Andraya Carter, Jay Williams, and Carolyn Peck are among the prominent ESPN voices who will expand their roles on college basketball this season. Carter and Williams will join Rece Davis, Jay Bilas, and Seth Greenberg for Men’s College GameDay Covered by State Farm, which marks its 20th season in 2024.
Carter, who signed a new multi-year ESPN extension, will continue her prominent role on women’s basketball while also expanding her ESPN NBA assignments. Williams, who was part of GameDay from 2014-19, returns to the show and will also call high-profile games each week. Peck, who also signed a new multi-year extension, will expand her role into men’s college basketball in addition to her work on women’s college hoops and the WNBA.
4. Rivalries – ESPN’s college basketball coverage will once again spotlight many of the sport’s top rivalries from coast to coast – especially with ESPN having rights to some 30 different conferences. From the annual Duke-UNC Tobacco Road men’s games to the SEC’s women’s conference clashes between national championship programs South Carolina and LSU – and many more, ESPN will spotlight the very best the sport has to offer.
5. Expansive digital coverage – College basketball is among the most-streamed sports on ESPN+, and 2022-23 was the platform’s most-viewed men’s and women’s hoops seasons ever. In all, 6,400 women’s and men’s college basketball games will be available on ESPN+ this season, including hundreds of games via Big 12 Now on ESPN+, which continues to garner significant interest among fans.