Two more November tournaments Announce Schedules

Gavitt Classic and Big Ten/ACC Challenge should whet fans’ appetite for many interesting games before and after the always hectic Thanksgiving holiday weekend

This past Tuesday (September 12), the Big Ten and Big East Conferences announced their television schedules for the third annual Dave Gavitt Classic, named in honor of the founder of the Big East.

All times are Eastern time for Fox Sports 1 and the Big Ten Newtwork:

Monday, Nov. 13
Minnesota at Providence: FS1, 6:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Nov. 14
Purdue at Marquette: FS1, 8:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Nov. 15
Indiana at Seton Hall: FS1, 6:30 p.m.
Butler at Maryland: FS1, 8:30 p.m.
Creighton at Northwestern: BTN, 9 p.m.

Thursday, Nov. 16
Nebraska at St. John’s: FS1, 6:30 p.m.
Xavier at Wisconsin: FS1, 8:30 p.m.

Friday, Nov. 17
DePaul at Illinois: BTN, 8:30 p.m.

Also, both conferences mentioned other tip times for other key non-conference games, as listed below:

Saturday, Dec. 9
Nebraska at Creighton: FS1, Noon or 2:30 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 16
Purdue vs. Butler (Crossroads Classic, Indianapolis, Ind.): FOX, Noon
Northwestern at DePaul: FS1, 2 p.m.
Indiana vs. Notre Dame (Crossroads Classic, Indianapolis, Ind.): FOX, 2:30 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 30
Brown at Northwestern (at Allstate Arena, Rosemont, Ill.): FS1, Noon


On Monday, ESPN announced their slate of games for the 19th Annual Big Ten/ACC Challenge:

Monday, Nov. 27
Maryland at Syracuse: ESPN2, 7p.m. ET
Wisconsin at Virginia: ESPN2, 9 p.m. ET

Tuesday, Nov. 28
Northwestern at Georgia Tech: ESPN2, 7 p.m. ET
Florida State at Rutgers: ESPNU, 7 p.m. ET
Louisville at Purdue: ESPN, 8 p.m. ET
Iowa at Virginia Tech: ESPN2, 9 p.m. ET
Illinois at Wake Forest: ESPNU, 9 p.m. ET

Wednesday, Nov. 29
Clemson at Ohio State: ESPN2, 7:15 p.m. ET
Penn State at NC State: ESPNU, 7:15 p.m. ET
Michigan at North Carolina: ESPN, 7:30 p.m. ET
Miami at Minnesota: ESPN2, 9:15 p.m. ET
Boston College at Nebraska: ESPNU, 9:15 p.m. ET
Duke at Indiana: ESPN, 9:30 p.m. ET

Thursday, Nov. 30
Notre Dame at Michigan State: ESPN, 7 p.m. ET

The games I highlighted in bold are a few of the top early season games to watch (consider yourselves warned before my annual Season Preview hits your inboxes during the last week of October).

And this does not even count the first Big Ten games to be carried on longtime rights holder CBS Sports (Saturday, December 2 with Indiana visiting Michigan) and newcomers on the block in Fox Sports (later that same day as Ohio State plays at Wisconsin).







A Pair of Books To Have On Your Bookshelf That Are Worth Checking Out

Both titles are available on Amazon and also at Half Price Books and eBay.

The first book chronicles the many timeless life lessons of the late legendary UCLA Coach John Wooden.  The best part is seeing every one of the past letter winners noted during Coach Wooden’s tenure along with every box score from their unequaled dynasty in winning 10 titles overall, including a whopping seven years in a row from 1967 to 1973 when schools were only required to win four tournament games instead of six to win it all:


Cover images courtesy of (above) and (below)


John McPhee was a teammate of the future Rhodes Scholar and United States Senator.  First written in 1965, it offers a fascinating account of Bill Bradley’s time spent at Princeton and the many lessons that he learned and used while practicing and playing basketball which would eventually lead to being drafted by the New York Knicks and would later serve him well as a 18 year veteran of the United States Senate.

After reading those entries, it is a shame we don’t have too many quality individuals representing most of our country in Congress today.

Fans cannot go wrong with adding either of these books.  They are also available online for reading on all Kindle and Nook devices.  In my mind, this is excellent reading for the last days of summer, or for any season of the year for that matter.

Rollie Massimino, coach of the 1985 Villanova Wildcats dies at age 82

We are all familiar with the old adage, “All deaths come in threes”:

If you count legendary football coach at Northwestern and Notre Dame during the 1960’s in Ara Parseghian from early August, along with two days after Michigan State lost their first legendary coach in Jud Heathcote, word came down from NAIA school Keiser University in West Palm Beach, Florida late Wednesday night as Coach Massimino spent the last 11 years as coach died of cancer at age 82 after briefly being entered into hospice care.

He along with John Thompson of Georgetown, Lou Carnesecca of St. John’s, and Jim Boeheim of Syracuse helped make the Big East a beast of a conference during the 1980’s.  Every game was like a war, and it was not common to have two top ranked teams play each other in a three day span.

Even to his last breath, Coach Thompson still considered Rollie a good close friend expressing his thoughts Thursday morning on ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike show.

Making early stops at Stony Brook, UNLV long before they became a powerhouse, and Cleveland State before making his mark at the private Philadelphia school in Villanova, his teams won a whopping 816 games in 41 seasons, 357 of those victories coming during his 19-year run at Villanova.  A proud member of the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013, he helped coach the Wildcats to the Elite Eight five different times between 1978 to 1988.  His last 11 years on the NAIA level saw the Seahawks win an amazing 80 percent of his games, compiling a rather nifty 298-75 record.

“The Nova Nation has lost a legend and great leader.  Coach’s love of family, community and teamwork were evident in every game his teams ever played. All of us, as coaches and players, idolized Coach Mass. He inspired and impacted all of our lives. He never stopped being a cherished mentor and friend.”

Villanova Head Coach Jay Wright in statement released by the school on Wednesday

His Wildcats are still the lowest seeded team (number 8) to win the NCAA Tournament.  In 1985, the tournament expanded from the then pool of 48 schools to the more popular 64 team model.

Georgetown was the defending champions entering the 1985 NCAA Tournament.  The Hoyas were led by 3 time National Player of the Year Patrick Ewing and lost only three games prior to their April 1 encounter at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky.

Most of the nation felt that a dynasty was in the making, even after surviving two close shave wins over Villanova during the regular season.

Their average margin of victory in the first two rounds was 21 points, while Villanova used the upset card to topple Dayton in their own gym by two points and later would upset the Southeast top seed that year in Michigan by four, Maryland by three and then second seed North Carolina by a final of 56-44.

Georgetown used excellent lockdown defense to throw off the upstarts that year in Loyola of Chicago 65-53 and a good Georgia Tech squad 60-54.  Compared to their 1984 championship run, that group of Hoyas won three straight tournament games by double digits.

After St. John’s and then Memphis State fell on semifinal Saturday, it set up the historic confrontation.  How does 78.6 percent field goal shooting tell the story?

CBS Sports described things very well and setting the table that memorable Monday night was veteran NFL announcer Dick Stockton.  Even more notable that year it was Jim Nantz describing the action in his very first NCAA Tournament for CBS.

The legendary Brent Musburger and Billy Packer had the call:

Former longtime Michigan State Coach Jud Heathcote passes away

Coach helped Earvin “Magic” Johnson become a superstar in guiding the Spartans to the 1979 NCAA Championship over Larry Bird and undefeated Indiana State

Late Monday night, ESPN along with CBS Sports and other media outlets were the first to mention a press release sent out by Michigan State University confirming that former veteran Head Coach Jud Heathcote died at the age of 90 in Spokane, Washington.

Prior to taking the Michigan State job in 1976, Heathcote spent five years tolling the sidelines at Montana compiling a modest 80-53 record.  But it was the three times that the Spartans won the Big Ten regular season title gave him the most satisfaction.  His overall record when he retired in 1995 was 419-274 (.605 winning percentage).

As most loyal fans know, Tom Izzo took over the program after spending 12 years as an assistant.  Coach Izzo had nothing but true praise in a statement released by the school:

“The basketball world is a sadder place today with the passing of Jud Heathcote.  No one cared more about the welfare of the game than Jud. He was a coach’s coach and a mentor to many….Without a doubt, he was one of the most influential people in my life — giving me a chance when no one else would. Any coaching success I’ve ever had is because of him. Long after he left Michigan State, he was still one of the first people I would call when I had a tough decision in coaching or life.”

His greatest accomplishment was winning the 1979 national championship over then undefeated Larry Bird and Indiana State 75-64 in what NBC still claims the record for the highest rated college basketball game in history, at a whopping 28.1 rating.

After my parents were kind enough to let me watch the game on that Monday night of March 26, 1979, you just couldn’t help but smile during the initial post-game comments asked by then esteemed NBC Sports reporter Bryant Gumbel.

Playing against an uncertain backdrop when the United States was suffering through double digit inflation and at some places saw very long lines since gas supplies were running short, the final minute of play at the Jon Huntsman Center on the campus of the University of Utah was simply pure “Magic” indeed:

Coach Heathcote will be missed, especially in the Big Ten Conference and the nation in general.  Thank you for all of the memories, especially during that amazing 1978-79 winning season.

For more about the 1979 championship game, I highly recommend longtime CBS Sports analyst Seth Davis’ exhaustive 324 page account from 2009 simply titled:


Seth Davis cover from 2009 book, courtesy of


Say Hello to Grand Canyon University

Newest full-time member of NCAA Division I Athletics is located in Phoenix

As first reported by ESPN, CBS Sports, and many other websites on Wednesday–the Grand Canyon Antelopes (or what the school simply calls them Lopes) will make their full-time debut in the Western Athletic Conference during the 2017-2018 academic year.

Founded in 1949, the school colors are the very fashionable combination of purple, black, and white.  According to their Wikipedia page, their student enrollment (as of September 2015) is 19,500 with another 60,700 individuals enrolled online.

What is most significant about this move is that GCU is the first university to be for-profit while competing in Division One athletics.  The school was at one time, a non-profit winning several conference titles between the years 1995 to 1998.

Most recently, ESPN was inside their basketball gym during Final Four week when they played host to the annual Collegiate 3 Point Shootout and Slam Dunk Championships.

They will join fellow newcomer Texas-Rio Grande Valley in the eight team WAC in all sports.

About This Solar Eclipse Thing

“May the shadow of the moon fall on a world at peace.”

Former ABC News anchor Frank Reynolds made that wish during last solar eclipse on the morning of February 26, 1979


The Cars, “Let’s Go”

Found on the 1979 album, Candy-O (Expanded Edition available online and on all streaming media players)

In case you forgot to either a) buy those special glasses, or b) cut out some holes to fit your eyes out of a simple cereal box, along with a piece of white scrap paper, and aluminum foil (Reynolds Wrap Heavy Duty I would recommend) and some tape to hold it together…

I could only imagine the next time it will happen, since we saw many small towns holding twice as many people as the town’s population (case in point–Casper, Wyoming where they nearly doubled their town watching the solar eclipse from 50,000 to having nearly 100,000 people late Monday morning)…

but Southern Illinois University took full advantage, as 15,000 people filled up their football stadium–complete with the cheerleaders performing in the end zones as if a football game was about to start while dancing to Michael Jackson’s legendary 1983 hit song, “Billie Jean”…they will get to experience it again in the true ‘path of totality’,  which will be happening Monday, April 8, 2024.

Although that eclipse will occur several hours before TBS airs that year’s National Championship game, the NCAA better choose their Final Four site wisely.

Glendale, Arizona anyone?  Minnesota?  Who knows?

The site where the Final Four is held every five years at Lucas Oil Stadium (since the NCAA relocated their headquarters to Indianapolis from Kansas City many years back), could resemble similar gridlock last seen when the New York Giants barely held off the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI.

In other news…Seth Davis of CBS Sports found new employment after being laid off earlier this summer at Sports Illustrated.  He will be on the same staff as former longtime college basketball writer Dana O’Neil at The Fieldhouse.

Sign up to be the first to read their articles and blogs starting on October 1 at this Twitter handle:  @TheAthleticCBB

Back to my regular scheduled blogs soon.

Big Ten to use condensed schedule during 2017-2018

This past Wednesday, the Big Ten Conference announced their conference schedule.  In the first five of December, each of the 14 schools will play two games (one home and one away) separated two days apart.  All of the coaches were hoping to give their players the chance to spend the holidays with their families and friends, since the 2016 portion of the schedule had four games on December 27 and another five to kick off 2017.  From January 2 to February 25, there will be at least one conference game during 51 of those 55 days.

Couple that with Northwestern having to play all of their home games nine miles away from Evanston at Allstate Arena (the former longtime home of the DePaul Blue Demons) while Welsh-Ryan Arena is getting a much needed facelift from the inside out) and Williams Arena on the Minnesota campus will be used for concerts and parties featuring national celebrities for six days.  One must safely guess with Jimmy Fallon will be bringing his Late Night act into the Twin Cities to kick off February in time for Super Bowl LII, as the Gophers will be busy on the road during the biggest game of the year (which will take place five nights before the Winter Olympics began over a half world away in Pyeongchang, Korea).

The website has the full schedule, but the television slates will be announced sometime in October from BTN, ESPN, CBS Sports, and the newcomers in Fox Sports.

All of this leads into the 21st Annual Big Ten Tournament, to be played for the first time at the home of the 2018 Grammy Awards–Madison Square Garden in New York from February 28 to March 4.  This much I do know–CBS will be covering their first NYC conference tournament games since they had the Big East way back in 1995. Some teams may be off a full two weeks before the NCAA Tournament, something current Iowa coach Fran McCaffrey knows very well after leading Siena to a dramatic double overtime upset over Ohio State in the first round of the 2009 NCAA Tournament.  The Saints had a full ten days off between games, something that Minnesota Head Coach Richard Pitino or longtime Michigan State Head Coach Tom Izzo have not had huge a break in the schedule.  Normally, most Power 5 schools get no more than five or six days off prior to the NCAA Tournament.

Here is the first slate of games to chew over.  Hopefully, I will find the time to blog more about these matchups and maybe do a brief podcast once the turkey break is behind us for another year:

Friday, December 1:

Defending Big Ten regular season champions Purdue at Maryland

Illinois at Northwestern, to be played at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, IL

Saturday, Dec. 2:  Penn State at Iowa

Indiana at Michigan

Ohio State at Wisconsin

Sunday, Dec. 3:  Maryland at Illinois

Nebraska at Michigan State

Rutgers at Minnesota

Northwestern at Purdue

Monday, Dec. 4:

Iowa at Indiana

Michigan at Ohio State

Wisconsin at Penn State

Tuesday, Dec. 5:

Minnesota at Nebraska

Michigan State at Rutgers