Duke Canada Tour Features 3 Game Exhibition

All three games in August will be streamed via the pay ESPN+ outlet

According to a press release from ESPN on Thursday (July 19), the Duke Blue Devils will be playing two exhibition games in Toronto and one game in Montreal.

Here is the complete schedule, with all three games also being televised via regular cable for Canadian viewers via sister network TSN.  Toronto native Dan Shulman will join his regular Saturday Primetime partner Jay Bilas on the call for the American streaming audience:

Date Time (Eastern) Opponent Network
Wed, Aug 15 7 p.m. vs. Ryerson (Paramount Fine Foods Centre, Toronto) ESPN+/TSN4
Fri, Aug 17 6 p.m. vs. University of Toronto (Paramount Fine Foods Centre, Toronto) ESPN+/TSN2
Sun, Aug 19 3 p.m. vs. McGill (Place Bell, Montreal, Québec) ESPN+/TSN1/TSN4/TSN5/RDS2

All games are available via the ESPN app and TSN Go app

There will also be an eight episode streaming series titled, Earn Everything as fans will get behind the scenes with Duke preparing for the annual Champions Classic clash against Kentucky come early November.

The series will show the players meeting for the first time on campus, and seeing the coaching staff mold these student-athletes into possible future Duke legends.

If that series isn’t enough for fans to pony up $4.95 per month, then I don’t what will.

Las Vegas Invitational Features Stacked Lineup

This is usually around the time of year when various cities announce in-season tournaments that will be taking place throughout November and December.

Las Vegas will have these schools participating:

North Carolina, UCLA, Michigan State, and Texas.

Match-ups and television/streaming information will be released at a later date.


NCAA Chooses Final Four Sites For 2023 Through 2026

Each Final Four will alternate television coverage between CBS and TBS

On Monday, the NCAA voted during their annual summer meeting in Boston to have these cities again host the Final Four in the following years:

  • 2023, Houston.  NRG Stadium will host for the third time since 2011, and it will be the fifth time that Texas city will play host (the other was 1971 at the old Astrodome in the middle of the UCLA dynasty).  CBS
  • 2024, Phoenix/Glendale, Arizona.  The University of Phoenix Stadium will be back again, after North Carolina outlasted Gonzaga in 2017.  TBS, with complete Bleacher Stream coverage on TNT and TruTV (or whatever channel names will be designated at that time).
  • 2025, San Antonio.  The proud Alamodome has been a popular site, complete with the Riverwalk and Alamo Museum nearby.  Coming off their fifth hosting of the NCAA’s crowning jewel event this past spring, it also hosted the Final Four in 1998, 2004, and 2008.  They will also host the 2022 South Regional.  When CBS televises that year, San Antonio will join Kansas City, Indianapolis, Louisville, New York City, New Orleans, and Seattle to have hosted it five times.
  • 2026, Indianapolis.  Lucas Oil Stadium will also play host again in 2021, since they are on the five-year rotation as the NCAA Headquarters host city.  What began at the old Market Square Arena in 1980 led a few blocks west to the old Hoosier/RCA Dome for memorable Final Fours contested in 1991, 1997, 2000, and 2006.  Lucas Oil Stadium also hosted the finals in 2010 and 2015.  The Circle City has also hosted various rounds of the Tournament dating back to 1940.  Indianapolis will also play host to the 2020 Midwest Regional.  Only the old NCAA Headquarters site of Kansas City has played to more marquee games, which hosted a record ten Final Fours between the years 1940 to 1988.  TBS

Cities that lost out in the bidding process according to the NCAA’s press release were Los Angeles (the yet unfinished Inglewood Stadium to host the Rams and Chargers beginning with the 2020 NFL season), Detroit, and North Texas/Arlington.

To refresh your memory, here are the next three years:

2019, US Bank Stadium, Minneapolis CBS

2020, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta TBS with complete Bleacher Stream coverage

2021, Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis CBS

2022, Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans TBS with complete Bleacher Stream coverage

In separate news last Friday (July 13)…

Kevin White, Vice President and Director of Athletics at Duke will be the 2019-2020 chairperson of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee.  White will be Vice Chair this coming year when the lead chair will be held by Bernard Muir, currently the Director of Athletics for Stanford University.

Conference USA Revises Conference Schedule, More Schools Could Follow Suit

Radical end of season slate will see last four games resemble mini-tournaments

I have a small question:

Why do most of the Power 5 Conferences end up earning the higher seeds each March?
Simple, those universities have four times the money than the mid-majors (outside of Gonzaga).

After glancing over a pair of articles by Nick Martin from the Deadspin website, I am hoping deep down this subject this will eventually catch on across the country.

In fact, Conference USA will be taking the first bold steps.

Instead of having a hard 18 game conference schedule each January and February which feeds into their annual conference tournament, the first 14 such games will determine the seeding of those 8 teams (1 vs. 8, 4 vs. 5, 3 vs. 6, and 2 vs.7 for those of you scoring at home).

The thinking behind this, according to most of the coaches in the C-USA is they wish to have more “units” (or blocks of money) to help out with helping their school in whatever areas they need the most help with (upkeep of facilities, extra scholarship funds, etc.).

The difference behind this different scheduling procedure, you may ask?
We could be seeing possibly those schools bumping upwards in the RPI and earning extra victories in the “Quadrant 1 or 2” column that could peg them possibly being slotted as either a 11 or 12 seed, instead of the usual 14 or 15 seeds they have been stuck in mostly since the 1990’s.

Sounds radical to me on the surface, but hopefully this will create a ripple effect so other conferences could join down the road.  The Sun Belt for one, nixed the idea and is not interested at this time.  Figure also possibly the same for the SWAC and other smaller conferences, but places like St. Louis could be slow in embracing this concept because Arch Madness has proven to be so successful for CBS and CBS Sports Network, who are both in the middle of a 10 year deal broadcasting the final two days of one of the early conference tournaments during the first weekend in March.

To read both articles, please tap or click your browsers to the links below:







Coaches Spending Time at Peach Jam Could Be Ending?

Reading through some tweets by Seth Davis from The Athletic showed that a new era might be coming, in regards to how coaches recruit players.

Give it a read if you get some time.

As far as general recruiting news, it was mostly mum’s the word–although Wisconsin fans should be thrilled that guard Ethan Happ will be returning for his senior season.  If he turns out to be the second coming of Sam Dekker, a possible Sweet 16 berth could be in the mix for the fine, friendly folks in Madison.

In the meantime, Deadspin had a pair of really awesome articles by Nick Martin, one from May 29 and this past Wednesday (July 11) concerning the radical changes taking place starting with the 2019 Conference USA Tournament.

Those links will appear in my blog above.  Thanks again for reading.

Huge Recruiting Season Kicks Off

Crucial Time on the College Basketball Calendar Outside of First Practices in October

For three weeks during a five day period spanning from Wednesday, July 11 through Sunday, July 15 and repeating over the next two weeks (five days stretches each), the three major shoe companies will be sponsoring these sometimes AAU sanctioned events geared at today’s high school crop in hoping to latch on to a place the kids can enroll by August in landing a college of their choosing.

Coaches need to shore up their rosters, and us as fans are hungry for information on what all 351 NCAA Division I schools plus also in Divisions II and III will look like when we turn the corner towards the end of autumn in gearing up for a new season come early November.

Too bad we cannot be flies on the wall at these events, but I am sure there will be plenty of movement going on amidst what will be a very fluid time for the sport:

On Monday morning, Seth Davis sent to email subscribers to The Athletic website some brief details on what usually takes place (and has mostly been like this since the early 1980’s when Sonny Vaccaro ran the Nike camps and gave Michael Jordan his first sneaker deal with the University of North Carolina).

As per NCAA rules, scores of coaches can watch as many high school players  compete, but they cannot speak with them face-to-face.  At least, the coaches can send text messages and speak on the phone with any player who will be entering their senior year of high school.

This is grassroots basketball at its’ finest, as Nike will hold the EYBL Peach Jam in Augusta, Ga. while there will be an Under Armour Challenge in Atlanta and finally Adidas will stage their Gauntlet Finale in New York City.

Next week, there will be even more events spread throughout the nation.  Finally, on July 25–everyone will be stationed in Las Vegas (thankfully inside 60 degree air conditioned gyms while everyone else will be baking outside in nearly 110 degree heat).

Although the Amateur Athletic Association sometimes gets a bad rap by some members of the media, they will only have a hand in some of the events.

As the players get to travel and bond with teammates and find mentors, they will be competing against very stiff competition.  Even though for the most part, parents of the players wish they would be staying close to home helping out fill their summer idle time by mowing the lawn, washing their cars, and doing other ancillary tasks–the whole point of the summer recruiting circuit (along with other recruiting periods in college hoops) helps gives coaches, their assistants, reporters and everyone else in the sport a chance to be together in a low-maintenance setting.  Seeing the likes of Roy Williams shooting the breeze with a Mike Brey, John Calipari, or Tom Izzo, while Mike Kryzezewski might mix things a bit with new Georgia Head Coach Tom Crean or Auburn’s Bruce Pearl, just to name a few.

Bottom line, the coaches are mostly looking for the new “diamonds in the rough.”

And The Freshmen Shall Lead Them

Unlike the mostly bitter recruiting moments involving college football, it is always interesting to see what goes in the minds of the coaches in trying to land their next big star on campus.  They will be wearing polos bearing their school logos, in a more relaxed and casual dress code unlike when everybody tries to dress like Frank Sinatra from the Rat Pack heyday during the regular season and NCAA Tournament the following March.

Each coach has a specific plan on what type of player (forward, center, or guard) they are looking for to complete their rosters for the upcoming season.

It may sound coy, but it is true–the really good players mostly end up enrolling in the Power 5 Conferences and hopefully get that proverbial boost their school would need to earn potentially a top 6 seed come Selection Sunday.

With the Rice Commission Report looming, Change is Coming

The general structure of recruiting will be totally different by July 2019.  At the very least, if you plan to follow the key moves via Twitter and other blogs here on WordPress, keep this basic dynamic in mind:

Coaches will need players, players are desperately looking for scholarships and the fans deserve the right to know what is happening with the sport in general and what direction that compass might be pointing before Halloween takes over.

As Seth Davis bluntly put it,

“Recruiting is the lifeblood of any program”

I hope to spend a few Mondays the remainder of July chronicling any tangible moves which take place, rather than documenting the general movements every waking hour.

I will try my best to keep those types of blogs clear and concise, with very little fluff.

And for those of you attempting to soak up some rays, please don’t forget your sunscreen (Coppertone Sport is my pick every time) when you attempt to read my blogs and keeping your smartphone batteries from losing their juice.

Remember, comments are always welcome on this or any of my past and future blogs.

Please have yourselves a good night, and hope you all have a very pleasant Wednesday.  I expect there will be tons of movement across the college basketball landscape over the next three weeks plus.

Random News and Notes, Late June Edition

Just thought I would spend a bit of time getting fans up to date on the latest news surrounding college basketball before the heavy July recruiting period and the tidal wave of schedules coming from all 351 Division I schools.

I saw a post on the Awful Announcing site in mid June when they were discussing LeBron James being an executive producer for a documentary that will be airing on HBO sometime in the fall.  The documentary will be featuring four individuals exposing the underbelly of why students are being treated as second and third-class citizens in regards to being compensated when they participate in intercollegiate athletics.

NCAA President Dr. Mark Emmert has been nothing short of coy in regards to answering the media’s constant questions about “pay for play”, and rightfully so.  Many administrators from the Power 5 Conferences, and other mid-majors alike all point to the skyrocketing costs of tuition, room and board (for those students deciding to remain on campus year round as opposed to renting an off-campus apartment), and other various stipends students receive these days.

I recall in the mid 1990’s a college professor (whose exact name escapes me) saying this statement, and I could not agree more on these prophetic words of wisdom:

“Don’t escalate the problem above the solution.”

If the NCAA wants to stay in touch with other Fortune 500 companies, get like minded people in the same room to discuss things that can go well together.  Collaborate on those specific ideas, and reach manageable, concrete goals to make those dreams a reality.

Clearly, I am not the last blogger to cry wolf over the NCAA’s archaic policies.  I have heard the arguments stated by many scores of media members from CBS during the 1980’s and ESPN since the early 1990’s.

Things have to change.  The difficult question is–how can things make sense so that the students will not be walking away empty handed financially speaking by the time they walk across that makeshift stage and shake that school’s President upon receiving their hard earned college diploma.

Super Bowl LII Lead Referee Lands CBS Sports gig

On Tuesday, former NFL and NCAA official Gene Steratore signed a deal with CBS to be their rules analyst.  He will be mainly stationed in New York during the NFL regular season and most of the college basketball season.  According to the press release from CBS Press Express, it said that Steratore will be on site at Ford Field for the Thanksgiving Day classic when the Chicago Bears try to break the longest holiday losing streak to the Detroit Lions (last won way back in 1980, just look up on YouTube the last two plays of that game from the old Pontiac Silverdome to see how it all turned out for those of you too young to remember).  He will also be joining Jim Nantz and Tony Romo in Atlanta during coverage of Super Bowl LIII on February 3, 2019.

Gene will also be on hand during the 2019 NCAA Tournament, after spending the last 22 seasons primarily as a Big Ten official.  It will be interesting to hear his thoughts on what calls will constitute issuing either a Flagrant 1 or Flagrant 2 foul, plus did the ball leave the guards’ hand before the light surrounding the edges of the backboard lights up as the buzzer sounds to show triple zeroes on the clock.

With Stanford Graduate Transfer Shoring Up Kentucky, A Pair of Tradition Rich Bluebloods Are Getting Younger

It was interesting reading and listening in the last few days.

First up on The Athletic website, Michigan Head Coach John Beilien went from being relieved not to take the Detroit Pistons coaching job, but taking on a new challenge seeing his Wolverines get younger.  Key cogs from the 2018 runner up team are all gone in Moritz Wagner, Muhammad Ali-Abdur Rakhman, and Duncan Robinson.  Five of the new recruits are at least six feet tall, but we will see how quickly they mesh into a unit by the time the Big Ten/ACC Challenge takes place in early December.

Also on Monday, Dan Dakich had on his talk show heard on 1070 AM The Fan in Indianapolis one-time Indiana Hoosiers teammate from the early 1980’s in current UCLA Head Coach Steve Alford.

With the drama of the Ball brothers clearly behind him, Coach Alford discussed glowingly about the Holiday brothers and how “complete” Aaron was during his last two years playing for the Bruins.  He also mentioned that with their pair of key stars being picked in the NBA Draft, the 2018-2019 edition of the crew from Westwood will be getting noticeably younger–all freshmen and sophomores will be in the starting lineup and riding the Pauley Pavilion/John and Nell Wooden Court.

One thing I learned after seeing Kentucky sporting the youngest team in their storied history during 2017-2018, it may translate to possible regular season success.  But in the NCAA Tournament, experience always wins out during the final weekend in early April.  Bottom line, expect some exciting basketball from these two proud and storied programs come November.

Before I go as the 4th of July Holiday approaches

I do have my annual March Madness Redux planned, and it is a good one:

It was not that long ago that not one, not two, not three, but four lower digit seeds all won their First Round tournament games–and all of them took place at the same site.

Look for the upsets during the first four days of July that dominated during the early round of the 2008 NCAA Tournament from Tampa, Florida.  Lucky for me during the final years of the regional CBS model where fans were mostly forced to watch one game out of a possible four in each day and evening session–I was able to see all four upsets live and mostly in their entirety.

I hope everyone has a fun week ahead.  Please make sure that during the upcoming Independence Day holiday weekend that if you are near any fireworks, leave them to the hands of the professionals.  It is simply not worth going to the ER over any fireworks that get in harm’s way.

I will be back the week of July 8 to discuss the latest news involving recruiting and any interesting nuggets about some schools’ non-conference schedules.

Take care, everyone.

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.