Seven Sweet Scoops: Julius Randle Out Three Months, Andrew Wiggins Plans Visit To Florida State…

Posted by CLykins on November 30th, 2012

Seven Sweet Scoops is the newest and hottest column by Chad Lykins, the RTC recruiting analyst. Every Friday he will discuss the seven top stories from the week in the wide world of recruiting, involving offers, which prospect visited where, recent updates regarding school lists, and more chatter from the recruiting scene. You can also check out more of his work at RTC with his weekly column “Who’s Got Next?”, as well as his work dedicated solely to Duke Basketball at Duke Hoop Blog. You can also follow Chad at his Twitter account @CLykinsBlog for up-to-date breaking news from the high school and college hoops scene.

Note: ESPN Recruiting used for all player rankings.

1. Julius Randle To Miss Three Months. Julius Randle, the No. 4 overall ranked prospect in the class of 2013, is expected to miss three months after fracturing a bone on the top of his right foot. From Prestonwood Christian Academy (Texas), Randle suffered the injury during the Thanksgiving Hoopfest on November 24. He underwent surgery on Tuesday and is targeting a return to the court either during the high school playoffs for Prestonwood, or the postseason all-star games for the senior class at the latest. Among the schools pursuing the 6’9” power forward include Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina State, Oklahoma and Texas. Randle has already made visits to Florida, Kentucky and Oklahoma and has finalized visits to Texas (December 15-16), Kansas (December 28-30) and NC State (January 25-27), with a spring decision most likely. One day prior to his injury, Randle had notched a double-double in his first and possibly only game for Prestonwood this season with 27 points and 13 rebounds in their season-opener.

Julius Randle is considering Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina State, Oklahoma and Texas

 2. Andrew Wiggins Scheduling Florida State Visit. The No. 1 overall ranked prospect in the class of 2013 and widely regarded as the best high school basketball player in the nation, Andrew Wiggins is planning his first official visit to Florida State. Although the date has yet to be confirmed, it is likely that the visit will come in the first weekend of December. Since his reclassification into the senior class, Wiggins has received new interest from the likes of Kansas, North Carolina and Ohio State. However, throughout his entire recruitment two schools have been viewed as the leaders for the 6’8” small forward, Florida State and Kentucky. When speaking of the Seminoles, the Wiggins name is synonymous with their program as both of Andrew’s parents — former NBA player Mitchell Wiggins and former Canadian Olympic track star Marita Payne-Wiggins — attended Florida State. A member of Huntington Prep (West Virginia), Wiggins most recently participated alongside teammate and Florida State commit Xavier Rathan-Mayes at the Charlotte Hoops Challenge in front of Seminoles’ head coach Leonard Hamilton and associate head coach Stan Jones. With a hectic playing schedule ahead of him, Wiggins is expected to plan more visits when he can in the future with a spring decision targeted.

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Pac-12 M5: 11.30.12 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on November 30th, 2012

  1. We mentioned yesterday how a pair of recent departures from UCLA will hurt the Bruins this season, but we didn’t even begin to look at how it can hurt recruiting in the years to come. This LA Times article discusses exactly that, along with getting a feel for the overall temperature of the program. Ben Howland has lost 11 players in the past four years, a staggering number even in the state of mass transfer that college hoops is in today. The departures haven’t appeared to hurt Howland in recruiting (obviously, as he brought in one of the top classes in the nation this year), but as the number of shocking losses grow, one has to wonder just how long until the Bruins see a sharp drop-off. Sophomore guard Norman Powell was quoted in the article as saying you shouldn’t let it affect your decision; “The people transferring, they probably have personal decisions. You can’t make your recruitment decision on, ‘Oh, people are leaving the program.’ The Bruins did a good job of putting the distractions behind them to dominate Cal State Northridge on Wednesday night, and they’ll need to do the same thing Saturday when they meet a very good San Diego State team in Anaheim.
  2. After starting his career in Westwood by making the Big Dance in five of his first six seasons, defections, a lack of chemistry, and unthinkable losses have marked Ben Howland‘s past three seasons and the beginning of this one. Pacific Takes says the next few weeks will determine Howland’s future with the school, as the Bruins take on three tough opponents in that span. If they can get through Christmas with a clean slate, the UCLA fan base will be charged up for what this team has in store for conference play. Anything less and those Pac-12 games could very well be Howland’s last.
  3. Arizona has opened the season with four wins and a Top 10 ranking, but the Wildcats are still a good bit away from reaching their peak. But if you’re looking for a “test-worthy” opponent to prove the Cats are legit, you’ll get plenty of opportunities in the coming days. Sean Miller’s club will take on Texas Tech and Clemson on the road before facing a Sweet Sixteen type (and maybe even Elite Eight) team in Florida at the McKale Center. Sandwiched in is also a visit from a 6-0 Southern Miss squad. So if you’re holding out on Zona, you’ll get proof soon enough that this is a legit team.
  4. Arkansas-Pine Bluff threw everything it had, including a mixture of zones, at Arizona State on Wednesday night in hopes of an upset. It didn’t work, but it did teach freshman point guard Jahii Carson and the Sun Devils how not to play against a zone; trying to shoot the Golden Lions out of it instead of attacking a weaker and smaller defense inside. In the end, however, this was still a fine win for Arizona State. These types of games have been ones to trip up Herb Sendek and ASU in the past, so a 13-point win to get to 5-1 on the season is fine in my book.
  5. Finally, some congratulations is due to Drew. This space is usually saved for our Pac-12 football picks each week, but Drew clinched the contest last Friday when Utah’s Reggie Dunn returned a Colorado kickoff 100 yards to beat the Buffaloes, 42-35. The final scoreboard shows Team Murawa up six, and with only tonight’s UCLA-Stanford and tomorrow’s Nicholls State-Oregon State match-ups remaining, not even I can catch up. If you haven’t already, check out our college hoops pick’em, which we began yesterday. We’re already off to a great start thanks to young Kentucky’s flop in South Bend.
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Checking In On… the Patriot League

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 30th, 2012

Mitch Goldich is the RTC correspondent for the Patriot League. You can find more of his work online at The Huffington Post.  Follow him on Twitter at @mitchgoldich for more updates.

Looking Back

  • The Hunt for an Automatic Bid: One of the most intriguing storylines at the outset of the season was whether an improved Patriot League could send two teams to the Big Dance in March. With both Lehigh and Bucknell receiving attention in various national mid-major rankings, it was possible that one or both could play itself into the at-large bid conversation. Lehigh squandered two of its best chances to impress the selection committee, dropping games at Baylor and Pitt. The Pitt loss was particularly damning because a win would have generated more chances against quality competition in the NIT Season Tip-Off semifinals and/or finals. The Mountain Hawks will have to win the Patriot League Tournament to get another shot to play with the big boys this March.  Bucknell, on the other hand, had a more difficult non-conference schedule to begin with and has held up its end of the bargain with wins over Purdue, George Mason and New Mexico State.  The Bison would likely need to win at Missouri on January 5 and submit a dominant conference season, but the door is still open. If the Bison win the Patriot League tournament, the point will be moot, but if they suffer an upset, the league could have two in the Field of 68.
  • Wins From Top to Bottom: While Lehigh and Bucknell captured the preseason headlines, it bears repeating that six other Patriot League teams entered the season with high aspirations of their own. The Patriot League is an improved conference this year, with teams from top to bottom earning non-conference wins. Through Wednesday, the league had a cumulative record of 29-26. Many of those losses came in mismatches against schools from the power conferences, as was to be expected.  But the league has been far from a doormat. The eight Patriot League schools have mopped up some of the other conferences on the East Coast, going a combined 23-5 against teams from the America East, CAA, Ivy League, MAAC, MEAC, and NEC.  So while Bucknell’s wins against the Big Ten and WAC help elevate the standing of the whole conference, other schools are doing their part as well.

There may be no hotter player in the country right now than C.J. McCollum, who has connected on 21 of his 38 three-point attempts this season.

  • McCollum Sets Career Mark, Leads Nation in Scoring:  Move over, Rob Feaster.  Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum broke Feaster’s mark of 2,224 career points, which had stood since he graduated from Holy Cross in 1995. The Preseason AP All-American broke the mark during a 26-point effort against Sacred Heart on Sunday. McCollum has more than 20 games to pad his record. After he poured in 25 in the second half at Quinnipiac on Wednesday night, McCollum’s 26.3 points per game lead the nation. Eighteen NBA scouts showed up for Lehigh’s opening game against Baylor.  And in case you think all 18 were there just to get a first look at Isaiah Austin, 20 more showed up for Lehigh’s second game against Robert Morris. Most preseason projections had McCollum as a first round pick in this summer’s draft, and his play so far has only helped his stock. Most notably, McCollum has improved his three-point shooting.  He has hit 21-of-38 shots from beyond the arc, good for 55.3 percent.

Reader’s Take


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Big 12 M5: 11.30.12 Edition

Posted by Nate Kotisso on November 30th, 2012

  1. TCU basketball is doing an amazing job making us forget about this performance from a week ago. The Horned Frogs won their third game in a row last night, beating Southern Utah 61-52 in Fort Worth. Kyan Anderson had 21 points and six dimes while Arkansas transfer Devonta Abron scored 17 with 11 of them coming in the second half. So now they’re 6-2 but we all know this is a 6-2 that will be here today and gone come January. They don’t have a lot of weapons offensively and actually average more turnovers as a team than assists. I had the Horned Frogs finishing better than Red Raiders by season’s end and now I regret ever believing that. But it’s ok; this is a learning year. They will get there eventually.
  2. Cowboys Ride For Free has released their totally unbiased predictions from now until New Year’s Eve. On the schedule, Oklahoma State has games at Virginia Tech and home contests vs. South Florida, Missouri State, Central Arkansas, Texas-Arlington, Tennessee Tech and Gonzaga. CRFF has the Pokes going 6-1 with their sole loss coming against the Zags. I also think they’ll go 6-1 during the stretch but I see them losing to Virginia Tech in Blacksburg rather than Gonzaga. There’s no doubt in my mind that the Hokies can score toe-to-toe with OSU, but hey, 11-1 going into conference play? Sounds prrrr-etty good to me.
  3. Viva The Matadors dissects what’s trending for Texas Tech at the moment. According to the piece, Tech’s new style of “controlled chaos” is a big part of their recent turnaround. They’ve adopted a “40 Minutes of Hell” scheme with a 1-2-1-1 defense, forcing 13 steals a game, which is good for fourth in the nation. Those forced turnovers have led to more scoring opportunities, hence their 89 PPG scoring average. The Arizona game on Saturday means so much to the Red Raider program. They haven’t had a big-time opponent come to Lubbock since another top-10 team (Washington) lost to Tech in overtime back in 2009. Texas Tech fever: catch it!
  4. Baylor’s SB Nation blog, Our Daily Bears, had a nice feature exposing the Bears’ poor play on defense so far this season. The article uses a couple of defensive scenarios from the Baylor-St. John’s game in Charleston last week. On one Red Storm fast break, the Bears had three guys checking just one man. When you have a team with their size, athleticism and speed, putting three players on one guy in transition is not just unacceptable but nonsense. Another scenario was Baylor’s ineffectiveness to run a proper screen-and-roll defense which allowed the Red Storm’s D’Angelo Harrison to hit 6-of-9 from three-point land. Guess how College of Charleston runs their offense? Pick. And. Roll. So if a team wants to exploit the Bears, P & R seems to be the way to go. Think John Calipari is looking at that DVD?
  5. This FanPost I found on the Bring On The Cats has nothing to do with basketball. It’s a post that asks the question: What if each Big 12 team were different countries of the world? This will not make you a more savvy Big 12 fan than you already are, but what it will do is make you laugh while at the same time have you nodding your head in agreement at some of these answers. Have a great weekend, everyone.
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Big Ten M5: 11.30.12 Edition

Posted by Deepak Jayanti on November 30th, 2012

  1. Tubby Smith’s Gophers are rolling and have shown great depth but Trevor Mbakwe’s playing time has been limited. Gopher fans might wonder why Mbakwe isn’t starting but Smith is trying to shape the other players’ roles as Mbakwe returns to 100% game shape. Elliott Eliason has earned his spot at the forward position during Mbakwe’s recovery and plays a bruising style of basketball that Smith appreciates. Mbakwe will eventually return to the starting lineup and his athleticism will certainly improve the Gophers, but Eliason provides a different type of game that can complement Mbakwe”s skill set. Eliason pulled down 10 rebounds against a tough Florida State squad on Tuesday night and showed why he can add value. Regardless of when Mbakwe returns to the starting lineup, Eliason’s development will only help Minnesota as they appear to be one of the top five teams in the B1G this season.
  2. Tom Izzo prefers to play a traditional lineup with a center and a power forward rather than four guards and a center. He has played Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne together for most of the Spartans’ games this season but he might move away from that lineup soon. Nix has great post moves and Payne can run the floor with the best of them; together, they can cause unique match-up problems to opposing teams but it could also lead to spacing issues on the floor with both of them cloggin the lane inside. Nix and Payne struggled on the road against Miami earlier this week and Izzo might try to experiment by playing four guards on the court at the same time to mix things up over the next few games.
  3. Is there a “Free Laquinton Ross” movement waiting to happen? Ohio State played an excellent game for 34 minutes on the road against Duke on Wednesday night but fans might be wondering when the sophomore wing will get more playing time. Ross only played 11 minutes but scored nine points against the Blue Devils while another sophomore wing, Sam Thompson, played 25 minutes. Thompson is a bit more mature on the defensive end but Ross can put up points quickly if given a chance. If Ross improves defensively, Matta might give him more minutes but it is only a matter of time before he has a big impact on games. The Duke game proved that the Buckeyes will be a very competitive team throughout the season in large part due to their depth at the wing position.
  4. Speaking of players who have been let loose this season, Illinois’ Tyler Griffey looks like a brand new player in Champaign. Griffey is not a traditional forward who likes to play in the paint but he has a great jumpshot and the new coaching staff has convinced him to pull the trigger from beyond the arc whenever he wants this season. Griffey has been shooting a whopping 56% from beyond the arc thus far and he hit the game winning shot against Gardner-Webb at home last Sunday afternoon. He will continue to play a significant role in the Illini resurgence as head coach Johen Groce’s offense relies on players who can consistently shoot the ball from anywhere on the floor.
  5. Michigan’s Trey Burke could have entered last year’s NBA Draft and probably would have been picked in the first round but he decided to come back for another season in Ann Arbor to lead his team to a Final Four. After a hot start during the first two weeks of the season, he is quickly rising up the NBA Draft boards as one of the best point guards eligible for next year’s draft. Burke has been shooting 48% from the field but his assists have gone up from 4.5 to 7.6 APG as well this year. The sophomore has adapted very well to playing as a true point guard and it should continue to bolster his position on the draft boards especially if Michigan makes a deep run in March.
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SEC M5: 11.30.12 Edition

Posted by KAlmekinder on November 30th, 2012

  1. Michael Dixon is leaving the Missouri Tigers basketball team. News broke Thursday afternoon regarding another unrelated accusation made in 2010 against the Missouri guard purporting his involvement in a forcible rape case. The new information, found in a university police incident report, detailed Dixon’s alleged involvement but no charges were filed against him at the time. Later Thursday evening, a text message from Dixon to a friend of his revealed his intention of leaving the team because of the firestorm surrounding the player. There is no official word from coach Frank Haith regarding his dismissal from the team or if Dixon will remain a student at Missouri. Dixon had been suspended since October for a ‘team violation.’
  2. How bad is the bottom of the SEC this season? Bad enough that Hugh Kellenberger of the Jackson (MS) Clarion-Ledger is already worried about Ole Miss’ RPI rating come March. Kellenberger notes that five SEC teams are outside the top 200 in the rankings right now, and head coach Andy Kennedy is well aware that he has to play all five schools — Arkansas, Auburn, Mississippi State, Georgia, and South Carolina — a total of six times. While the RPI is not the primary factor for seeds in the NCAA Tournament, the numbers are given quite a bit of consideration. Many teams with quality in-conference resumes have been left out of the Big Dance because of their RPI, so Ole Miss needs a few upsets and quality wins to ensure an at-large berth and avoid the wrath of the bubble on Selection Sunday.
  3. The Mayans can claim their infamous ‘end of the world’ hoax centered on the year 2012, which many people still believe (not sure why). Many Kentucky fans might take the years 2018 or 2019 a bit more seriously, though. In an article for ESPN the Magazine, head coach John Calipari stated that he plans on being in Lexington for six to seven more years, a date many of the Wildcat faithful hope will never come. When then-head coach Tubby Smith left Kentucky for Minnesota in 2007, Calipari told ESPN he was “waiting on a phone call” but felt the timing was better in 2009 when he ultimately decided to leave Memphis for Kentucky. Calipari’s current contract ends in 2019.
  4. LSU’s Johnny O’Bryant III strongly believes that his team is not getting the recognition that they should be receiving this year. As seen in this video in the New Orleans Times-Picayune, O’Bryant says that the Tigers are “a lot deeper than most people think.” He certainly has a right to stand up for his teammates, as LSU is now 5-0 on the season, led by O’Bryant with a double-double in each of his last two games.
  5. There was a lot of hype headed into the Florida-Marquette SEC/Big East Challenge game on Thursday night. Marquette was entering its first true road test of the season as well as a rematch of the Sweet Sixteen game (won by the Gators) from last year’s NCAA Tournament. Florida easily won the battle again, 82-49. The story that caught a lot of attention though was the move by coach Billy Donovan to keep Patric Young on the bench last night. Donovan did not start Young because of his “attitude” in practice and thus gave more playing time for Will Yeguete. Young was able to contribute off the bench however, recording three blocks in Florida’s rout.
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ACC M5: 11.30.12 Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on November 30th, 2012

  1. CBS Sports: So this Mason Plumlee kid looks pretty good, huh? Duke‘s middlest Plumlee has come into his own this season with a series of dominating performances that have him looking better than ever. Plumlee has been good  for most of his college career, but it looks like he has turned the corner from good to great this season. Right now, he arguably looks like the best player in the country on an excellent team that has already won more big games in November than most teams will win all year. Duke looks scary good right now, and a lot of that starts with this Plumlee.
  2. Boston Globe: Speaking of turning a corner, it looks like Boston College may be ready to turn one of its own. After a series of losses to start the season, the Eagles beat Penn State as part of the ACC/Big Ten challenge, led by freshman Olivier Hanlan’s 22 points (powered by a remarkable 19 free throw attempts). So, how did this Canadian kid end up at Boston College? It seems that it’s the payoff of head coach Steve Donahue’s surprising recruiting range (he’s as likely to draw players from California and Canada as conventional ACC territory) and Hanlan and his family’s own persistence.
  3. Washington Post: It looks like Virginia guard Malcolm Brogdon will be out for the rest of the season. Tony Bennett has stated that the plan is for Brogdon to redshirt this year while he recovers from a broken bone in his foot that has not been healing as well as had been previously hoped. The pressure for Brogdon to return has been somewhat ameliorated by the return of senior Jontel Evans who had been dealing with his own injury. Evans played in Virginia’s last game against Wisconsin, coming off the bench to play a quiet 16 minutes.
  4. Daily Press: Virginia also figures to see some big changes in scheduling due to the departure of Maryland and the arrival of Louisville to the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Terrapins have met the Cavaliers on the hardwood twice every year for the past 71 years, a staggering history. Though the rivalry between the two schools isn’t as sexy as some other conference rivalries, it seems a shame to bid adieu to so much history. In John Swofford’s conference call about the addition of Louisville, the commissioner stated that the Cardinals would be basically follow Maryland’s old scheduling spot, which means that Louisville is going to be, at least on paper, Virginia’s official conference rival. It’s an understandable move, but one that seems a little silly considering the fact that the Cardinals might be a more natural rival for Virginia Tech, a school that used to share a conference (Metro) with Louisville.
  5. Raleigh News & Observer: It’s not even really a debate: David Thompson is the best basketball player in the history of the ACC. Now, fans have a chance to buy some of his stuff. Like many of his similarly aged compatriots, Thompson is selling some of the mementos from his great career in basketball. One of these items happens to be his championship ring from North Carolina State‘s 1973-74 national title. Bidding ends Saturday if you happen to have at least $16,000 or so in cash that you want to plop down for a legendary piece of Wolfpack basketball history.
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Big East M5: 11.30.12 Edition

Posted by mlemaire on November 30th, 2012

  1. The SEC/Big East Challenge got off to a competitive start last night with the conferences splitting four matchups and each conference scoring a decisive and impressive victory. St. John’s and Notre Dame each scored easy victories for the Big East while Marquette was blown out by Florida and Seton Hall lost a competitive tilt with LSU. The game of the evening was Notre Dame’s thorough dismantling of No. 8 Kentucky, 64-50. It was billed as a battle between youth and experience, athleticism and discipline, and after the Wildcats got off to a quick start, it quickly became apparent which traits would prevail. The young Wildcats struggled to find a rhythm in their first true road test and really look nothing like last season’s juggernaut, at least in the early part of the season. Meanwhile, the Fighting Irish rebounded from a slow start and finished the game shooting 48 percent from the field and 53 percent from behind the arc. The low point for the Fighting Irish may have been when their fans RTC’d as the final buzzer sounded. The Fighting Irish are an experienced and talented team, so beating a bunch of freshmen still figuring out how to play together doesn’t count as a true upset, especially when they won so handily. Even guard Jerian Grant lamented the post-game celebrations telling reporters that the team expected to win the game. The fans should have expected that too.
  2. On the flip side, after Notre Dame handled Kentucky easily, Marquette had a chance to really put the Big East in the driver’s seat as they squared off against No. 7 Florida, and unfortunately, they ended up falling flat on their face. Coach Buzz Williams, ever the candid quote, called the 82-49 drubbing the worst loss of his career and said his team was “really bad in every way.” Williams knows his team better than anyone else, but some credit should go to the Gators, who look like one of the best teams in the country in the early part of the season. Yes, the Golden Eagles, with the exception of junior guard Vander Blue (20 points and four rebounds), were dreadful on both ends of the floor. But Billy Donovan’s club has experienced talent and depth up-and-down the roster, and Marquette is still trying to adjust to life without stars Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom. It is clear Marquette is not as good as it was last year, and I think if the two teams played again in February the Gators would still win, but I would also bet that if that were to happen, we would see a different MU team than the uninspired club we saw last night.
  3. The other statement win for the conference came when the Red Storm stomped coach Frank Martin and South Carolina, 89-65 in New York. The Gamecocks’ lackluster defense allowed D’Angelo Harrison (26 points on 8-of-13 shooting) and his teammates to shoot nearly 57 percent from the floor for the game as the Johnnies controlled the game from the opening tip and overwhelmed the undermanned South Carolina squad. Steve Lavin‘s club is making noise like it could be a really good team as the season progresses, especially if Jakarr Sampson continues to blossom into a star and talented forward Orlando Sanchez gains his eligibility. The team’s two losses (to Murray State and Baylor) are respectable ones, especially for a team full of underclassmen just starting to play together, and the talent and upside of the roster is tremendous. They are deep and athletic across the board, even more so if Sanchez comes back, and they will only get better as the season goes on. Maybe the Lavin rebuilding project is further along than some think.
  4. The national contender that no one is talking about amidst this conference realignment hullabaloo is Georgetown. It makes sense since the Hoyas fields an FCS football program, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that while the Big East is crumbling, one of the most storied programs in all of college basketball remains. Coach John Thompson III didn’t seem too worried when he was asked about the changes, saying that change was inevitable in this day and age and that he didn’t want to get too caught up especially with Tennessee coming to town tonight. He also deflected questions about whether Georgetown would consider breaking off from the conference with other basketball-first programs like Marquette and Villanova to form their own conference built around basketball supremacy. It’s perfectly fine for Thompson III to focus on basketball since he will have very little influence on the direction the school takes, but school administrators and decision-makers should be very concerned about what the next step for their program is. They have a compelling product on the basketball court and multiple excellent athletic programs — albeit ones that don’t make as much money — and riding out the storm in a show of loyalty to the Big East sounds nice and all, but it could leave Georgetown in an unenviable situation should other programs like Connecticut and Cincinnati defect as they so desperately want to.
  5. DePaul appears to be on its way to another NCAA Tournament-less season, something that has become all too common in the last two decades for the Blue Demons, and to make matters worse, they still play in an outdated Allstate Arena that apparently is a real hassle for students and city-dwelling fans to get to. This piece is an excellent look at not only DePaul’s options when it comes to switching arenas when the lease with the Allstate Arena runs out after 2015, but also whether that will make any difference in the program’s long road back to respectability. One option being championed by the likes of Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf is a rent-free stay at the United Center, which seems nice until you start imagining what the United Center would look like for an early season thriller between DePaul and Austin Peay. The other, more tantalizing option is a new arena closer to campus that has the backing of none other than city mayor Rahm Emmanuel. The idea is the definition of preliminary and as the article pointed out, the new arena doesn’t solve the on-court woes, but it opens the door for improvement in student and fan turnout at the very least.
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Morning Five: 11.30.12 Edtion

Posted by nvr1983 on November 30th, 2012

  1. We were thinking it was a quiet day without any news about conference realignment or player eligibility and then we got what is probably the biggest news of this college basketball season (at least in terms of its effect): Michael Dixon will no longer be a part of the Missouri basketball team. Dixon’s departure reportedly centers around two accusations of sexual assault at the university separated by more than two and a half years. We still aren’t sure if this was a decision that Dixon made on his own or if he got a nudge from the Missouri administration, but he has announced that he will be continuing his career elsewhere. This situation obviously has some similarities to that of Xavier’s Dez Wells in that he too was accused of sexual assault but local authorities failed to bring charges against him. The difference is that it does not appear that Missouri expelled Dixon as Xavier did in Wells’ case, but the result appears to be the same — both players moving on.
  2. Media bans are amusing until you have a serious (non-legal) matter and then you are stuck with the media speculating wildly, which is what Josh Pastner is making everyone do now that co-captain Tarik Black missed last night’s game “to give [Black] some time to figure some things out”. Pastner was vague about what had led to Black’s absence and would not even comment on whether the junior forward was considering transferring. We understand a coach’s need to keep issues internal to the program, but it is beginning to seem like Pastner is using it as a crutch to hoard information that might be provide more ammunition for the growing chorus of people questioning his control over the program.
  3. We have been saying it in this spot for the past few days and yesterday Gregg Doyel joined the chorus of people proclaiming that the Big East is on life support. As Doyel poignantly notes, many of the original programs that are left in the next-generation Big East are too good for what they are being put through. St. John’s, Georgetown, Seton Hall, Villanova, and Providence deserve better — much better — and we don’t disagree with a word of Doyel’s article here. As much as we hate conference realignment, if we were a traditional Big East basketball school we would be looking at whatever options were open to get away from the sinking ship that the once-proud conference has become. The Atlantic 10 — sure. A Catholic school basketball super-conference — why not? Joining the ACC as basketball-onlys — make the call. But the way these remaining schools are tying their futures to the likes of Tulane and East Carolina? It’s embarrassing.
  4. We hesitate at RTC to ever link to a slideshow of any kind — they could be the most annoying aspect of modern web publishing — but this one seemed interesting enough to do so. The Memphis Business Journal unveiled an analysis of the 15 most profitable basketball programs in America earlier this week, and the school at the top spot with 2010 profits of $27.6 million — Louisville — might give people a little more indication as to why the ACC found the Cardinals enticing as a new member. There’s won’t be many surprises on this list with many of the usual suspects represented, but we were most surprised by the amount of expenses that #1 Louisville ($13.3 million) and #2 Duke ($13.8 million) had in comparison to some of its profitable contemporaries (e.g., #4 UNC = $6.5 million; #6 Syracuse = $7.5 million). Are the Cards and Devils serving their players meals in diamond-encrusted golden goblets?
  5. Seth Davis is back with this week’s Hoops Thoughts, focusing on Arizona State’s improvement in large part due to Jahii Carson, Jerry Tarkanian’s fitness for the Hall of Fame, and his usual assortment of tidbits, notes and other bullet-pointed errata. He gives mentions to Ed Daniels’ hair, Pe’Shon Howard’s jumper, the 70/20/10 rule, Gorgui Dieng’s wrist, and rooting for Kevin Parrom. Give it a read before you start you weekend — you won’t be disappointed and you’re likely to learn a few things in the process.
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ATB: Notre Dame Knocks Off Kentucky, Florida Destroys Marquette and Doug McDermott is NOT Larry Bird…

Posted by Chris Johnson on November 30th, 2012

Chris Johnson is an RTC Columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn.

Tonight’s Lede. The “Other” Inter-League Challenge Doesn’t Fail to Entertain. There’s a power shift afoot in college hoops, a big, transcendent, diffusion of brand name programs. Thanks in large part to conference realignment, the sport’s epicenter will soon reside in the ACC and Big Ten. Those two leagues had their fun earlier in the week. On Thursday, the SEC and realignment-riddled Big East grabbed the national spotlight. The traditional Northeastern hoops power league may not stand on solid footing once all this movement settles down for good, but for one night, the conference provided a bit of magic. When Notre Dame ransacked the young Kentucky Wildcats on their home floor, proving the merits of veteran leadership and savvy over recruiting rankings, and temporarily accomplishing the seemingly impossible feat of distracting attention away from an Irish football National Championship season, this clip, culled from the annals of Gladiator, immediately came to mind. Thank you Notre Dame: we are entertained.

Your Watercooler Moment. Will The Real SEC Front-runner Please Stand Up?

Two words describe the Gators beatdown of Marquette in Thursday night’s SEC-Big East challenge tilt: balanced and dominant (Photo credit: AP).

I had serious questions heading into the season about Kentucky’s ability to completely turn over its roster and win an arguably top-heavy SEC. Thursday night’s loss confirmed my doubts. Throw in Florida’s 82-49 drubbing of Marquette, and I’m now fully on board with the Gators’ chances of stealing the league title from the young Wildcats. You may be wondering why I’m so bullish on Florida. This statistical anecdote may help explain: Against the Golden Eagles, a likely NCAA Tournament team, Florida had six players in double figures, and got just six points from leading scorer Kenny Boynton. If Boynton’s going to shoot 2-for-11 and Florida is still blowing a team out, just think what the Gators are capable of when Boynton’s locked in. We knew coming in that Billy Donovan’s team had a fair shot to dethrone Kentucky this season. Thursday night furthered that notion. We’ll get a better sense of Florida’s true value over the next couple weeks. The Gators travel to Florida State on December 5, then 10 days later go out west for a date with Arizona. Win those two games, and you’re talking about one of the best non-conference resumes in the country. Early as it is, this team has the looks of a Final Four outfit. When Billy Donovan has this much talent, national championship aspirations are not at all misguided. This team belongs in that conversation.

At the Buzzer. Your annual Notre Dame court rushing came before Big East play. This one was well-worth it – When you take down the basketball monolith from Lexington, a joyous celebration is in order. Even Heisman Trophy candidate Manti Te’o got into the act (including an interview with Dick Vitale during the game).

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