Is it basketball season yet?
For local college hoops fans, the answer to that question will soon be yes.
With opportunities to add resume-building wins to an NCAA tournament profile, non-conference play can be important for teams looking to make it to the big postseason stage.
Before this year's college basketball season ventures into 2014, there will be a handful of games involving local teams that should grab the interest of hoops fans throughout the state of Utah.
Here's a look at the most intriguing matchups for BYU, Utah, Utah State, UVU, Southern Utah and Weber State during the non-conference slate:
Opening night of Utah State's schedule has typically been reserved for an in-state rival or a lesser-known opponent. That's not the case this year.
Instead, the Aggies will welcome the Pac-12's Trojans to the Smith Spectrum to open the regular season. Utah State is coming off an injury-plagued 21-10 season, while USC hasn't been to the postseason for two straight years.
Regardless, the Aggies have the chance to wash away some of last year's frustrations with a solid victory over USC and new coach Andy Enfield on Friday.
The Cougars head to Maples Pavilion in the first of several must-see matchups during BYU's non-conference play.
The game will be on ESPN2 and features a pair of teams that played in the NIT last year. BYU is 4-2 all-time vs. Stanford, and the teams last played in 2004.
While the Cardinal were predicted to finish sixth in the Pac-12 in the preseason media poll, they received votes in the preseason AP poll and return first-team All-Pac-12 forward Dwight Powell.
A win in Pac-12 country could fuel a non-league run for the Cougars.
This is the highest ranked opponent — in the preseason polls — a Utah Division I school will face in non-conference play.
The Cowboys enter the season ranked eighth in the AP poll, while UVU will be the big underdog heading into Stillwater, Okla. The Wolverines are coming off a 14-18 season and will face Oklahoma State point guard Marcus Smart, an Associated Press preseason All-American.
This will be a good barometer game for UVU in its first year where it can compete for an automatic berth into the NCAA tournament, as it joins the Western Athletic Conference this season.
This game will be a part of the College Basketball Experience Hall of Fame Classic. Following this contest, the Cougars face another Big 12 team, Texas, and a victory there could potentially match them up against No. 16 Wichita State, which reached the Final Four last season.
Iowa State reached the third round of the NCAA tournament last season and is picked fourth in the Big 12 preseason media poll. The Cyclones are led by senior forward Melvin Ejim, who was named to the preseason All-Big 12 team.
BYU will be seeking some revenge, as the Cyclones easily topped the Cougars 83-62 in Ames last season.
This has turned into the most intense rivalry in the state recently, as the series is 6-4 in favor of the Aggies over the past 10 games.
This annual rivalry game returns to the home of the Jazz for the first time since the 2008-09 season, when BYU triumphed 68-63.
There should be plenty of intrigue after last season's game came down to the final seconds. In a contest that was moved back after USU's Danny Berger collapsed during practice in the week leading up to the originally scheduled date, the Cougars emerged victorious. Craig Cusick's putback at the buzzer, his lone field goal of the night, gave BYU the 70-68 victory.
The Aggies will be aiming for some payback this year, while BYU will look to reproduce its success at EnergySolutions Arena from five years ago.
Like the Cougars-Aggies game, this one ought to hold over some emotion from last year's matchup.
Boise State entered the Huntsman Center 6-1 last season and was still riding high off winning at ranked Creighton. But the Utes shot 67 percent and simply blew out the visiting Broncos, 76-55, on a night when Utah remembered the late Rick Majerus.
Boise State ended up making the NCAA tournament, and this year the Broncos are receiving votes in the AP poll. Can Utah pull the upset feat for the second straight year, this time at Taco Bell Arena?
This is the highlight of the Utes' non-conference schedule; for the Cougars, it's a chance to extend their win streak against their top rivals. BYU has won the past seven meetings between the two schools, with Utah's last win coming in January 2009.
Still, the Utes nearly knocked off the favored Cougars last season, an indication that there are rarely certainties in this back-and-forth rivalry.
Playing on their home court, the Cougars had to rally from 12 down in the first half to beat the Utes, 61-58. Matt Carlino came to the rescue, scoring 19 points — including five 3-pointers — and dishing out five assists.
With a Utah program that appears to be on the upswing hosting its rival, this year's contest could very well come down to late-game heroics.
These two teams just a two and a half hour drive away from each other will meet up as the Rebels represent what should be the best team to travel to Cedar City this year.
UNLV, though it lost its exhibition opener against Dixie State last week, will be the clear favorite; the Rebels have reached the NCAA tournament four straight seasons and return Khem Birch, a preseason All-MWC selection.
This contest will give the T-Birds an idea of what kind of talent they will face in their next game as Southern Utah plays at another MWC foe, San Diego State, on Dec. 18.
The Cougars' difficult non-league slate ends when BYU faces the Ducks in Eugene.
Two seasons ago, BYU rolled to a 79-65 victory over Oregon in a game played at EnergySolutions Arena. This time around, though, is expected to be more difficult, as the No. 19 Ducks are coming off a year in which they reached the Sweet 16.
While Oregon dealt with some transfers during the offseason, the Ducks have emerging star Damyean Dotson back and are expecting big things from UNLV transfer Mike Moser.
A victory here would send the Cougars into West Coast Conference play with some serious momentum.
The Wildcats are making a rare trip to Pauley Pavilion this year in what will be Weber State's toughest test of the non-conference season.
Like its in-state counterpart, BYU, the Wildcats will face a tough Pac-12 opponent just before celebrating Christmas. Unlike the Cougars, Weber State will face a beatable opponent, Northern New Mexico, following its matchup with a high-profile foe before opening conference play.
In his first year in Los Angeles, head coach Steve Alford inherits a 22nd-ranked Bruins squad that is expected to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament. The return of Kyle Anderson, a 6-foot-9 forward who averaged 9.7 points and 8.6 rebounds per game last year, is a big reason why.
While it's unlikely Weber State can pull off an upset, the experience in a storied atmosphere can hopefully prove beneficial for a Wildcats team that finished last season 30-7.