Associated Press

SAN DIEGO -- It was a college basketball game like none, played under a pinkish-purple twilight sky on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier, with President Barack Obama sitting midcourt and thousands of sailors in the stands. Two fighter jets screamed overhead just as the national anthem finished.

A year after North Carolina beat Michigan State in the inaugural Carrier Classic on the USS Carl Vinson, the college basketball season will begin Friday with three games afloat -- one on an active Navy ship and two on decommissioned aircraft carriers -- and another in a hangar at Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

This year's nautical matchups will be hard-pressed to match the atmosphere at last year's Carrier Classic on San Diego Bay.

They will try, though.

From east to west, the games are:

  • The Armed Forces Classic between Connecticut and No. 14 Michigan State at Ramstein Air Base in Germany. Created by ESPN, it will tip off at approximately midnight local time, or 3 p.m. PST.

  • The Carrier Classic on the USS Yorktown in Charleston, S.C., will feature a women's game between No. 7 Notre Dame and No. 19 Ohio State, followed by a men's game between No. 4 Ohio State and Marquette. The Yorktown is now a museum. The games are being promoted by Morale Entertainment Foundation, which put on last year's game on the Carl Vinson.

  • The Navy-Marine Corps Classic between Georgetown and No. 10 Florida in Jacksonville on the deck of the USS Bataan, an amphibious assault ship that's being moved from its home port of Norfolk, Va., to Naval Station Mayport for the game, along with an escort ship, the USS Mesa Verde.

  • The Battle on the Midway in San Diego will feature No. 9 Syracuse against No. 20 San Diego State on the USS Midway, also a museum.

    North Carolina coach Roy Williams has fond memories of his experience last year.

    "I mean, standing on that ship, and the president of the United States is walking out on the ship, and they're playing the music," Williams said. "You can see the sun's about to set. I'm sitting there and at that moment I said, 'Roy Williams, you're one of the luckiest guys that's ever walked on the earth.' "