Morning Five: 11.28.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on November 28th, 2012

  1. We might as well call this the “Realignment Day” edition of the Morning Five because it will be the dominant theme. Rumors have been swirling all week that the ACC was poised to counteract the Big Ten’s raid of Maryland over the weekend by adding another team in the Terps’ place. According to Brett McMurphy of, the ACC presidents are meeting this morning (probably while you’re reading this blurb) to decide if it wants to add a 14th school in all sports, and an “industry source” expects that the choice will be Louisville. Cincinnati and Connecticut are reportedly the other two schools under consideration, but the ACC feels that it can grab those two at a later date if it decides to expand to 16 members — figuring they will be there in the future with a lack of other viable options. Louisville in the ACC makes about as much sense as any of the other crazy realignment moves, but in terms of sheer basketball prowess, can a league harboring Roy Williams, Mike Krzyzewski, Rick Pitino and Jim Boeheim really not self-combust into nucler winter wormhole of egomania? If true, this news is astonishing.
  2. Speaking of Maryland, top brass at the school have openly contemplated a reduced exit fee when it ultimately leaves the ACC for the greener pastures of the Big Ten. Only one problem with that idea — the ACC isn’t having it. In fact, the conference slapped a lawsuit on the Terps Tuesday that quite clearly states it expects a check for the sum of $52.26 million payable to league offices as a result of Maryland’s decision to leave. Upon the addition of Notre Dame in all sports except football back in September, the league presidents voted to nearly triple the exit fee to prevent situations like this from occurring — all of the 12 signed except for two, Florida State and Maryland. Whether the league ultimately gets the total amount paid is important in that it could set a compelling precedent if another school — namely, those Seminoles — also feels the draw elsewhere in pursuit of endless television dollars thrown their way by another conference. Even for big-time athletic programs, $50M is a lot of money, and especially so for broke ones like Maryland. This could get ugly before Maryland ever steps foot onto a Big Ten playing surface.
  3. The only “real” realignment news of yesterday was that the Big East added Tulane (in all sports) and East Carolina (in football only) to its ongoing transformation from the best basketball conference in all of the land to a watered-down Conference USA. We are assuming it will only be a matter of time before East Carolina joins for all sports, of course, but it has to be said that this league is becoming an absolute joke. This is clearly a panicked move, but at this point the Big East is probably looking for anything fill in the gaps before the conference falls apart. We have to wonder, though, that if the Big East could put the genie back in the bottle and go back to that ridiculous but ultimately sublime premise of a northeastern-based basketball league anchored by the likes of Georgetown, Syracuse, Villanova, and St. John’s, if they’d now be willing to turn back that clock. It’s too late now.
  4. Yesterday we referenced an investigation into Missouri’s suspended guard Michael Dixon and later Tuesday a police report surfaced in which the narrative shows that Dixon was accused of forcible rape in August, but was not charged with a crime by local prosecutors. Somewhat similar to the Dez Wells story at Xavier, there was insufficient evidence to reasonably bring charges against Dixon and so the case against him was closed on November 16. Presumably this may have caused some of the strange tweeting by Dixon, Kim English and a woman who claims that Dixon assaulted her over the Thanksgiving weekend, but without knowing the details of the Dixon case, it’s difficult to speculate too much further. A school certainly has discretion to punish Dixon if it feels the facts are warranted, but we have trouble with situations like this one appears to be, where there is insufficient evidence to accuse a player of a crime but a school still feels the need to punish someone. Let’s hope this all resolves itself soon.
  5. The ACC might be bolstering its basketball presence for years to come with a presumed addition of top 10 historical program Louisville, but as of now, the first night of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge fell squarely on the side of their midwestern-based counterparts. Not only did #2 Indiana lambaste #14 North Carolina in the headliner game, but #23 Minnesota ripped #25 Florida State in Tallahassee and Nebraska did likewise at Wake Forest. With #3 Michigan’s solid home win against #21 NC State and Maryland’s strong win at Northwestern coupled with Virginia Tech’s surprising blowout of Iowa, the Big Ten has taken a commanding 4-2 lead into tonight’s action. Why is it commanding — the answer lies in the conference’s two road wins. With three home team all favored tonight — Wisconsin, Illinois, and Penn State — along with a reasonable chance for one of Purdue, Michigan State and Ohio State to pull off a road upset, it appears that the Big Ten is well-positioned to win its fourth Challenge in a row. It says here that the final tally will be 8-4.
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Conference Challenges, Invitationals & Hardwood Series

Posted by rtmsf on September 27th, 2007

Now that schedules are out, we thought it was worth a quick look at the new so-called conference challenges that are set to begin this year. We already know about the ACC’s annual emasculation and disembowelment of the Big very small 10 Conference, but we will recap that one too while we’re on the topic.

Big East / SEC Invitational

Big East / SEC Invitational

The Big East, having played in this sort of made-for-tv event once before (the ACC/Big East Challenge from 1989-91 resulted in an evenly split 12-12 record), has decided that it wants to show its wares against the SEC these days. This is a noble pursuit inasmuch as the two leagues have equalized in power over the last 15 years, with the Big East falling and the SEC rising. The confounding problem with this event is that it only involves four games annually and ESPN determines the matchups. While at first blush we thought this might be a good thing – visions of UConn-Florida, Kentucky-Syracuse, Tennessee-Georgetown and LSU-Seton Hall were dancing through our heads (ok not so much on the last one) – but upon actual review of this year’s schedule, we have to wonder if this will be worth our time at all.

December 5 (Birmingham Jefferson Civic Center; Birmingham, Ala.)
7:00 p.m. West Virginia vs. Auburn – ESPN2
9:30 p.m. Georgetown vs. Alabama – ESPN

December 6 (The Wachovia Center; Philadelphia, Pa.)
7:00 p.m. South Carolina vs. Providence – ESPN2
9:30 p.m. LSU vs. Villanova – ESPN

Out of this group, we see what, maybe one or two NCAA Tournament teams (Georgetown and who? Villanova or WVU?). Sure, Bama losing Ronald Steele couldn’t be anticipated, but what’s up with choosing last year’s SEC bottom dwellers Auburn, LSU and South Carolina? Is the SEC willfully trying to lose these games?

Big 12 / Pac-10 Hardwood Series

So that brings us to the other new conference challenge, which is slated to pit the Big 12 and Pac-10 against each other. This challenge mimics the ACC-Big 10 version in that every team will participate, and some even twice (Arizona & Stanford this year). Also, teams will play at home arenas rather than neutral sites, which ultimately makes early-season games more exciting.

Thurs., Nov. 29, 2007
8:00 p.m. Oregon at Kansas State – ESPN2
10:00 p.m. Oklahoma at USC – FSN

Fri., Nov. 30, 2007
8:00 p.m. Washington State at Baylor – ESPNU
10:00 p.m. Iowa State at Oregon State – FSN

Sat., Dec. 1, 2007
4:30 p.m. Washington at Oklahoma State – ESPN
10:00 p.m. Missouri at California – FSN

Sun., Dec. 2, 2007
2:00 p.m. Arizona State at Nebraska – ESPNU
2:00 p.m. Stanford at Colorado – ESPN2
5:00 p.m. Texas A&M at Arizona – FSN

7:00 p.m. Texas at UCLA – FSN

Outside the 10-game series window:
7:oo p.m. Arizona at Kansas (Sun., Nov. 25) – ESPN
3:30 p.m. Stanford vs. Texas Tech (Sat., Dec. 22) – ESPN2

Now that’s more like it. There are seven legitimately good games in this group, and a couple of them are potential blockbusters (Texas-UCLA and Arizona-Kansas). Furthermore, this could go a long way toward improving the schedule strength of these two conferences, both of which have traditionally been lower among the BCS conferences.

ACC / Big 10 Challenge

ACC / Big Ten Challenge 2

And now for the annual event where the ACC has not only won but dominated the Big 10 for eight years running. 48 wins, 27 losses. This year should be no different. Even though the ACC is a little down from last season, the Big 10 is a lot down, and we see no more than four wins from our midwestern friends this year.

Monday, Nov. 26
7:00 p.m. Wake Forest at Iowa – ESPN2

Tuesday, Nov. 27
7:00 p.m. Georgia Tech at Indiana – ESPN
7:30 p.m. Minnesota at Florida State – ESPN2
7:00 p.m. Northwestern at Virginia – ESPNU

9:00 p.m. Wisconsin at Duke – ESPN
9:30 p.m. Purdue at Clemson – ESPN2

Wednesday, Nov. 28
7:00 p.m. N.C. State at Michigan State – ESPN
7:30 p.m. Illinois at Maryland – ESPN2
7:00 p.m. Boston College at Michigan – ESPNU
9:00 p.m. North Carolina at Ohio State – ESPN
9:30 p.m. Virginia Tech at Penn State – ESPN2

A couple of final thoughts on these conference challenges. We’d like to see more conferences get involved with this, even if only the top few teams in the mid-major conferences were playing other top teams. A Missouri Valley/WCC or CAA/A10 challenge would be really instructional for considering mid-majors in March – a little like BracketBusters but more comprehensive.

Additionally, it should be a really fun ten days after the Thanksgiving weekend settling in each night for these games. The Big East and SEC have got to give us some better matchups, though.

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