John Beilein Stays With Michigan, Mike Davis Heads To Detroit

In a week where construction of newer practice facilities are cropping up from Northwestern to Notre Dame and Illinois, at least one major power in the Midwest is thrilled that the only changes will come from who is riding the bench.

After having some serious discussions with the Detroit Pistons regarding their coaching vacancy earlier in the week, Michigan Head Coach John Beilien smartly tweeted that he will be returning to coach the Wolverines.

Not only is this a smart move for the 65 year old who is one of the honest guys in the sport–it is so refreshing to not having to hear the typical coachspeak many of the recent hires have been dominating throughout college basketball.  Had he gone to the NBA, it would have consumed his life 24/7/365.

Coach Beilien is one of the honest guys who does not shy away from key questions.  We all saw it fully at play during the Big Ten Tournament and again throughout the NCAA Tournament.  And his announcement is also great for the school as well, even though they are losing four key players from their national runner-up team–namely Morris Wagner and Mouhamad Abdur-Rahkman.

In the larger scheme of things, Michigan has mostly put their Fab Five era clearly behind them after their pair of Final Four banners from 1992 and 1993 were taken down to having the services of an illegal booster.

He gets it, albeit Jim Harbaugh more than rules the roost on the football end of things as the true face of the school.  At least, Michigan going forward is in very good hands and that can mean at least one constant the Big Ten sorely needs–stability.

Former Indiana coach Mike Davis leaves Texas Southern for Detroit

The Horizon League has all of a sudden gotten smarter, as Mike Davis recently signed a contract to leave Texas Southern and take his talents to a similar mid-major program in Detroit (the former Detroit Mercy).

Many longtime basketball fans remember Davis as the heir apparent to Bobby Knight, when he took Indiana as a 5 seed all the way to the 2002 national championship game before running into Juan Dixon and future Big Ten foe Maryland at the old Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

A few more NCAA appearances later in the decade at UAB led Davis to the Texas Southern job.  More than likely, as both Matt Norlander mentioned on this morning’s (Friday) Eye on College Basketball podcast–this will probably be his last coaching stop.

Coming up on the college basketball docket for July, the annual evaluation period and more announcements concerning all 350 plus Division I schools for the non-conference portion of the schedule.  With Conference USA announcing on Thursday that they have joined 13 other mid-major conferences in moving their games mostly off the free ESPN3 cable authentication tier and onto the pay service of ESPN+ (costing users $5 a month, even if you don’t have a traditional cable subscription)–it gives fans more reason to tune in not only during the regular season, but also the early rounds of some conference tournaments.

Obviously, we will know a lot more in the weeks and months ahead.  In the meantime, just keep checking your favorite websites and apps and we will see what news might become blog worthy in the future.

Please try to have a great weekend, and thank you so much for reading and following.

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Allie LaForce Steps Down From CBS Sports, Jamie Erdhal Takes Over

LaForce leaves after six years on the SEC football and NCAA Tournament beats

Somewhat shocking news, at least in the mind of this blog reporter hit the major sports media sites on Monday afternoon.

CBS Sports moves Jamie Erdhal (but goes by her married name of Buckman on her Twitter account) off the NFL beat when she was hired in 2014 to the lead sideline reporter role on SEC college football and NCAA basketball for the 2018-2019 season.

According to Richard Deitsch of The Athletic site, LaForce and CBS failed to reach terms on a new contract agreement.  She leaves after nearly six years, but I am sure she will be quick to find new employment soon.

At the very least, considering how in this very dire economy how one person’s position can easily be replaced…better keep watching those Twitter trolls just in case.  And yes, very few people saw this news coming.

The only obvious thing to close this particular blog is to simply say that both ladies should continue to do great things, both on and off air and just wish them nothing but the best going forward.

Two Coaches In Power 5 Conferences Staying Put

Most Major Wrongdoing Cleared From FBI Probe and Title IX Statutes

Fans of Auburn and Georgia Tech were definitely breathing major sighs of relief on Monday.

According to a ESPN.com report, Auburn Head Coach Bruce Pearl signed a six year contract extension until the 2022-2023 season.  Auburn as a school, is still cited in the probe led by the FBI in September 2017 hoping to expose the underbelly of shady economics affecting college basketball as a whole.

Meanwhile, Josh Pastner of Georgia Tech was cleared of any wrongdoing following a lengthy Title IX discussion stemming from previous sexual harassment allegations.  This is very welcome news for a school looking for nothing but hopefully major stability going forward (and it is for all sports, not just the revenue sports of football and men’s basketball).

Quite a List of Players Returning To School

Deadline To Stay in NBA Draft Ended on Wednesday Afternoon

Combing through an NBA Draft themed article on The Athletic site, this list of players have decided to return to school for at least another year.

Only a small handful of these names, you can instantly say that a small handful of schools might be considered either as a “possible Sweet 16 contender” or “darkhouse Final Four contender”.

As we sit here at this time in early June, it is still way too early to peg where teams could be slotted as far as conference races are concerned.  I hope to have a better answer, sometime around late October once the Season Preview hits your inboxes and/or smartphones.

  • Cody and Caleb Martin, plus Jordan Caroline, Nevada

Wolfpack should be title contenders in 2019.

  • Jalen McDaniels, San Diego State
  • Ethan Happ, Wisconsin

Badgers possibly another year away from contending in rough Big Ten race

  • Tyus Battle, Syracuse

Sure, he puts up 19 points per game on average.  However, he does not have much in terms of an all-around game, only averaging three assists per game last season.  Another make-or-break year from the Orange, where he will be one of the focal points on the offensive end of the floor.

  • Shamorie Ponds, St. John’s

One of the nation’s all-around scorers, last January onward in Big East play had games of 37, 33, 31, 33 again (in a win over Duke), and 44 points.  His averages last season were a rather respectable 21.6 points, five rebounds and 4.7 assists per game and should only get better.

  • Shelton Mitchell and Marcquise Reed, Clemson
  • Lindell Wigginton, Iowa State

Canadian native averaged 16.7 ppg while shooting over 40 percent of his attempts from three point land.

  • Robert Franks, Washington State
  • Ky Bowman, Boston College
  • Jaylen Hands and Kris Wilkes, UCLA
  • Jontay Porter, Missouri

Brother of Michael Porter, Jr. will get another to improve his all-around game.

  • Udoka Azubuike, Kansas

Classic case of player who could have been drafted a decade or so ago, with the classic back-to-the-basket game.  But since he does not have much of a game outside of seven feet and is a poor free throw shooter ala Shaquille O’Neal when he was at LSU over a quarter century ago…KU reloads for another Big 12 title run.

  • P.J. Washington, Kentucky

Dynamite scorer who can do many things with the ball in his hands, can he improve on his defense if John Calipari won’t have more sleepless nights come fall?

  • Charles Matthews, Michigan

With most of Big Blue’s cogs from last season’s runner up finish moving on, he will become the focal point of Jon Beilein’s crisp running offense.  He would have been drafted had his shooting percentages improved during the NCAA Tournament.  At least, he will get another season to improve.

  • Reid Travis, uncommitted

Kentucky, Villanova, and Duke could be in the mix for the 6’8″ graduate transfer who spent the last four years playing at Stanford and could be an impact player right away.

  • Admiral Schofield, Tennessee
  • Tremont Waters, LSU
  • Nick Ward, Michigan State
  • Juwan Morgan, Indiana

The Hoosiers, like the Wisconsin Badgers are teams in transition.  Middle of the pack finish in the Big Ten and NIT berth is probably where they will end up come next March.

  • Jalen Hudson, Florida
  • Austin Wiley, Jared Harper and Bryce Brown, Auburn

Great news for Bruce Pearl, as the Tigers should be in the mix in a retooled SEC.

  • Mustapha Heron, uncommitted

After averaging over 16 ppg for Auburn, he will be transferring someplace in the Northeast part of the country to live closer to his ailing mother.

  • Bruno Fernando, Maryland
  • Sagaba Konate, West Virginia
  • Isaac Copeland and James Palmer, Nebraska
  • Zach Johnson and Dewan Huell, Miami (Florida)
  • Jessie Govan, Georgetown
  • Chris Silva, South Carolina
  • Markis McDuffie, Wichita State

Coming off an injury plagued year, McDuffie will be counted on as the senior leader in a group filled with mostly young players.  Middle of the pack AAC finish is most likely, with possible NCAA at-large berth hanging in the balance for 2019.

  • Torin Dorn, North Carolina State
  • Terence Davis, Ole Miss
  • C.J. Burks and Jon Elmore, Marshall

Final comment is that if Ajdin Penava decided not to turn pro, the Thundering Herd would be a lock on a 2019 NCAA Tournament berth.  As it is, they will be in the conversation once the season starts next fall.

 

The ACC Coaches Want The NCAA Tournament To Expand To 72 Teams–I Am Not Buying Into It

Consensus reached during annual Conference spring meeting

When Hall of Fame coaches discuss the inner goings on in men’s college basketball, how would you like to be a fly on the wall when a Mike Kryzyzewski mixes things up with a Roy Williams, or a Jim Boeheim sharing some anecdotes alongside Mike Brey?  I bet there would be some interesting conversations, to say the least.

One of the points from their spring meeting earlier this week brought up the fact that the lane should be widened to the lane commonly used in the NBA.  I agree with them on this particular point, simply because play inside the paint is both ugly and bothersome to watch on any given night.  When the referees try to call a charge, is the defender inside the circle and did they get their feet properly set in time?  I can recall on one hand how many games were decided because of one blown call, only for the referees to later admit in postgame press conferences that they were wrong after the fact.

However, one major point that I vehemently disagree on is them trying to lobby the NCAA to expand the Tournament again–this time from the current 68 schools to a mind blogging 72 teams.

CBS Sports reporters/podcast hosts Matt Norlander and Garry Parrish went into a over 20 minute long discussion about the positive and mostly negative points regarding the addition of four extra Opening Round games.

The only positive thing could be for the head coaches and the schools themselves receiving a decent share of the NCAA Tournament pool of money for each Tournament win.  You would also have a second venue of games to be played around the similar timeframe that we have seen on TruTV since 2011 from Dayton, Ohio.  We may not be too far away from possibly having TBS (or dare I say CBS) bring you two games on the first Tuesday and Wednesday from say, the really nice arena on the campus of South Dakota State or Taco Bell Arena in Boise, Idaho–or if the NCAA relaxes some of their championship hosting criteria thanks to the Supreme Court ruling on May 14, maybe just maybe Orleans Arena in Las Vegas could be a host site.

With Expansion Comes Many Pitfalls, The Biggest Of Which Is Quality of Play

We have seen this before in years past in the pro sports, namely in baseball with the 1962 New York Mets, 1977 Seattle Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays, and 1993 in the Mile High City with the Colorado Rockies.  The NBA had Johnny “Red” Kerr lead the Chicago Bulls to the playoffs following their first season playing at the old International Amphitheatre in 1966-1967.  In the NFL, the best example had the Miami Dolphins go from cellar dwellers in 1966 to playing in three straight Super Bowls, winning back to back in 1973 and again in 1974.

NHL hockey has been the exception rather than the norm, especially with the Las Vegas Golden Knights reaching the Stanley Cup Finals exactly 50 years when the first major expansion from the Golden Six era saw the St. Louis Blues reach the 1968 Stanley Cup Finals.

My point being is that if the NCAA at some point might be thinking of expanding the tournament, it is going to be so watered down in terms of quality of play that those games may not be worth plucking out a few bucks on your favorite gambling website.

There were two reasons why the Tournament expanded from their popular 64 team model in 2001 and the current expansion to 68 a decade later in 2011.

The 65th team was added due to the creation of the Mountain West Conference in the simple fact that they have a conference postseason tournament.

The other three schools were added basically from the official NCAA seed list.  Thankfully, they revised the rules which state that the last eight schools listed get to automatically play at Dayton–four conference champions with the worst records, namely from the SWAC and Sun Belt Conferences, and the four marginal at-large teams from Power 5 Conferences.

If four more schools are added, fans will more than likely see the second place team from the Missouri Valley or the seventh best team from the Big Ten, or the ninth best team from the ACC get an invite.  Those schools typically have barely over .500 records overall, a good but not great record during conference play like 10-8 or 9-9, but fail to get past the second round in their own conference tournaments.  The RPI’s usually end up being between 70 and 95, give or take a few slots.

Bottom line, those teams should go to the NIT, CIT, CBI, or whatever named tournament is out there for marginal teams that are 100 and below in the NCAA’s general pecking order.

I have heard countless stories from many coaches that had to play the Opening Round games in Dayton.  They came away unimpressed by the facilities and the lack of restaurant options within walking distance of Dayton Arena.  And I agree on one simple fact, trying to watch the so-called First Four games on TruTV–normally a channel reserved for idiotic, crass, and simply stupid reality TV shows–it is not what the NCAA Tournament is about.

Sure, President Barack Obama tried to teach then British Prime Minister David Cameron about the inner workings of the sport a few years ago.  In the end, just look at the ratings.  They are nowhere near what CBS, TBS, and TNT have done since the four network region setup replaced the CBS regional model in 2011.

Although the one positive thing that the NCAA can bank on is that every year that they have played four games in Dayton, one of the First Four winners has had at least one extra Tournament win–with VCU proving everybody wrong in 2011 using their First Four appearance leading to a surprise Final Four berth before finally losing to Butler in Houston.

Bottom line, the television contracts are in the billions of dollars.  With money changing hands faster than ever, I would not be at all surprised if the tournament expanded sometime during the next decade.  The current deal with CBS, TBS, TNT, and TruTV to cover the Big Dance continues until the year 2032.

In my true heart of hearts after hearing that particular podcast, I am fine with the tournament the way it is.  Sadly, the NCAA will not be going back to the 64 team model that gave the sports its’ greatest personality and many fun times during the exclusive CBS era.  The only reason I could see if expansion could work is that the schools want that chance to earn extra money–money that could be used to improve facilities on campus and/or help with certain professor/staff salaries.

Hopefully, the NCAA will think twice about this before committing to it.

And as Golden State Warriors Head Coach Steve Kerr said while as a player during the 1997 NBA Champion Chicago Bulls pep rally in Grant Park,

“That is my story, and I am sticking to it.”

You can find the podcast on Apple, iTunes, and Google Play, just search for CBS Sports Eye On College Basketball.

Kansas To Play At Kentucky During Big 12/SEC Challenge

Normally, these two bluebloods kick off the season in November

ESPN reported on their website on Thursday that the Jayhawks will travel to Rupp Arena in Lexington for only the third time since 2005.

The game will take place on Saturday evening, January 26, 2019.

Other games this time around will include these first-time Challenge matchups:

  • Alabama at Baylor
  • Iowa State at Ole Miss
  • Kansas State at Texas A&M
  • Vanderbilt at Oklahoma
  • West Virginia at Tennessee

Exact times and ESPN networks will be determined by late October.

The Big 12 has won three of the five annual single day showcases, with the SEC winning one and one year where both conferences finished tied.