The Big East’s Top 25 (or so) Non-Conference Games of 2012-13

Posted by Dan Lyons on November 9th, 2012

While Big East basketball is always a spectacle, this conference season has even more added juice with the impending departures of Syracuse, Pittsburgh, and (eventually) Notre Dame.  However, before we get to conference games, the Big East is involved in some really intriguing non-conference games this season. Big East teams will be playing all over the United States, Germany, and on a few aircraft carriers. Let’s take a look at the best that the Big East has to offer in the non-conference slate this season.

Syracuse and San Diego State tip off the season on the deck of the USS Midway this Sunday (AP)

25. Pittsburgh v. Oakland, November 17, 7 PM

The Panthers have a rather light non-conference slate this season, but don’t expect them to look past the Golden Grizzlies. Oakland has a history of playing tough schedules, and won’t be intimidated by the Zoo. Oakland is coming off of a bit of a down year in 2011-12 when they finished 20-16 (11-7), but made the NCAA Tournament in both 2009-10, when they were knocked out in the first round by Pittsburgh, and 2010-11.

24. DePaul @ Auburn, November 30, 9 PM

Look for DePaul to try to do the conference proud when they head down to take on the Auburn Tigers as part of the SEC-Big East Challenge. This DePaul squad should be better than it has been in years past, returning dynamic forward Cleveland Melvin and dangerous guard Brandon Young.  Auburn is coming off of a poor 15-16 season, and could be ripe for a big non-conference road win for the Blue Demons.

23. Rutgers v. Iona, Madison Square Garden, December 8, 9:30 PM

One of these New York metropolitan-area teams is coming off of a great season that ended in a heartbreaking NCAA tournament loss to BYU. The other is continually striving to build its program, and aspires to have such success.  It almost seems backwards that Iona is the more accomplished team at the moment, but isn’t that what makes college basketball so great? A big performance by the Scarlet Knights at the Garden could go a long way in setting the tone for a run at a tournament berth in the Big East.

22. St. John’s v. Detroit, November 13, 2 PM

The Johnnies tip off their season against a very dangerous Detroit squad led by superstar Ray McCallum. St. John’s has a number of impressive young players themselves, and head coach Steve Lavin will return to the sideline after battling cancer last season. While many look forward to what should be a fun match-up between McCallum and D’Angelo Harrison, the St. John’s star was recently benched in the team’s final exhibition for disciplinary reasons. If Lavin continues to have issues with his top guard, it could prove very problematic for the Red Storm next week.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Tipping Off the Big East Countdown: #9 St. John’s

Posted by Dan Lyons on October 26th, 2012

Few programs in the country went through the adversity that St. John’s found itself facing last season.  Head coach Steve Lavin underwent surgery to treat prostate cancer in October of last year, and he was only able to coach four games in early November before deciding to sit out for the rest of the season. Multiple key players left during the season for various reasons, and at times the Red Storm were only able to play with a six-man rotation of scholarship players. This year should prove to be a challenge for the Johnnies, especially after the departure of Moe Harkless following last season, but they return a solid nucleus and add a number of talented freshmen who look to continue the restoration project that is Steven Lavin’s St. John’s basketball program.

2011-12 Record: 13-19, 6-12

2011-12 Postseason: None

Steve Lavin returns to the St. John’s bench in 2012-13. Can he bring back the success of the 2010-11 campaign?


St. John’s non-conference schedule is fairly light. The Storm open with Detroit and the ever-dangerous Ray McCallum at Carnesecca Arena before heading to Charleston, South Carolina, for the DirecTV Charleston Classic. In the opening round of the tournament the Storm take on host College of Charleston before facing either Auburn or Murray State. The field also features Big 12 power Baylor, Boston College, Colorado, and Dayton. St. John’s will also host South Carolina in Queens in the Big East/SEC Challenge.  St. John’s plays one non-conference game in Madison Square Garden, against Fordham, and will play one game in Brooklyn’s new Barclays Center against St. Francis. In the Big East, the team opens at Villanova on January 2, and has home-and-homes with Rutgers, Georgetown, Notre Dame, and DePaul.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Let Them Play: A Case For UConn’s Big East Tournament Eligibility

Posted by mlemaire on October 19th, 2012

When the NCAA denied Connecticut‘s final appeal and ruled the Huskies ineligible for the 2013 NCAA Tournament, it seemingly slammed the door on any postseason opportunities for the team as the conference presidents ruled in March to bar any ineligible teams from the conference tournament. In fact, there can’t have been too many people who were even aware that UConn has one last card to play until New Haven Register reporter David Borges just casually dropped this  revelatory nugget in the middle of a recent blog post.

Of course, UConn won’t be able to participate in this year’s event. Or will it? While the chances are extremely slim, UConn is holding out a bit of hope that the league presidents change their mind on their decision last March to bar any postseason-ineligible teams from its conference tourney. The presidents meet again in a couple of weeks in Chicago for what would appear to be the Huskies’ last chance. UConn is hoping that, since the players responsible for the poor APR scores are long-gone (and, now, Jim Calhoun is gone, too), that the presidents may reconsider.

Now it should be noted that Borges immediately noted that this was extremely unlikely and quoted Big East commissioner Mike Aresco as saying that UConn had notified the presidents about making one final plea, but still, why the heck didn’t more people know about this last-ditch opportunity?

Jim Calhoun and the roster of the 2009-10 team are gone, so why can’t Connecticut play in its conference tournament? (AP Photo)

At any rate, UConn may not have told the league presidents whether it wants them to reconsider their decision, but we will gladly make their case for them. The program should not go unpunished for its academic shortcomings, but its current players and head coach — whom had no part in what caused the ineligibility in the first place — deserve something to play for.

In order to build a successful case, we need to examine how we even got here in the first place. In October of last year, the NCAA passed a new set of academic standards that stated that schools must have a two-year APR average of 930 or a four-year APR average score of 900. APR stands for Academic Progress Rate which the NCAA uses to determine the continued academic success of the players within a specific program. Unfortunately for UConn, the school’s APR for the 2009-10 school year was just 826, and even though the program’s APR bounced back to 978 for the 2010-11 season, the damage was done and the averages weren’t going to be up to snuff. Now feels like a good time to point out there is nothing wrong with the NCAA punishing schools that don’t graduate enough of their players. The NCAA may just be trying to prop up their claims of “academics first” but they are at least trying to hold schools accountable for the players in their care and under their direction.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

ACC M5: 10.12.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on October 12th, 2012

  1. Chicago Tribune: (author’s Note: with Notre Dame joining the conference, it’s time to start including some midwestern media outlets) According to Brian Hamilton, there was mutual interest between the ACC and Madison Square Garden in hosting the ACC Tournament, but the Garden never bid for it. Swofford noted that Madison Square Garden wanted an annual relationship with the league, but the ACC wishes to continue its current location model (normally in North Carolina, but moving around regularly). North Carolina makes the most sense from a fan perspective: It’s central location is closest to the most schools, making fans more likely to make the trip.
  2. BC Interruption: There’s cautious optimism out of Chestnut Hill! Whether or not its record shows it, Boston College improved dramatically from 2011 to 2012. Over the course of the season the Eagles went from a ragtag group of teenagers who were blown out by Holy Cross at home to a rough around the edges team that shocked the eventual ACC champion. Expect the Eagles to improve markedly again this season, as they get more experience. However, there’s still a talent ceiling for this group — especially after the trio of Ryan Anderson, Patrick Heckmann and Dennis Clifford. Don’t expect Boston College to find itself on the bubble, but the watchability of Steve Donahue’s team should improve.
  3. Fox Sports Carolinas: Roy Williams talked a little bit in this article about finding out about tumors on his kidneys. Both of Williams’ parents died of cancer, so the news hit the UNC head coach particularly hard. In addition to the great news that the tumors were benign, the best part of this story is the support for Williams from fans, his team and even from his opponents: “Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski called three times, and Wake Forest head man Jeff Bzdelik sent ice cream.” Williams spoke with the rest of the conference coaches as well. This story proves, once again, that some things are bigger than basketball.
  4. Orlando Sentinel: Florida State has eight newcomers joining the roster this season led by Devon Bookheart and three new seven-footers. There are around three people out of a million over seven feet tall, and Leonard Hamilton is bringing in three of them this year alone. While raw, the three — with the possible exception of Michael Ojo — should see decent playing time this season thanks to all of the spots that opened up after last season. Even when players aren’t seven feet tall, they should fit Hamilton’s system well thanks to their off -the-charts wingspan and athleticism.
  5. The In what’s rapidly becoming a theme, Brad Brownell and Clemson have 12 first or second-year players. Across the league teams are much younger than in most years, heavily relying on underclassmen to shoulder significant responsibility. From Brownell’s comments, he’s really concerned with energy on both ends of the floor. He wants to play quickly (but efficiently) on offense and defense, so the team is doing a lot of defensive drill work. One thing that still needs significant improvement is the team’s communication, which is the linchpin for a strong team defense.
Share this story

Big East M5: Columbus Day Edition

Posted by mlemaire on October 8th, 2012

  1. Today is the rare double holiday and no offense to Columbus Day, which is great and all, but let’s face it, the first day of the 2012-13 Big East Microsite is a far bigger deal across the country. If you read Will’s opening post, you know that we have a solid group of folks this year and we are aiming to be bigger and better this season. So let’s dive right in, shall we? It seems only fitting that we should lead off with a note involving new commissioner Mike Aresco, who spoke to reporters about the state of the conference this weekend and had some interesting things to say about basketball in particular. The jist of his chat was that he isn’t worried about weak football teams dragging down the brand because Big East basketball is “legendary.” I guess we shouldn’t tell him that some of the conference’s most “legendary” programs are leaving soon enough for greener pastures and one has already left. We will cut him some slack since its his job to make the conference sound good and because the basketball will remain pretty darn good. Frankly, we have always thought of the Big East as a basketball conference, I am sorry, but Syracuse v. Connecticut just doesn’t hold the same allure on the gridiron as it does on the hardwood.
  2. Well, that was quick. Facing a rather grim season outlook, UConn fans got a surge of hope in September when the nation’s No. 1 prospect, Jabari Parker, took an in-home visit from the Huskies after new head coach Kevin Ollie was promoted last month. But just as quickly as it began, it has ended, as Parker has announced his five finalists and UConn is not among them. UConn was hardly a favorite at any point in the race so it shouldn’t be too disappointing. And in some sense, just the fact that Ollie has enough influence to get through Parker’s doorway after the Huskies had already been cut from the list means that the program’s recruiting is in capable hands.
  3. I don’t have any idea how far away the “very near future” is but it sure sounds like Georgetown and coach John Thompson, III, are very close to getting a new, on-campus, athletic facility that would help Georgetown’s athletic teams stay competitive in the conference’s ongoing facilities race. The new building will cost $60 million dollars and basically only needs a final round of fundraising before the school can get started on its construction. The facility is going to house multiple sports teams, but make no mistake about it, Georgetown knows where its bread is buttered, and this move is designed to help the basketball teams stay competitive. The conference is full of programs with glimmering, shiny, multi-million dollar facilities, and it is high time that Georgetown got its own.  It is far too early to see what type of impact the facility will have on recruiting, but needless to say, it won’t hurt.
  4. The good folks over at CBS Sports examined the question of whether Madison Square Garden is better-suited to host the ACC Tournament than the Big East Tournament, especially in the wake of all the defections. There are a lot of angles to analyze here but it does seem surprising Madison Square Garden didn’t at least take a shot at landing the ACC, which figures to feature better altogether basketball programs and programs like Syracuse and Pittsburgh that always draw well in New York City. It is also pretty clear that while the Big East has done an admirable job of patching up its basketball holes, the tournament isn’t going to have the same aura about it. I would explain more but frankly they do a better job, so just go read the article.
  5. We end with something fluffy and really there is nothing fluffier than a nice “top list.” Taking a break from its excellent coverage of the local Orange, ranked the top five transfers coming into the Big East this season and the list is pretty excellent. Personally I would have said Luke Hancock will make more of an impact for Louisville than Tony Chennault will for Villanova but that is the beauty of these lists. They are pointless and fun-to-read at the same time. We will try to stay away from these for the most part and deliver some actual news. But it’s the first day, and this post is already late. So enjoy and welcome back for what should be another excellent season of college basketball.
Share this story

Madison Square Garden Passes Up ACC Tournament: Huge Mistake?

Posted by Chris Johnson on September 26th, 2012

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

Over the past three years, conference realignment has precipitated a shift of thriving programs away from the Big East into the ACC. Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame, three valuable pieces of the Big East’s hoops power hierarchy, saw weakness in the Big East’s deteriorating leadership and declining status in the BCS power structure. They sought greater stability and a more lucrative TV payout in their new conference. The Big East was fracturing, so it was not at all surprising that these programs wanted out. It is hard to fault their move. But like so many of the realignment-related movements of late, their league hop had detrimental consequences on the Big East’s basketball league. For years Syracuse and Pittsburgh have contended for conference titles, played fierce rivalry games and did their part to help make the Big East one of the nation’s most compelling hoops leagues. Notre Dame is, by all accounts, a football school, but had itself risen among the league’s hoops upper-tier under head coach Mike Brey. When these programs announced their departures, it wasn’t just a blow to the league’s membership, but to the Big East brand itself, the very essence of which rested upon such fierce hardwood drama. This was a familiar wave of movement; it wasn’t long ago that the ACC poached Virginia Tech, Boston College and Miami, another football-motivated move that impacted its basketball competition at the expense of the Big East. These six defections over the last decade (Boston College, Miami, Virginia Tech, Notre Dame, Syracuse, Pittsburgh), along with West Virginia’s jump to the Big 12, has conspired to reconstitute the Big East into an amorphous heap of disparate programs, a depleted league robbed of much of its hoops equity.

The Big East won’t serve up the same tantalizing display of hoops heavyweights in its conference tournament after the current contract with Madison Square Garden runs out in 2016 (Photo credit: Chris Chambers/Getty Images).

The realignment-powered decline of Big East basketball is nothing new. It is a topic I (along with many other college hoops scribes around the web) have visited before in this space. This latest bit of news counts as a rare positive step for the revamped league, and it was brought to light Tuesday by’s Brett McMurphy. The ACC may have stolen the Big East’s basketball talent, but it can’t take its legendary conference tournament venue! Take that, conference realignment! Madison Square Garden, according to McMurphy, did not submit a bid for hosting rights to the 2016-21 ACC Tournaments. The newly-unveiled Barclays Center, home of the re-branded Brooklyn Nets, also passed up the soon-to-be hoops super-conference’s league tourney. The Big East’s current deal with MSG runs out in 2016, but an extension is in the works to keep the league’s tournament at the historic New York City arena through 2026, according to the New York Post.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

More Fireworks in the Nation’s Capital? NCAA Selects Washington, D.C. as Last 2013 Regional Host

Posted by EJacoby on May 17th, 2012

The 2013 NCAA Tournament will be a milestone, marking the 75th all-time ‘Big Dance’ since Oregon won the first one in 1939. A lot has changed over the years, and it’s much harder to win the Tournament in its current 68-team format than it was for the Ducks in a total field of just eight schools then. In “a concerted effort to include cities with a rich history to help mark the milestone,” according to the new VP of NCAA Championships, Mark Lewis, the committee selected Washington, D.C. as the final host of the 2013 Regionals. The nation’s capital joins previously selected Los Angeles, Indianapolis, and Arlington, Texas, as the four regional locations, with Atlanta hosting next year’s Final Four. The Verizon Center in DC has played host to several classic tournament games in recent history, and the NCAA hopes to recreate that magic next year.

George Mason Provided Fireworks in Washington, D.C. in 2006 (Washington Post)

“In the end, we think celebrating 75 years of one of the country’s favorite sporting events in our nation’s capital and a great basketball city is fitting,” said Lewis, whose committee’s decision came down to Syracuse, Brooklyn, Madison Square Garden (Manhattan), and the District of Columbia. It would have seemed fitting for MSG, the “World’s Most Famous Arena,” to have won on this criteria of rich history, but the arena faced scheduling conflicts with its priority tenants, the Knicks (NBA) and Rangers (NHL). The Verizon Center, while not nearly as historic a venue, is a more frequently-used arena for college games, serving as the primary home court for Georgetown and hosting a number of other games such as the BB&T Classic. The Hoyas will be the official host of this site and as such will be unable to play in that venue during next season’s Tourney.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Cincinnati Can Make Serious Postseason Noise… If They Qualify

Posted by EJacoby on February 10th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is a correspondent and regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter. He filed this report after Cincinnati’s win over St. John’s on Wednesday. 

While it may not have even been the fourth or fifth biggest game across the country on Wednesday evening, Cincinnati taking on St. John’s in Madison Square Garden was a massive matchup for the road team. The Bearcats had lost three of four games, including two straight on the road, and needed this win away from home. That wasn’t a problem as Mick Cronin’s team shellacked the Red Storm for a 76-54 victory and made it look easy. Cincinnati played 12 players in the game, 11 of whom scored, and played incredibly crisp basketball on both ends of the floor. Three different guards scored in double figures alongside leading scorer Yancy Gates, and the team used a stifling 2-3 zone defense that caused problems all night for St. John’s. You would have never known that the Bearcats were a bubble team, a label that they look to shed in the coming weeks.

Mick Cronin's Bearcats Could Make Some Noise if they Make the NCAA Tournament (AP Photo/J. Fuqua)

In the process of the 22-point victory, Cincinnati looked like a Top 25 team, one that could pose some serious matchup problems for opponents in the postseason. Gates scored 14 points with nine rebounds in just 21 minutes, going 6-8 from the field and playing strong interior defense in the zone. He was joined by starters Sean Kilpatrick, Cashmere Wright, and Dion Dixon in double figures, as the guards found easy baskets by way of strong possessions against the St. John’s zone. Wright, Dixon, and Gates are upperclassmen who have been through the fire for this team and it shows. Kilpatrick is the sophomore but just happens to one of the more talented scorers in the Big East (15.4 PPG). A deep bench joins these leaders to combine for a great formula of talent, experience, and depth – and it was all on display on Wednesday.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Tracking The Four: Syracuse Gets Melo & Its Swagger Back

Posted by EJacoby on February 7th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter. TT4 will cover four selected teams of interest – Syracuse, Indiana, Murray State, and UNLV – by tracking their ups, downs, and exciting developments throughout the course of the season.

What made Syracuse look so beatable in the past three games? Perhaps the answer is as simple as we thought, and Orange big man Fab Melo is just that important to the team’s success. He returned on Saturday and the Orange completely ran St. John’s off the floor in a performance worthy of a number one team. Meanwhile, Indiana and UNLV each split their two-game schedules full of tough road matchups. Murray State continues to cruise along undefeated and is getting closer to its big matchup with St. Mary’s. Let’s see how each team got it done this week:

Syracuse Orange

Michael Carter-Williams Had the Memorable Highlight from Syracuse's Dominant Win Last Week (AP Photo)

  • Trending UP Because… – They put together perhaps their best performance of the season on Saturday by scoring nearly 100 points on the road at St. John’s in their only game of the week. Center Fab Melo returned from suspension for the game and had a solid individual performance (14 points, two blocks, 5-6 shooting), but it’s the collective play of the team’s defense and transition offense that is more telling of his impact. The Orange (23-1, 10-1 Big East) held its opponent to 38% shooting on two-point attempts, whereas they were allowing an average of 44.4% in three games without him. Melo was on the receiving end of several lobs in transition as the team consistently found easy offense in the 95-70 win. The Cuse look to have their swagger back and will try to keep up this strong form with two home games this week.
  • This Week’s Key CogMichael Carter-Williams. This week was a reminder of how truly deep this team is. Carter-Williams is a McDonald’s All-American freshman averaging just 12 minutes per game this season, and he looked like the best player on the floor during his 17 minutes against St. Johns’s. The frosh had 13 points on 5-6 shooting, four rebounds, three assists, and just one turnover in limited playing time.
  • Play of the Week – This was a no-brainer, as our guy Carter-Williams throws down a vicious dunk in transition that was one of the top plays of the week.
  • Talking PointMelo talked about his return to the team after a three-game suspension: “I had fun. It felt good to be back on the court with my teammates. I felt a little rusty and I wanted to do everything at once but Coach told me to slow down and I did.”
  • Coaching Legend Jim Boeheim continues his ascent up the coaching wins list. Saturday’s victory was the coach’s 879th career victory, tying him with Dean Smith for third all-time. The only men ahead of him are Bob Knight and Mike Krzyzewski, with Knight’s 902 victories a very passable number next year.
  • Stats Central – Although Kentucky owns a near unanimous top ranking, the Orange have the far more impressive overall resume. If the season ended today (which, of course, it doesn’t), then Cuse would be the top overall seed of the NCAA Tournament, boasting the #1 RPI ranking and 12 victories over RPI Top 100 teams. Kentucky has seven Top 100 wins, by comparison.
  • What’s Next? – Syracuse has two tough opponents this week, but both games are at home. First comes rival Georgetown on Wednesday (7:00 PM ET, ESPN), followed by struggling Connecticut on Saturday (1:00 PM ET, CBS). The Hoyas look like the second best team in the Big East right now, and the Huskies could be playing for their postseason lives come this weekend. It’s never easy against these talented conference rivals.

UNLV Runnin’ Rebels

  • Trending EVEN Because… – They did lose last week to a team in the mid-70’s of the RPI, but it was a two-point loss in Laramie against tough conference foe Wyoming. The Rebels had several chances to tie or win the game on their final possession of the game, and we can’t knock the team very much for this tight road game. They also easily disposed of Colorado State earlier in the week at home. UNLV (21-4, 5-2 MW) remains in good shape in the Mountain West and has a huge matchup coming up on Saturday.
Share this story

St. John’s Freshmen Making the Most of a Rebuilding Season

Posted by EJacoby on January 17th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is an RTC contributor and correspondent. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter. He filed this report after Georgetown’s win over St. John’s on Sunday.

As a basketball program, St. John’s and its fans have not had a whole lot to smile about this season. Sunday afternoon was no exception, when Georgetown came into Madison Square Garden and handed the Red Storm their fourth loss in five games with a 69-49 victory. But despite the result, freshman forward Maurice Harkless dazzled a packed crowd with 21 points and 10 rebounds in a comeback effort when his team was down, in the process showing why there’s so much promise for the rebuilding Red Storm. Between Harkless and fellow freshman star D’Angelo Harrison, St. John’s has the necessary pieces to turn a losing, learning season into future success.

Times are rough for St. John's, but Harrison and Harkless (above) have what it takes to turn around the program (AP Photo)

St. John’s’ season record reflects all of the turmoil within the program. After Sunday’s loss, the Red Storm dropped to 8-9 overall and 2-4 in Big East play. But there’s much more than just a silver lining to this dark cloud of a season. Five of the Red Storm’s six leading scorers are freshmen, which includes guards Sir’Dominic Pointer and Phil Greene in addition to the versatile trio of Harkless, Harrison, and Amir Garrett. By nearly all metrics, Harkless is the best freshman in the Big East and might be one of the most talented players in the whole conference. His totals against Georgetown upped his season averages to 15.8 PPG, 8.4 RPG, and 1.8 BPG, all team highs. He’s top five in the conference in the latter two statistics and possesses the dynamic offensive game of a future NBA small forward. Harrison has been nearly as productive, averaging 15 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 1.9 APG, and 1.6 SPG, and he’s had the ball in his hands most often this season when St. John’s needs a big play or shot to be made. Pointer has the look of a potential ‘glue guy,’ and he already contributes across the board on a nightly basis with about seven points, five boards, and over a block and steal per game.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story