Commentary

Looking ahead to Jimmy V Classic

Updated: December 3, 2012, 2:29 PM ET
By Dick Vitale | ESPN.com

I hope you will be watching on Tuesday night, as the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden will be something special.

I am excited because I will be speaking about my friend Jim Valvano and his legacy, the battle against the dreaded disease of cancer.

Some will say his legacy is cutting down the nets as coach of the miraculous NC State team in 1983. I believe it is The V Foundation, which has raised more than $100 million for cancer research.

[+] EnlargeJimmy Valvano
Focus on Sport/Getty ImagesJim Valvano won a title in 1983 at NC State, but his bigger legacy is the $100 million The V Foundation has raised for cancer research.

I know Jimmy will be smiling down from heaven when the Wolfpack meet Connecticut at the mecca of basketball. People are well aware of Jimmy V's success at NC State. He got an early jump on his career working on the Connecticut staff of legendary coach Dee Rowe, one of the nicest men in the business.

It should be an intriguing matchup. Yes, NC State has struggled at times this season, losing to Oklahoma State and Michigan while getting a scare from UNC Asheville. Connecticut was pushed by New Hampshire in its last game. Kevin Ollie is in his first season at Storrs, and he wants to build momentum after taking over for Hall of Fame coach Jim Calhoun.

A key to the game will be Connecticut's effort to slow down C.J. Leslie and Richard Howell along the Wolfpack front line. The Huskies have been guard-oriented with Shabazz Napier, Ryan Boatright and diaper dandy Omar Calhoun leading the way.

Rebounding has been a challenge for the Huskies, and Howell is so tough on the glass. Leslie could put up big numbers in this contest, too.

The opening game features a talented Georgetown team against a short-handed Texas squad. Rick Barnes has to be frustrated that Myck Kabongo is still on the sideline, awaiting word of his eligibility from the NCAA. Guard Julien Lewis had 18 points in a win over Texas-Arlington in the Longhorns' last outing.

The Hoyas have such great size and length and almost took out Indiana at the Legends Classic. Otto Porter and Markel Starks have to come up big against Texas.

This game has such special meaning in raising awareness and money to battle cancer. I have a new book out, "Getting a W in the Game of Life." The motivational book is important because all of my proceeds go to The V Foundation. Go to dickvitaleonline.com and find out how you can purchase an autographed book.

If you can help, call 1-800-4-JIMMYV. Every dollar goes to cancer research, as we must beat the dreaded disease. Enjoy the games on Tuesday night. I am sure Jimmy will be smiling, seeing how much people care about this cause, this battle.

Dick Vitale

College Basketball analyst
Dick Vitale, college basketball's top analyst and ambassador, joined ESPN during the 1979-80 season. His thorough knowledge of the game is brought forth in an enthusiastic, passionate style. Vitale also contributes columns to ESPN.com.