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- After Tuesday night’s embarrassing loss to Middle Tennessee State, UCLA fans were questioning what Ben Howland could do to resurrect the floundering program. Howland appears to have answered them by reinstating Reeves Nelson after suspending the junior for what has been described as “behavior issues”. While the decision certainly makes the Bruins a more talented team that does not appear to be UCLA’s primary problem right now. They certainly were not any less talented than Loyola Marymount or Middle Tennessee State even without Nelson, but still lost to both of those teams. Now, Howland will be using a point guard who was involved in a computer theft earlier this year, an incredibly overweight big man, and a player whom he appears to have brought back in a desperate attempt to save this season. As Jeff Goodman notes that this act screams of Howland putting winning above everything else. It will be interesting to see how this affect UCLA’s recruiting going forward. They already have signed Kyle Anderson, who appears to be sticking with UCLA although we would argue that he doesn’t have much choice after signing with them, but we imagine this turmoil might affect Shabazz Muhammad, who apparently was watching both UCLA and Kentucky on Tuesday night.
- The NCAA has a history of making interesting decisions and yesterday’s announcement that Joe Castiglione, the athletic director at Oklahoma, had been appointed to the Division I Men’s Basketball Committee appears to be another one of them. Castiglione replaces former Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe, a man whose career fell so precipitously in the past few months that he got his own fake Twitter account that has over 15,000 followers. Castiglione appears to have a solid resume, but the timing is a bit odd since his school was put on probation just a week ago and although it appears that Castiglione probably could not have stopped it the selection is an interesting one especially in light of the fact that Connecticut‘s Jeff Hathaway is also on the same committee and serves as chairman despite his school having to take a scholarship hit and potentially being ineligible to play in next year’s NCAA Tournament due to a low APR score.
- The Kentucky fans who showed up en masse at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night for the team’s resounding win over Kansas will get another chance to return New York next year, but will have to head over to Brooklyn instead of Manhattan as the Wildcats are scheduled to play Maryland in next year’s Barclay Center Classic. We don’t know who will be playing at Kentucky next season, but we expect that they will be very talented and there will be plenty of Wildcat fans at the game. The night’s undercard is Morehead State against Long Island, which might actually bring some fans to the game given the proximity of the school.
- With many of the top recruits in the country having already committed or in the process of committing to a school Basketball Prospectus took a look at “basketball recruiting royalty,” which they use to refer to Duke, North Carolina, and Kentucky. While the article does take quite a few liberties in assuming why or even if those schools target certain recruits based on where they are ranked and consequently what type of player they will be, it is an interesting read. It also provides some interesting statistics on how often players ranked in each recruiting ranking range stay at a school they committed to before leaving either due to graduation, transfer, or to the NBA. We would love to see someone try a more formal approach to analyze this and see if there is a “sweet spot” for schools to recruit in although it would probably change whenever the NBA makes its decision on how long a player has to stay in college before turning pro.
- The ratings for last Friday’s Carrier Classic are in and they were excellent as we all expected. The telecast received a 2.7 rating (3.859 million viewers), which is the highest rating that ESPN has ever had for a November college basketball game (technically tied with a 1992 Preseason NIT game). The press release claims that this is ESPN’s most-watched college basketball game since March 2005 when 3.78 million watched Duke play North Carolina. We are assuming they are referring to the Nielsen rating because 3.859 million is certainly more than 3.78 million. Of course, before we start getting too excited about this rating we should point out that more people watched ESPN’s College Football Scoreboard on Saturday night (2.8 rating for 4.232 million viewers) than watched an actual college basketball game.