Mark your calendars
Here are a dozen of the best college basketball games scheduled for local venues this season: Nov. 9 -- Stanford vs. USF at Oracle Arena, 8 p.m. The Cardinal and Dons open their seasons on the big stage. Will the event draw a crowd? Dec. 4 -- St. John's at USF, 7 p.m. Bay Area native and one-time UCLA coach Steve Lavin brings the Red Storm to the hilltop, where his father played on the Dons' 1949 NIT championship team. Lavin is back on the sidelines after missing most of last season due to prostate cancer. Dec. 9 -- UNLV at Cal, 3 p.m. The Runnin' Rebels will be the most talented nonconference opponent to visit the Bay Area this season. Ranked No. 18 in the preseason Associated Press Top-25, they are led by two NBA-bound 6-foot-8 forwards, junior Mike Moser and freshman Anthony Bennett, who said no to an offer from Kentucky. Dec. 11 -- Santa Clara at San Jose State, 7 p.m. The South Bay rivals meet in their yearly clash, dominated recently by the Broncos. SCU has won eight of the past nine matchups. Dec. 15 -- Creighton at Cal, 8 p.m. If you don't know Doug McDermott, you will soon. The 6-foot-8 forward averaged 22.9 points last season while leading the Bluejays to a 29-6 record. Had 44 points in one game. He enters this season as part of the national Player of the Year discussion. Jan. 19 -- Cal at Stanford, 1:30 p.m. The Bears haven't lost at home to Stanford since ex-Cardinal coach Mike Montgomery arrived in Berkeley four years ago. But Stanford has won three of four at Maples during that span. Feb. 7 -- Saint Mary's at Santa Clara, 8 p.m. The Gaels have won seven straight in this West Coast Conference rivalry, but the Broncos expect to rebound emphatically from last season's debacle. Feb. 14 -- UCLA at Cal, 6 p.m. The Bruins, rated No. 13 in the preseason AP Top-25, could be a Final Four contender if freshman Shabazz Muhammad gets eligibility clearance from the NCAA. UCLA is still waiting. Feb. 14 -- Gonzaga at Saint Mary's, 8 p.m. The Gaels beat the Zags two of three times last season to sweep the WCC regular-season and tournament titles. Included in that was a 21-point home rout. Gonzaga will be tougher this time. Feb. 16 -- UCLA at Stanford, 1 p.m. Stanford has beaten the Bruins just three times in the past 15 meetings, but all three of those were at Maples Pavilion. So Cardinal fans will be ordering more home cooking. Feb. 21 -- BYU at Saint Mary's, 8 p.m. The Gaels welcomed the Cougars into the WCC last season, beating them twice by double figures. BYU is expected to be stronger this season, but winning in Moraga is tough for any visitor. March 6 -- Stanford at Cal, 8 p.m. Last season, the Cardinal denied Cal a share of the Pac-12 title by winning on the final day of the regular season. Both teams hope the stakes are high again this season in the final game before the Pac-12 tournament.