Texas, Arizona, and Kentucky announce preseason schedules

With this being the sleepy time period in college basketball (even with some rumors going around involving Iowa State’s Fred Hoiberg), three schools with instant pedigree have announced their preseason non-conference schedules for the first part of the 2015-2016 season.

As mentioned in an earlier blog, new Texas head coach Shaka Smart will take his Longhorns to China to play Washington.

That game will tip off at 10 p.m. Eastern time on November 14 (11 a.m. local time in China the next day).  Only time will tell if that only true road game will be enough to merit an at-large bid next March.  The Atlantis tournament might be worth checking out with your turkey leftovers on NBCSN during the Thanksgiving holiday break.

The rest of the games include North Carolina, Pac 12 ready Stanford, along with Vanderbilt and UConn looking to improve after some mediocre play plagued parts of their 2015 run which ended up being short of ending up in the Big Dance:

TEXAS NON-CONFERENCE SCHEDULE, all tip times TBD

Nov. 14: vs. Washington (Shanghai, China)
Nov. 21: vs. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi
Nov. 25-27: Battle 4 Atlantis tournament (Charlotte, Connecticut, Gonzaga, Michigan, Syracuse, Texas A&M, Washington)
Dec. 1: vs. UT Arlington
Dec. 4: vs. Samford
Dec. 8: vs. UTSA (Texas San Antonio)
Dec. 12: vs. North Carolina
Dec. 15: vs. Appalachian State
Dec. 19: at Stanford
Dec. 29: vs. UConn
Jan. 30: vs. Vanderbilt

Arizona may be taking a small step back after reaching the Elite Eight each of the last two seasons.  I expect them to be still a major player in the Pac 12, even with five games will pit the Wildcats against teams that did play in the 2015 NCAA Tournament.

Expect Sean Miller’s bunch to pile a bunch of home wins inside the McKale Center leading up to the week before Christmas.  However, their trip to Gonzaga at The Kennel is going to be a bear:

ARIZONA WILDCATS NON-CONFERENCE SCHEDULE:

Nov. 13: vs. Pacific
Nov. 16: vs. Bradley
Nov. 19: vs. Boise State
Nov. 22: vs. Northwestern State
Nov. 26-29: DirecTV Wooden Legacy tournament (Michigan State, Providence, Boston College, UC Irvine will be some of the teams involved)
Dec. 05: at Gonzaga
Dec. 09: vs. Fresno State
Dec. 13: vs. Missouri
Dec. 16: vs. Northern Arizona
Dec. 19: vs. UNLV
Dec. 22: vs. Long Beach State

For Kentucky coach John Calipari ever the realist, he does not dwell on the past.  Rather than win national titles, he cherishes the fact that 26 of his Kentucky players were drafted in the NBA since he became coach as his recent speech to business executives from Alltell who recently held their annual shareholder meeting inside Rupp Arena.  If you get some time, please listen to Coach Calipari speak the honest truth on what gives him the most joy being a major college coach (the entire clip runs about 35 minutes):

http://www.cbssports.com/collegebasketball/eye-on-college-basketball/25191768/audio-calipari-says-uks-goal-was-to-get-players-drafted-not-win-title

Next season’s schedule should prove in most media and blog circles that UK will have the most difficult slate of games before the Christmas holiday and SEC play begins in earnest around the New Year’s holiday.

Some of the teams that Kentucky will play have never met before (thanks to CBSSports.com and the Kentucky Athletics website for the key information).

Just fyi–the game with Duke will be the last game of ESPN’s annual Tip-Off Marathon and their participation in the CBS Sports Classic will take place in Brooklyn.  Other key games include road stops at UCLA and Kansas, plus they will host their intrastate battle with Louisville the day after Christmas.

KENTUCKY WILDCATS NON-CONFERENCE SCHEDULE:

Opponent 2014-15 record Date Final RPI KenPom.com final ranking Series history Last meeting
vs. Albany 24-9 Nov. 13 104 128 First meeting Never met
vs. NJIT 21-12 Nov. 14 134 166 Never met First meeting
vs. Duke 35-4 Nov. 17 1 4 UK leads 11-9 UK lost 75-68 on Nov. 13, 2012
vs. Wright State 11-20 Nov. 20 266 250 UK leads 3-0 UK won 97-75 on Nov. 23, 1998
vs. Boston Univ. 13-17 Nov. 24 200 242 UK leads 4-0 UK won 89-65 on Nov. 21, 2014
@ South Florida 9-23 Nov. 27 277 295 First meeting Never met
vs. Illinois State 22-13 Nov. 30 53 52 First meeting Never met
@ UCLA 22-14 Dec. 3 39 33 UK leads 7-4 UK won 83-44 on Dec. 20, 2014
vs. Eastern Kentucky 21-12 Dec. 9 142 116 UK leads 11-0 UK won 82-49 on Dec. 7, 2014
vs. Arizona State 18-16 Dec. 12 90 63 UK leads 3-0 UK won 82-65 on Nov. 25, 2002
vs. Ohio State 24-11 Dec. 19 38 21 UK leads11-8 UK won 62-60 on March 25, 2011
vs. Louisville 27-9 Dec. 26 19 16 UK leads 33-15 UK won 58-50 on Dec. 27, 2014
@ Kansas 27-9 Jan. 30 5 14 UK leads 22-6 UK won 72-40 on Nov. 18, 2014
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With the retirement of David Letterman as “King of Late Night” television…

…I wonder how CBS and Turner are going to approach Stephen Colbert’s show during future NCAA Tournaments.

Clearly, it is a different era after 6,032 shows (four in prime-time) and 5,614 “Top Ten” lists.
If I was start a list on things that I hope the powers of college basketball could fix, I would probably come off as a laughingstock, a hound for all things for key information and insight you can’t find anywhere else–in print or in this virtual blogosphere.

The midnight or so airings during the first two rounds and the Sweet 16 rounds will still be happening on CBS, but it will not carry the same pizzazz as it did for a quarter of a century.  Yes, one of Ball State’s most famous alums and the one-time WISH TV Indianapolis weatherman definitely created quite a legacy for present and future late night kings (and queens) to follow for decades to come.

Dave, here’s wishing many fans will get the chance to see you at the IndyCar race tracks.  You deserve to have some fun!   Happy retirement.

Proposed rule change could lower shot clock from 35 down to 30 seconds

Again, note the first word in my headline:

PROPOSED

The NCAA still has to OK this move, but with Belmont Head Coach Rick Byrd leading the charge these last three days in Indianapolis, great news could potentially be coming for college hoops fans everywhere.

This would mark the first major change to the shot clock since Chris Webber and the Fab Five were mostly in their junior year at Michigan during the 1992-93 season.  At that time, the shot clock was dramatically altered from the boring 45 second frame to the semi-exciting 35 seconds.

Speeding up the pace of play should make the games way more exciting.  And if this rule change is approved by the NCAA sometime in June, the games in November and December along with every conference and NCAA Tournament game in March will be deemed as “Must See TV”.

Some other possible rule changes to look out for include:

  • Decreasing the number of coaches time outs per game from 5 to 4
  • Not expanding the restricted-area arc (aka the “Jordan Circle”) from three feet to four feet

Those rule proposals, along with some possible key changes affecting the defensive structure on personal/flagrant fouls will be briefly checked on as well.  I hope to provide an update when the rule changes become official.

Maryland-North Carolina headline Big Ten-ACC Challenge slate

Wednesday saw the release by ESPN of the Big Ten-ACC Challenge, scheduled for the week after Thanksgiving.

The ACC leads the all-time series, 10-4-2.

—– Monday, Nov. 30 —–

  • Clemson at Minnesota
  • Wake Forest at Rutgers

—– Tuesday, Dec. 1 —–

  • Maryland at North Carolina
  • Virginia at Ohio State
  • Michigan at North Carolina State
  • Purdue at Pittsburgh
  • Northwestern at Virginia Tech
  • Miami at Nebraska

—– Wednesday, Dec. 2 —–

  • Indiana at Duke
  • Louisville at Michigan State
  • Wisconsin at Syracuse
  • Notre Dame at Illinois
  • Florida State at Iowa
  • Penn State at Boston College

The game in Chapel Hill may feature the top 2 teams in the country going at each other–and just two years after Maryland left the ACC for the Big Ten.

Indiana at Duke could be another interesting contest, depending on what type of team Tom Crean fields with the Hoosiers.

Matchups that might be interesting to check out include Michigan at North Carolina State and Purdue at Pittsburgh.

The major fact about Notre Dame visiting Illinois is that the State Farm Assembly Hall in Champaign is under construction for their new look arena to open in time for that night.  The Fighting Illini will play their first five home games in Springfield.

Finally, Louisville and Michigan State will be a rematch from last season’s Elite Eight won by the Spartans in overtime at Syracuse.

Longtime North Carolina assistant, successor to Dean Smith–Bill Guthridge passes away

After spending 30 years as Dean Smith’s right hand man with North Carolina, Bill Guthridge was the logical choice when Smith retired following the 1997 NCAA Tournament.  Tuesday night, Tar Heel Nation is grieving again for the second time in three months after Dean Smith’s successor is dead at the age of 77.

“Coach Gut”, as he was known to players like 1998 National Player of the Year Antawn Jamison, his Tar Heels teams reached the Final Four again in 1998 and 2000.  His coaching record was a remarkable 80-28.

“I think the book on loyalty and friendship was written by Coach Guthridge.”

North Carolina legend Phil Ford at a press conference Wednesday morning in the Dean Smith Center

Under the Dean Smith regime, Guthridge mainly dealt with the centers–from the likes of Mitch Kupchak, Brad Daugherty, J.R. Reid, and Eric Montross.

By the team Smith retired, his teams were heavy on guard play–and boy, did they keep the mantel high.

Take a look at this clip from 1998, (dug up from the old Raycom cable days, where Billy Packer was doing games whenever he wasn’t doing any weekend games for CBS).  This game featured North Carolina and Duke as the two top ranked teams in the country:

With the likes of Vince Carter and Donald Williams running the show, there certainly was lots of running and gunning.  That certainly was a night never to be forgotten when North Carolina took over top dog status from their in-state rivals–at least until they arrived at that April’s Final Four in San Antonio.

May Coach Guthridge RIP.

Northern Kentucky reported to join the Horizon League

Atlantic Sun will have only seven members schools for 2016 conference season

Multiple TV and newspaper reports out of Cincinnati on Monday have NKU joining the Horizon League, taking over the spot vacated three seasons ago by Butler when they moved to the revised Big East.  They will join the likes of Valparaiso, Wright State, Cleveland State, Illinois-Chicago, and Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

When approved, the Norse will become fully eligible for NCAA Tournament play in the 2016-2017 season.  They will do so with a new coach, as longtime head boss Dave Bezold was fired after 11 years following a rather meager 13-17 mark, but held their own at 7-7 in A-Sun conference play.

John Brannen, a long-time assistant under Anthony Grant at Alabama and VCU will get his first ever coaching job–mostly with a new cast.  A pair of outgoing seniors in Chad and Jordan Jackson have graduated, and freshman Tayler Persons (last season’s Atlantic Sun Freshman of the Year) will take his 13 ppg average somewhere else, since he has decided to transfer.

This leaves the NCAA with quite a difficult problem, since by-laws state clearly that a minimum of seven schools are allowed to be eligible for automatic bids for the NCAA Tournament–both for basketball covering the men’s and women’s genders (six school minimum for other sports like volleyball, soccer, and field hockey).

As it stands currently, the Atlantic Sun has these schools as members:

Florida Gulf Coast, Jacksonville, Kennesaw State, Lipscomb, North Florida, USC Upstate, and Stetson.

The conference is hoping to add new members soon.  I will try my best to keep you as fans updated when and how that conference hopes to continue their streak of sending teams to the Big Dance, which stands at 35 straight years dating back to 1981.  The A-Sun was founded in 1978.

Rasheed Sulaimon transfers to Maryland

Troubled Duke guard Rasheed Sulaimon has found a new place to play–the Maryland Terrapins of the Big Ten.

If you recall earlier this year, he was dismissed from the Duke program because of a pair of allegations that he committed sexual assault against two separate women on Duke’s campus.  According to reports by ESPN and CBSSports.com on Monday, both ladies were not going to press charges against him.

Sulaimon is expected to graduate from Duke in August and therefore will be eligible to play immediately as a transfer student.

Expect Maryland to challenge the likes of Duke and North Carolina for college basketball supremacy a little over 10 months from now.

Another team benefiting from graduate transfer eligibility is Purdue.

Johnny Hill is leaving Texas-Arlington to become the Boilermakers new point guard.  The 6’3″ swingman averaged 9.6 points and 3.4 assists per game last season.