Chicago Colleges: Big East

D.C. prep coach named to DePaul's staff

June, 17, 2013
6/17/13
3:32
PM CT
Former Washington D.C. high school coach Renard Phillips was named as an assistant to DePaul coach Oliver Purnell's staff on Monday.

Phillips had been at Friendship Collegiate Academy in Washington D.C. since 2012. Friendship Collegiate Academy went 20-7 and reached the semifinals of the Beltway Independent Playoffs last season. He has also been a prep coach at Arlington Country Day in Jacksonville, Fla., Progressive Christian Academy in Temple Hills, Md., Georgetown Prep in Rockville, Md.

Phillips was also involved in coaching DC Assault, a club program in Washington D.C., since 2008.

Phillips replaces Brian Ellerbe on the Blue Demons' staff. Ellerbe wasn't retained by Purnell after DePaul went 11-21 overall and 2-16 in the Big East last season.

Catholic 7 departing June 30

March, 8, 2013
3/08/13
10:09
PM CT

Three months after indicating they were leaving the Big East Conference to form their own league, the Catholic 7's departure date finally became official.

The Big East announced Friday it has agreed to allow the Catholic 7 schools to depart on June 30.

"I am pleased that this agreement has been reached," Big East commissioner Mike Aresco said. "With the long-term well-being of our outstanding institutions and their student-athletes of paramount importance, each group worked through a number of complex issues in an orderly, comprehensive and amicable manner marked by mutual respect. We part ways as friends and colleagues and look forward to the success of both conferences."

To read Brett McMurphy and Andy Katz's full story, click here.
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Big East

Notre Dame 82, DePaul 78 (OT)

February, 14, 2013
2/14/13
9:24
AM CT

Notre Dame picks up 20th win of the season in an 82-78 overtime victory over DePaul.

Rapid Reaction: Notre Dame 104, L'ville 101

February, 10, 2013
2/10/13
12:17
AM CT


SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- A quick reaction to Notre Dame's five-overtime, 104-101 victory over Louisville on Saturday night, the longest regular-season game in Big East history:

Overview: Five overtimes? Of course.

In a season filled with constant upsets and countless endings as strange as they are thrilling, the Irish victory over Louisville was undoubtedly the strangest -- and the most exciting.

For the first 39 minutes, it was utterly predictable. For the final minute of regulation, and the five overtimes that followed, it was as crazy as anything we've seen since Connecticut and Syracuse played six OTs in the 2009 Big East tournament at Madison Square Garden. (In fact, it was the first college basketball game to go over five overtimes since that night in New York.)

This being college basketball in 2013, even the ugliest and least-appealing games can end with utter mind-blowing surprise, and that's also what we got Saturday night. Notre Dame looked cooked with as few as 50 seconds left, but Irish guard Jerian Grant hit a trio of deep 3-pointers, Louisville missed a few free throws, and when Grant drove to the basket to make a game-tying three-point play, all of a sudden the game was tied at 60. And for the fifth time in the last six meetings ... overtime.

Just how crazy was this? Notre Dame took 39 minutes and 10 seconds to score 48 points. It took 29 seconds to score 12. All 12 were scored by Grant, who was 0-for-6 from the field up to that point.

Nor did the Irish fade in overtime -- all five overtimes, that is -- even as foul problems took stars Jack Cooley and Grant and eventually pretty much everyone else off the floor. The Irish clamped down on the defensive end and got to the line frequently to keep the Cardinals from opening another lead wider than a possession.

Louisville's Russ Smith had a chance to win the game at the end of the first OT, but the kid Cardinals coach Rick Pitino nicknamed "Russdiculous" took one of the most nickname-worthy shots of his career, waiting until just a few seconds remained before launching a baffling 26-footer that clanged off the glass and left his teammates no time to rebound it. He could have ended the second overtime, too, and he did his part, hitting two key free throws in the final seconds. He could have ended the fourth -- he shot the ball with a dead shot clock and a one-on-three fast break for no other reason than the fact that he's Russ Smith.

Somehow, the star of overtime was Garrick Sherman, who didn't even play in four of Notre Dame's previous six games. His rebounding and post buckets were the most important of the game, seemingly over and over again. His tip-in sent us to the fifth overtime. After not playing a second in regulation, Sherman finished with 17 points on 7-of-10 from the field.

Mercifully, that's where it ended. Down three, Smith took another long 3, and it ended. It actually ended.

Turning point: Pretty much everything that happened from the final minute onward. There's not a whole lot more I can tell you than that.

Star of the game: For as ugly as Louisville's offense was -- and as wild as things got throughout the various bonus times -- the one consistent factor was the interior scoring of Cardinals forward Chane Behanan's interior scoring. His 30 points came on 13-of-20 from the field with added 14 rebounds, and he was really the calmest go-to option Louisville had throughout. The Cardinals didn't win, but Behanan's performance was by far Saturday's best.

Key stat: Notre Dame entered the final minute of regulation with 48 points. It ended regulation with 60. It ended the game with 104. Your guess is as good as mine.

Up next: Louisville gets a return home and bit of a rest before a tricky and talented St. John's team comes to town Thursday, while Notre Dame will have a nice opportunity to get that offense clicking again when lowly DePaul arrives Wednesday.
 

Preview: Notre Dame-Cincinnati

January, 7, 2013
1/07/13
10:00
AM CT
Despite the Discover BCS National Championship, there is actually college basketball on television tonight. And, believe it or not, that college basketball features Notre Dame, who'll tip off at Cincinnati at 6:30 ET -- just in time to squeeze in some basketball before the Irish football team takes the field in the national title game against Alabama.

I have no idea whether Notre Dame fans can even think about basketball right now. I have a bunch of friends who went to Notre Dame, and I have a feeling basketball is going to be the last thing they care about as game time creeps ever closer tonight. They're nervous. Palms are sweaty, knees weak, etc. etc. But if you guys are looking for a distraction before the game, an athletics appetizer, you can't do much better than Notre Dame's trip to Cincinnati.

For the straight-up college hoops fiends, it's also a pretty fascinating strength-on-strength matchup. The Irish, who have quietly been rolling along to their 13-1 record since their high-profile November win over Kentucky, are playing some of the most efficient offensive basketball in the country. They've scored 1.20 points per possession in their 14 games this season, fourth best in the country. They rank in the top 10 in the country in field goal percentage from both outside (40.6) and inside (56.7) the arc. Jack Cooley is the best rebounder in the country, bar none -- his 23.4 offensive rebounding rate is the highest in the nation, and he grabs 24.0 percent of available boards -- and his offensive rating of 130.6 offensive rating on 25.8 usage marks him as one of the most effective offensive players in the country. And Cooley is surrounded by some really capable, experienced players -- guards Eric Atkins and Jerian Grant, senior forward Scott Martin, sharpshooter Pat Connaughton, and really impressive 6-foot-7 freshman Cameron Biedscheid.

On defense, on the other hand, the Irish are plainly mediocre. Their defense is ranked No. 140 in the country in KenPom's adjusted defensive efficiency rankings, which is sort of strange considering a) how good the Irish have been, and b) how good the Irish are on offense. It's a huge disparity, but don't be fooled by the Irish's slow pace -- it's real.

Cincinnati is a little bit like that, but, you know, the opposite. The Bearcats boast the third-ranked efficiency defense in the country; they hold opponents to 29.0 percent from 3 and just 38.5 percent from 2 -- the third-lowest percentage for opponents in the country. If you've seen Cincy play, you realize the reason for this immediately: The Bearcats are long and athletic and fast, and they smother and swarm and extend their defense, and they make life very difficult for opposing offenses. They grind you, and usually it works.

When it doesn't work -- see Cincinnati's home loss to St. John's Saturday -- it's because the Bearcats' offense is, like ND's defense, pretty mediocre. The Bearcats' 1.06 points per possession ranks them No. 76 in the country. With the exception of Cashmere Wright, who shoots 46.2 from long range, and Sean Kilpatrick, who makes 51.8 percent of his twos, the Bearcats can be just as much of a grind on offense.

Which is why, in a nutshell, this game is pretty interesting: Because it will put Notre Dame's great offense against Cincinnati's great defense, and the game could well come down to who does their worst thing best -- whether Cincinnati can score on ND's soft D, or whether the Irish have improved enough to take control of the game.

Expect a slow pace, a tough, hard-fought game, expect a high-level Big East clash. And then go watch football. Not bad, right?

Maui Invitational primer

November, 19, 2012
11/19/12
11:19
AM CT
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the game that tiny Chaminade (then an NAIA school) upset Ralph Sampson’s top-ranked Virginia team on Dec. 23, 1982 -- leading to the creation of the Maui Classic (now EA Sports Maui Invitational). Because there are plenty of teams in the field with plenty of question marks and plenty to prove, there may be plenty of room for an upset or two this season.

The basics: Nov. 19-21 at Lahaina Civic Center in Maui, Hawaii

The set matchups: Monday -- Butler vs. Marquette, 3:30 p.m. ET; Mississippi State vs. UNC, 6 p.m.; Texas vs. Chaminade, 9:30 p.m.; USC vs. Illinois, midnight. (Consolation games and semifinals on Tuesday; consolation games and championship game Wednesday.)

The favorite: North Carolina. Although the 11th-ranked Tar Heels are still getting their bearings after losing four starters from last season’s Elite Eight team, they’ve got some talented pieces to meld together, beginning with sophomore forward James Michael McAdoo and junior wing Reggie Bullock. This three-day tournament will be an important test, though, for UNC’s ballhandling (freshman Marcus Paige is the starter), scoring (it has struggled in stretches) and confidence. If any falter, so could the Heels.

FIVE PLAYERS TO WATCH

Javan Felix, Texas -- With Myck Kabongo sidelined (see below), the point guard is one of three freshmen to start for the Longhorns. He’s struggled with his shooting over two games (5-for-18), but even more worrisome is that he’s struggled to hold on to the ball. He recorded 11 turnovers to go with 10 assists in wins over Coppin State and Fresno State, and he’ll need to be more efficient this week.

Trent Lockett, Marquette -- The former Arizona State forward transferred to be closer to his ill mother and adds a scoring threat to a team that lost last season’s leading scorers, Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder. After averaging 13 points and 5.8 rebounds for the Sun Devils last season, he’s averaged 7.5 points and 4.5 rebounds this season.

[+] EnlargeJames Michael McAdoo
Cal Sport Media via AP ImagesJames Michael McAdoo has been the leading scorer and rebounder for the Tar Heels in each of their games so far.
James Michael McAdoo, UNC -- Everyone wondered whether the sophomore could consistently pick up where he left off in March -- and he has. The forward has been both confident and focused, and is leading the Tar Heels with 21.3 points and 11 rebounds per game over their first three wins. With his team’s inexperience in the post, he’ll need to continue to come up big for UNC to be successful.

Omar Oraby, USC -- The 7-foot-2, 260-pound transfer from Rice was granted an NCAA hardship waiver to play this season just before the regular-season opener, and he has taken advantage of the opportunity. He averaged 10.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks off the bench in the Trojans’ two wins and should be a physical post challenge for foes in this tournament.

D.J. Richardson, Illinois -- The senior guard capped a 16-point rally with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer in overtime to top Hawaii 78-77 in the wee hours of Saturday morning. You might not have seen the play, considering the late timing. But the team’s leading rebounder (5.7 per game) and third-leading scorer (11.0) needs to keep coming up big for the Illini to stay in the winner’s bracket.

FIVE BIG QUESTIONS

Will Myck Kabongo do anything more than watch? Texas’ sophomore point guard was allowed to travel with the team to Hawaii, but he has not been cleared to play as the NCAA continues to investigate him for possibly receiving impermissible benefits during the offseason. His status could be a difference-maker in this tournament.

Will Butler start connecting from the outside? Arkansas transfer Rotnei Clarke and freshman Kellen Dunham were supposed to help fix Butler’s outside shooting woes from a year ago, when the Bulldogs shot worse than 30 percent from beyond the 3-point arc. But the duo are a combined 10-for-28 in two games (including 2-for-10 in a 15-point loss to Xavier) on 3-pointers, and the Bulldogs are shooting only 31 percent from long distance.

Can Mississippi State stay healthy? It needs to, because the Bulldogs have only six healthy scholarship players with which to play three games in three days. Junior guard Jalen Steele, who recorded 16 points in MSU’s season-opening loss, broke his wrist in the team’s win over Florida Atlantic. The Bulldogs also suspended forward Colin Borchert last week for violating team rules, and freshmen Jacoby Davis and DeAndre Applewhite are also out for the season with knee injuries.

Can UNC keep its shooting sharp? The Tar Heels, who need outside shooting to be a strength, finally started hitting from the outside during Friday night’s win at Long Beach State, making 10 of 27 3-pointers, including six during a pivotal 23-7 second-half run. That was after beginning the season by making only a combined 7 of 27 3-point shots in their first two games. Wings Reggie Bullock, P.J. Hairston and Leslie McDonald need to keep connecting.

Will Chaminade pull another upset? Probably not. But on the 30th anniversary, it’s fun to wonder whether the now-Division II school could do it again ....

THE PICKS

Opening games: Marquette over Butler, UNC over Mississippi State, Texas over Chaminade, Illinois over USC
Semifinals: UNC over Marquette, Texas over Illinois
Championship game: UNC over Texas

Purnell looks for DePaul to take next step

November, 15, 2012
11/15/12
5:33
PM CT
CHICAGO -- DePaul coach Oliver Purnell said Wednesday he believes the Blue Demons could jump to the middle of the Big East this season after finishing in last place the last two years.

"That would be an improvement for us to get in the middle," the third-year coach Purnell said prior to practice on Wednesday. "The difference is when you're in the Big East along with several other great conferences in the country, then you got a chance to compete for everything. If we can move up to the middle of the Big East and be competitive with everybody, get some more wins along the way and do a good job in non-conference, now we're talking."

(Read full post)

The 10 worst nonconference schedules

October, 11, 2012
10/11/12
2:14
PM CT
Editor's Note: This week, ESPN.com broke down the nonconference schedules of each and every team in a dozen of the nation's top leagues. On Monday, we began in the South with the ACC, SEC and C-USA. On Tuesday, we focused on the East with the A-10, Big East and CAA. Wednesday was all about the West with the Mountain West, Pac-12 and WCC. Today we focused on the Midwest with the Big Ten, Missouri Valley and Big 12. We also analyzed the schedules of 10 prominent mid-majors from outside those 12 conferences.

A quick note: You may notice that many of the below schedules come from unsurprising places. When ranking and grading nonconference schedules, we try to take into account the relative strength of a team, if a program is rebuilding, and so forth. But for the purposes of this post, such distinctions were difficult to parse.

I understand many of these schedules are constructed in order to help teams along in their development, and also -- let's just be honest about it -- inflate win totals. Even so, these are all high-major teams. They could all do better. In the end, I tried to find the 10 worst high-major schedules, with only minimal (but not zero!) consideration for program context. OK, let's begin (in alphabetical order):

DEPAUL

Toughest: Cancun Challenge (Nov. 20-21)
Next-toughest: at Arizona State (Dec. 12)
The rest: UC Riverside (Nov. 9), Gardner-Webb (Nov. 15), Austin Peay (Nov. 17), Fairfield (Nov. 27), at Auburn (Nov. 30), at Chicago State (Dec. 5), Milwaukee (Dec. 9), Northern Illinois (Dec. 16), UMBC (Dec. 22), Loyola-Chicago (Dec. 29)

DePaul is getting better under third-year coach Oliver Purnell, especially compared to where the Blue Demons were (hint: in the absolute talent cellar) when he took over. Unfortunately, the schedule is not following suit. The Cancun Challenge is the only thing worth noting here, and it features Wichita State (which is also a rebuilding program) and either Iowa or Western Kentucky. If that's Iowa, great -- the Hawkeyes are a trendy Big Ten sleeper pick. That said, when Iowa is your best possible opponent, sorry, your schedule is bad.

OKLAHOMA STATE

Toughest: South Florida (Dec. 5), Gonzaga (Dec. 31)
Next-toughest: Puerto Rico Tip-Off (Nov. 15-18), at Virginia Tech (Dec. 1)
The rest: UC Davis (Nov. 9), Portland State (Nov. 25), Missouri State (Dec. 8), Central Arkansas (Dec. 16), UT-Arlington (Dec. 19), Tennessee Tech (Dec. 22)

This schedule is not as bad as some of the others you'll see on this list. However, it is the worst of any team you'll see that also has two McDonald's All-Americans on its roster. There are no true road challenges, the Puerto Rico Tip-Off field is good but not great, and Gonzaga is the only top-25 team anywhere near the slate if the Pokes fall flat in San Juan. This isn't a great nonconference schedule by any metric, but when you take into account Oklahoma State's talent level -- and their chances of playing spoiler in the Big 12 this season -- it is rather blasé.

OLE MISS

Toughest: Diamond Head Classic (Dec. 22-25 in Honolulu)
Next-toughest: at Middle Tennessee (Dec. 8), at Loyola Marymount (Dec. 19)
The rest: Mississippi Valley State (Nov. 9), Coastal Carolina (Nov. 13), Arkansas-Little Rock (Nov. 16), McNeese State (Nov. 20), Lipscomb (Nov. 23), Rutgers (Dec. 1), ETSU (Dec. 14), Fordham (Jan. 4)

There are some who believe Ole Miss will be an NCAA tournament team in 2012-13. Others claim the Rebels can hang near the top -- or at least in the middle of the pack -- in the SEC this season. That may or may not be true, but we won't really find out until SEC play begins. Other than a possible matchup with San Diego State on a neutral court, and a road game at Middle Tennessee -- points for that, but not too many -- Ole Miss has absolutely nothing on its schedule. With a few exceptions, most of the teams on this list are rebuilding, and their schedules say so. Andy Kennedy's team is supposed to be rounding into form, but you wouldn't know it from the above schedule.

PITTSBURGH

Toughest: NIT Season Tip-Off (Nov. 12-23)
Next-toughest: Detroit (Dec. 1)
The rest: Mount St. Mary’s (Nov. 9), Fordham (Nov. 12), Oakland (Nov. 17), Howard (Nov. 27), vs. Duquesne (Dec. 5 at Consol Energy Center), North Florida (Dec. 8), Bethune Cookman (Dec. 15), Delaware State (Dec. 19), Kennesaw State (Dec. 23)

It's hard to fault Jamie Dixon for his scheduling philosophy. As SI.com's Luke Winn wrote last month, Dixon is the nation's best RPI exploiter; he slips in every crevice of the NCAA's crude metric, all while rarely putting his team at risk. And with due praise out of the way, sorry, but this schedule is really ugly. Pitt is likely to play Michigan and either Virginia or Kansas State in the NIT Season Tip-Off, but even if those games were guaranteed they're not enough to keep the Panthers off this list. Besides, sure, Pitt was bad last year, but let's not forget that this is still Pitt, one of the most comprehensively consistent programs of the past decade. Their scheduling sights should be set much higher.

PROVIDENCE

Toughest: Puerto Rico Tip-Off (Nov. 15-18)
Next-toughest: Mississippi State (Dec. 1), at Boston College (Dec. 22)
The rest: NJIT (Nov. 10), Bryant (Nov. 12), Fairfield (Nov. 23), Holy Cross (Nov. 27), Rhode Island (Dec. 6), Colgate (Dec. 18), at Brown (Dec. 28)

The differences between what this schedule could be, and what it is, are stark. For example, had the Friars got Mississippi State in any of the past five years -- rather than this one -- that would be a quality opponent. And if Boston College wasn't undergoing its own rebuilding project, and if PC were to topple UMass in the first round in Puerto Rico (opening up possible games against NC State and Tennessee), then we may be talking. Alas, the schedule as it is is downright brutal, with Mississippi State and BC and then a bunch of really cupcake-y low majors (NJIT, Bryant) rounding out the badness.

RUTGERS

Toughest: at Ole Miss (Dec. 1)
Next-toughest: at Princeton (Nov. 16), vs. Iona (Dec. 8 in NYC)
The rest: St. Peter’s (Nov. 9), Sacred Heart (Nov. 12), Boston U (Nov. 20), UNC Greensboro (Nov. 25), George Washington (Dec. 11), UAB (Dec. 16), Rider (Dec. 28)

As medium-to-low mid-majors go, Princeton and Iona are pretty solid. As the lynchpins of the schedule you create -- that game at Ole Miss is part of the Big East/SEC Challenge, so minimal points are awarded -- they are not exactly beasts. And ... that's pretty much it! Most of the schedules on this list at least have a token mediocre early-season tournament to their credit. Rutgers doesn't even have that. Gross.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Toughest: at St. John’s (Nov. 29)
Next-toughest: Hoops for Hope Classic (Nov. 24-25 in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico), Clemson (Dec. 2)
The rest: Milwaukee (Nov. 11), Morgan State (Nov. 16), Rider (Nov. 19), Elon (Nov. 21), Jacksonville (Dec. 7), Appalachian State (Dec. 19), vs. Manhattan (Dec. 22 in Brooklyn), Presbyterian (Dec. 29), South Carolina State (Jan. 5)

You'll have to forgive South Carolina: It's going to take some time to get used to this whole "basketball being important" thing. That's the promise of coach Frank Martin's hire, and there's every reason to believe Martin will get the Gamecocks and their fans there eventually (by dragging them kicking and screaming, if needed). But this schedule still reflects the old South Carolina, where the Gamecocks would routinely (attempt) to feast on early-season cupcakes in the hopes of inflating their win totals and getting to the NCAA tournament. It never really worked. The game at St. John's is a must, thanks to the Big East/SEC Challenge. Other than that, yikes.

TCU

Toughest: South Padre Island Invitational (Nov. 23-24)
Next-toughest: Houston (Dec. 4), at Tulsa (Dec. 9)
The rest: Cal Poly (Nov. 9), Centenary (Nov. 12), SMU (Nov. 15), Prairie View A&M (Nov. 18), Navy (Nov. 20), Southern Utah (Nov. 29), Southern (Dec. 18), at Rice (Dec. 22), Mississippi Valley State (Dec. 30)

Look, it's hard to fault TCU -- and especially first-year coach Trent Johnson -- for having one of the worst schedules in the country. Of course the Horned Frogs are scheduling soft. They've been rebuilding for ... forever, basically. But still, we're in high-major territory now. Let this be a friendly reminder that it's time to start scheduling like it.

TEXAS TECH

Toughest: Arizona (Dec. 1), Alabama (Dec. 19)
Next-toughest: Arizona State (Dec. 22)
The rest: Prairie View A&M (Nov. 9), Nebraska-Omaha (Nov. 14), Grambling State (Nov. 20), Jackson State (Nov. 26), Northern Kentucky (Dec. 4), McNeese State (Dec. 16), North Carolina A&T (Dec. 28), Florida A&M (Dec. 31)

Perhaps this is now-deposed Texas Tech coach Billy Gillispie's final legacy at the school: The strategy of somehow getting away with not scheduling any road games whatsoever. Arizona is a quality opponent (if young), and Alabama is fundamentally solid (if somewhat retooling), but other than those two "highlights," most of this schedule comprises low-major guarantee games and few real challenges. Oh, and Arizona State. You get the point.

UTAH

Toughest: at BYU (Dec. 8 )
Next-toughest: at SMU (Nov. 28), Boise State (Dec. 5)
The rest: Williamette (Nov. 9), Sacramento State (Nov. 16), Idaho State (Nov. 21), Central Michigan (Nov. 23), Wright State (Nov. 24), at Texas State (Nov. 30), SMU (Dec. 18), Cal State Northridge (Dec. 21), College of Idaho (Dec. 28)

The Utes went 6-25 last season. They were historically bad in the nonconference and nearly as bad during conference play. (Though somehow not as bad as USC. That still boggles the mind. How do you perform worse than Utah in last year's Pac-12?! How is that possible?) The point being, no one would expect Utah to be loading up on a Texas-esque nonconference slate. Unless you're actively trying to set new school win total lows, there doesn't seem to be much point. And having said all that ... with the exception of the long-standing rivalry game at BYU, this schedule is atrocious.

Nonconference schedule analysis: Big East

October, 11, 2012
10/11/12
2:13
PM CT
This week, ESPN.com is breaking down the nonconference schedules of each and every team in a dozen of nation's top leagues. On Monday, we began with the ACC, SEC and C-USA. We started Tuesday with the A-10 and now it's off to the Big East ...

CINCINNATI

Toughest: Global Sports Invitational (Nov. 23-24 in Las Vegas)
Next-toughest: Alabama (Dec. 1), vs. Marshall (Dec. 15 in Charleston, W.Va.), vs. Xavier (Dec. 19 at US Bank Arena), New Mexico (Dec. 27)
The rest: UT-Martin (Nov. 11), Mississippi Valley State (Nov. 13), North Carolina A&T (Nov. 18), Campbell (Nov. 20), Arkansas-Little Rock (Dec. 6), Maryland-Eastern Shore (Dec. 8), Wright State (Dec. 22)
Toughness scale (1-10): 5 -- The Bearcats earn a slight bump thanks to a trip to Vegas that includes a game against Iowa State and then either UNLV or Oregon. But otherwise there isn’t a lot to get excited about here. Even the Crosstown Shootout has lost a little luster, moved off campus after the brawl and muted by a seriously depleted Xavier roster.

CONNECTICUT

Toughest: vs. Michigan State (Nov. 9 in Germany), vs. NC State (Dec. 4 in NYC), Washington (Dec. 29)
Next-toughest: Paradise Jam (Nov. 16-19), Harvard (Dec. 7)
The rest: Vermont (Nov. 13), Stony Brook (Nov. 25), New Hampshire (Nov. 29), Maryland-Eastern Shore (Dec. 17), Fordham (Dec. 21)
Toughness scale: 8 -- Welcome to the hot seat, Kevin Ollie. Jim Calhoun has done you little in the way of a favor, leaving a Huskies team in the midst of reconstructing itself a tough schedule. The Armed Forces Classic with the Spartans on the base in Germany will be a spectacle in the best sense of the word, but followed just four days later with a not-so-easy game against perennial America East contender Vermont. And that’s just the first week. There's also a preseason top-10 team in NC State and a decent field in the Virgin Islands that includes New Mexico and several dangerous mid-majors.

DEPAUL

Toughest: Cancun Challenge (Nov. 20-21)
Next-toughest: at Arizona State (Dec. 12)
The rest: UC Riverside (Nov. 9), Gardner-Webb (Nov. 15), Austin Peay (Nov. 17), Fairfield (Nov. 27), at Auburn (Nov. 30), at Chicago State (Dec. 5), Milwaukee (Dec. 9), Northern Illinois (Dec. 16), UMBC (Dec. 22), Loyola-Chicago (Dec. 29)
Toughness scale: 2 -- There’s a rationale here that’s understandable. DePaul has to walk before it can run and frontloading an impossible schedule will do no good for a team still trying to crawl its way up the Big East standings. But maybe a little something to move the needle wouldn’t be a bad idea. The Cancun event is about it and that offers up retooling Wichita State and either Iowa or Western Kentucky.

GEORGETOWN

Toughest: vs. Florida (Nov. 9 in Jacksonville), Legends Classic (Nov. 19-20 in Brooklyn, N.Y.)
Next-toughest: Tennessee (Nov. 30), vs. Texas (Dec. 4 in New York)
The rest: Duquesne (Nov. 11), Liberty (Nov. 14), Mount St. Mary’s (Nov. 24), Towson (Dec. 8), Longwood (Dec. 10), Western Carolina (Dec. 15), American (Dec. 22)
Toughness scale: 8 -- This schedule is potentially even better. If the Hoyas beat UCLA in Brooklyn, they'll likely take on preseason No. 1 Indiana the next day. That's after the opener against Florida and before tough games against Tennessee and Texas. Georgetown, looking for a second straight better-than-expected season, will be well-tested by the beginning of December. If they aren’t beaten up or beaten down, the Hoyas will come out the stronger for it in time for Big East play.

LOUISVILLE

Toughest: Battle 4 Atlantis (Nov. 22-24), at Memphis (Dec. 15), Kentucky (Dec. 29)
Next-toughest: Illinois State (Dec. 1), vs. Western Kentucky (Dec. 22 in Nashville)
The rest: Manhattan (Nov. 11), Samford (Nov. 15), Miami-Ohio (Nov. 18), at Charleston (Dec. 4), UMKC (Dec. 8), Florida International (Dec. 19)
Toughness scale: 8 -- The beauty in this schedule is what you don’t see -- namely the Battle 4 Atlantis schedule after the first-round date with Northern Iowa. Missouri, Stanford, Memphis, VCU, Duke and Minnesota round out the field of heavy hitters, all of whom will give the top-5 Cards plenty to handle. And the date with Kentucky is always a nice friendly little waltz, too.

MARQUETTE

Toughest: vs. Ohio State (Nov. 9 in Charleston, S.C.), Maui Invitational (Nov. 19-20), at Florida (Nov. 29), Wisconsin (Dec. 8)
Next-toughest: LSU (Dec. 22)
The rest: Colgate (Nov. 11), Southeastern Louisiana (Nov. 13), UMBC (Nov. 26), Savannah State (Dec. 15), at Green Bay (Dec. 19), North Carolina Central (Dec. 29)
Toughness scale: 8 -- Another schedule with a hidden gem -- that would be a potential tango with North Carolina in Maui. But only if the Golden Eagles get past Butler, no easy task. Even without that, though, Buzz Williams has set his team up nicely, with not just some big names but a good mix of contrasting styles -- from uptempo Florida to no-tempo Wisconsin. You can even forgive Marquette for its dose of supposed ‘easy’ games. There's enough heft here, including that opener against the Buckeyes, to excuse any number of softies.

NOTRE DAME

Toughest: CVC Classic (Nov. 16-17 in Brooklyn, N.Y.), Kentucky (Nov. 29)
Next-toughest: vs. Purdue (Dec. 15 in Indianapolis)
The rest: Evansville (Nov. 10), Monmouth (Nov. 12), George Washington (Nov. 21), St. Francis-Pa. (Nov. 24), Chicago State (Nov. 26), Brown (Dec. 8), IPFW (Dec. 17), Kennesaw State (Dec. 19), Niagara (Dec. 21)
Toughness scale: 5 -- It’s not awful -- and it could get better, with Florida State perhaps waiting in the wings in Brooklyn (ND opens with A-10 favorite St. Joe's there) -- but this isn’t exactly the same as the Irish’s football schedule. Yes, Kentucky coming to town for the SEC/Big East Challenge is a great feather in the cap, but there are too many teams here that aren’t guaranteed NCAA tournament selections to get hyped up about.

PITTSBURGH

Toughest: NIT Season Tip-Off (Nov. 12-23)
Next-toughest: Detroit (Dec. 1)
The rest: Mount St. Mary’s (Nov. 9), Fordham (Nov. 12), Oakland (Nov. 17), Howard (Nov. 27), vs. Duquesne (Dec. 5 at Consol Energy Center), North Florida (Dec. 8), Bethune Cookman (Dec. 15), Delaware State (Dec. 19), Kennesaw State (Dec. 23)
Toughness scale: 3 -- Yikes. This is a whole lotta meh for the Panthers. The NIT will help. Assuming they beat Fordham and/or Robert Morris or Lehigh (the latter of which won't be easy), a trip to MSG will likely produce a matchup with Michigan and either Virginia or Kansas State. The rest is pretty grim, but then again so was Pitt last season. It might be not be a bad way to go about the season.

PROVIDENCE

Toughest: Puerto Rico Tip-Off (Nov. 15-18)
Next-toughest: Mississippi State (Dec. 1), at Boston College (Dec. 22)
The rest: NJIT (Nov. 10), Bryant (Nov. 12), Fairfield (Nov. 23), Holy Cross (Nov. 27), Rhode Island (Dec. 6), Colgate (Dec. 18), at Brown (Dec. 28)
Toughness scale: 2 -- You almost can’t fault the Friars here. It’s not their fault New England basketball is a mess. If it weren’t, games against Rhode Island and BC would have some heft. But truth be told, Ed Cooley ought to be sighing in relief here. Without heralded freshman Ricardo Ledo, Providence needs a little more time to build, and this schedule ought to allow for that. There might be some meat in San Juan with an opener against UMass and Tennessee and NC State in the field. But there's not much else to see here.

RUTGERS

Toughest: at Ole Miss (Dec. 1)
Next-toughest: at Princeton (Nov. 16), vs. Iona (Dec. 8 in NYC)
The rest: St. Peter’s (Nov. 9), Sacred Heart (Nov. 12), Boston U (Nov. 20), UNC Greensboro (Nov. 25), George Washington (Dec. 11), UAB (Dec. 16), Rider (Dec. 28)
Toughness scale: 1 -- When the toughest games you have are against the Ivy League and a middle-of-the-pack SEC contender (which was scheduled for them), there just isn’t much to crow about. This is a schedule built to get Rutgers wins but not much else.

ST. JOHN’S

Toughest: Charleston Classic (Nov. 15-18)
Next-toughest: Detroit (Nov. 13), South Carolina (Nov. 29)
The rest: Holy Cross (Nov. 21), Florida Gulf Coast (Nov. 24), NJIT (Dec. 1), at San Francisco (Dec. 4), Fordham (Dec. 8), vs. St. Francis-NY (Dec. 15 in Brooklyn, N.Y.), UNC Asheville (Dec. 21)
Toughness scale: 4 -- The Red Storm could get a bump in Charleston, where they open with the home-team Cougars and could draw Murray State in the second round and maybe Baylor or Colorado down the road. So that’s not awful. But otherwise Steve Lavin has a manageable -- if not entirely easy -- reentry into his coaching career, as does his young roster.

SETON HALL

Toughest: Hall of Fame Tipoff Classic (Nov. 17-18 in Uncasville, Conn.)
Next-toughest: at LSU (Nov. 29), at Wake Forest (Dec. 8), vs. LIU-Brooklyn (Dec. 22 in Brooklyn, N.Y.)
The rest: UMKC (Nov. 9), Norfolk State (Nov. 12), Maine (Nov. 21), St. Peter’s (Nov. 25), NJIT (Dec. 4), North Carolina A&T (Dec. 15), Longwood (Dec. 19), Stony Brook (Dec. 28)
Toughness scale: 3 -- This could get better if the Pirates play Ohio State at Mohegan Sun (that would require a win over Washington) and would have been better if Wake Forest was what Wake Forest used to be. But going by the "play the hand you’re dealt" adage, Seton Hall is holding a pair of 3s at best.

SOUTH FLORIDA

Toughest: at Oklahoma State (Dec. 5)
Next-toughest: UCF (Nov. 10), George Mason (Dec. 29), at UCF (Jan. 2)
The rest: Maryland-Eastern Shore (Nov. 16), Loyola-Chicago (Nov. 17), Western Michigan (Nov. 18), Bradley (Nov. 20), at Stetson (Nov. 26), Youngstown State (Dec. 18), Bowling Green (Dec. 21)
Toughness scale: 3 -- The Bulls had to fight and pray to make it into the NCAA tournament a season ago, a serious bubble team until the Big East tournament. This schedule won’t do much to make March easier should USF be successful again. There’s just enough here to turn the committee’s head, so it will be up to the Big East slate to make South Florida viable.

SYRACUSE

Toughest: vs. San Diego State (Nov. 9 at Battle of the Midway), vs. Temple (Dec. 22 in NYC)
Next-toughest: Princeton (Nov. 21), at Arkansas (Nov. 30), Long Beach State (Dec. 6), Detroit (Dec. 17)
The rest: Wagner (Nov. 18), Colgate (Nov. 25), Eastern Michigan (Dec. 3), Monmouth (Dec. 8), Canisius (Dec. 15), Alcorn State (Dec. 29), Central Connecticut State (Dec. 31)
Toughness scale: 6 -- I’m done with arguing the merits of Jim Boeheim’s schedule because he always wins. He wins games, lots of them, and he wins the argument, quieting the scheduling critics (present company included) with deep March runs. This isn’t awful, but it’s not saliva-inducing wonderful either. So what? It will work. Just watch.

VILLANOVA

Toughest: 2K Sports Classic (Nov. 15-16), Temple (Dec. 5)
Next-toughest: Marshall (Nov. 11), at Vanderbilt (Dec. 1), Saint Joseph’s (Dec. 11)
The rest: Columbia (Nov. 20), at La Salle (Nov. 25), at Penn (Dec. 8), Delaware (Dec. 16), at Monmouth (Dec. 22), NJIT (Dec. 28)
Toughness scale: 4 -- The 2K Sports Classic, with Purdue as the opener and either Alabama and Oregon State in the second game, raises the bar slightly and the chronically hard-to-win Big 5 games help, too, especially now that some of those teams have life again. But this is by no means the most menacing schedule Jay Wright has ever concocted for his team. Which might be wise. The Wildcats, remember, were not exactly the most menacing team a season ago.

Notre Dame to join ACC

September, 12, 2012
9/12/12
2:41
PM CT

Notre Dame will join the ACC as a full member with the exception of football, but will play five football games annually against ACC teams, the league announced Wednesday morning.

The Irish are currently Big East members in all sports but football. But instability in that league has left the Big East radically different than when Notre Dame first joined.

"We are committed to keeping the Atlantic Coast Conference a vibrant and competitive league dedicated to ensuring the appropriate balance of academics, athletics and integrity," the ACC Council of Presidents said in a joint statement. "The addition of Notre Dame further strengthens the rich tradition and culture of the ACC as well as allowing for future academic collaboration and we enthusiastically welcome them into the league."

ACC commissioner John Swofford said, "The ACC was founded on the cornerstones of balancing academics, athletics and integrity. Our partnership with Notre Dame only strengthens this long-standing commitment. Notre Dame enhances the league’s unique blend of public and private institutions that are international in scope. The collective alumni and fan bases cover the entire country with exceptionally strong roots up and down the Atlantic Coast. This is a terrific milestone in the evolution of the ACC and showcases tremendous solidarity and vision by our Council of Presidents."

It had been speculated that Notre Dame would look for another home for its Olympic sports after Pitt, West Virginia and Syracuse left the Big East last year. Pitt and Syracuse will join the ACC in 2013, following in the footsteps of former Big East members Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College.

The Big East, meanwhile, has added eight new members and will have 12 schools competing in the league in 2013.

"We have monitored the changing conference landscape for many months and have concluded that moving to the ACC is the best course of action for us," Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said in a statement. "We are able to maintain our historic independence in football, join in the ACC's non-BCS bowl package, and provide a new and extremely competitive home for our other sports."

The Council of Presidents also voted to increase the conference exit fee to three times the league's annual operating budget. Currently this would equate to an exit fee of more than $50 million.

50 in 50 rankings: No. 29 Notre Dame

August, 22, 2012
8/22/12
10:30
AM CT
Editor's note: Using a point system devised by the ESPN Stats & Information department, ESPN.com is counting down the 50 most successful programs of the past 50 years. A running list of the top 50 can be found here. For an explanation of the scoring system, read our intro.

29. Notre Dame (237 points)

Positives: Made Final Four in 1978; 10 top-15 finishes in a dozen seasons from 1970-81; 16 consensus All-Americans; five top-10 picks.

Negatives: No conference titles of any kind since joining Big East for 1995-96 season; haven't advanced past Sweet 16 since 1979; six losing seasons from 1991-99.

Fun fact: In our ranking system, Notre Dame was tied for the 16th-best program when Digger Phelps was head coach from 1972-91 (20 seasons).

Rank by the decade
1962-69: 11 (70th)
1970-79: 117 (7th)
1980-89: 60 (32nd)
1990-99: -6 (T-253rd)
2000-present: 55 (T-48th)

50 in 50 starting five (1962-present)
G – David Rivers (1984-88)
G – Austin Carr (1968-71)
F – Adrian Dantley (1973-76)
F – Troy Murphy (1998-2001)
F/C – John Shumate (1972-74)

SportsNation

Which is Notre Dame's best team of the past 50 years?

  •  
    18%
  •  
    65%
  •  
    17%

Discuss (Total votes: 3,641)

Top options off the bench
Luke Harangody (2006-10)
LaPhonso Ellis (1988-92)
Pat Garrity (1994-98)

50 in 50 coach: Digger Phelps

Best teams (1962-present)
1973-74 (26-3, NCAA Sweet 16)
1977-78 (23-8, NCAA national semifinals)
1978-79 (24-6, NCAA Elite Eight)

--Harold Shelton and Brett Edgerton contributed to this post.

50 in 50 rankings: No. 45 DePaul

August, 21, 2012
8/21/12
10:15
AM CT
Editor's note: Using a point system devised by the ESPN Stats & Information department, ESPN.com is counting down the 50 most successful programs of the past 50 years. A running list of the top 50 can be found here. For an explanation of the scoring system, read our intro.

45. DePaul (189 points)

Positives: Made 1979 Final Four; eighth most points from 1973 to 1982; three first-team consensus All-Americans and three top-10 picks.

Negatives: Lost eight points due to sanctions and vacated wins; hasn't gained points in any season since 2005, just two NCAA tournament appearances in the past 20 seasons.

Did you know? DePaul finished in the top six in the AP poll seven times from 1978 to 1987.

Rank by the decade
1962-69: 21 (T-47th)
1970-79: 58 (T-24th)
1980-89: 113 (10th)
1990-99: 5 (144th)
2000-present: -8 (T-245th)

50 in 50 starting five (1962-present)
G – Rod Strickland (1985-88)
G/F – Mark Aguirre (1978-81)
F – David Booth (1988-92)
F – Dallas Comegys (1983-87)
C – Dave Corzine (1974-78)

SportsNation

Which is DePaul's best team of the past 50 years?

  •  
    16%
  •  
    71%
  •  
    13%

Discuss (Total votes: 3,329)

Top options off the bench
Tom Kleinschmidt (1991-95)
Quentin Richardson (1998-2000)
Stanley Brundy (1985-89)

50 in 50 coach: Ray Meyer (1942-84)

Best teams (1962-present)
1977-78 (27-3, NCAA Elite Eight)
1978-79 (26-6, NCAA national semifinals)
1986-87 (28-3, NCAA Sweet 16)

--Harold Shelton and Brett Edgerton contributed to this post.

Bracket reveal: Maui Invitational

July, 26, 2012
7/26/12
11:09
AM CT
Tournament bracket for the EA SPORTS Maui Invitational

When and where: Nov. 19-21 at Lahaina Civic Center in Maui, Hawaii

Initial thoughts: This year marks the 30th anniversary of what many consider the greatest upset in college basketball history -- when tiny Chaminade, then an NAIA school, upset Ralph Sampson’s top-ranked Virginia team on Dec. 23, 1982. The stunning upset (in what was supposed to be an easy stopover game for the Cavaliers, on their way home from Tokyo) spurred creation of the Maui Classic, now known as the EA Sports Maui Invitational. Chaminade, now a Division II school, still serves as host, and it will be interesting to see if there is a surprise or two this season. After all, North Carolina will still be rejiggering its lineup after losing four starters to the NBA draft; Texas has to figure out how to replace J’Covan Brown’s 20.1 ppg; and Marquette will still be looking to see which members of last season’s supporting cast will step up and stand out without Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom.

[+] EnlargeMyck Kabongo
Brendan Maloney/US PresswireSophomore point guard Myck Kabongo will direct a talented group of freshmen at Texas.
Meanwhile, Illinois (John Groce) and Mississippi State (Rick Ray) will be breaking in new coaches; USC’s Kevin O’Neill will be melding a passel of new players (including a couple of transfers and a couple of guys sidelined by injuries last season); and Butler will be trying to prove it can shoot the ball a whole lot better than 2011-12 (28 percent on 3-pointers). Chaminade, by the way, holds an all-time record of 6-76 in this tournament.

Matchup I can’t wait to see: Illinois-USC could be interesting just because everything is so new. After losing 12 of its final 14 games, Illinois fired Bruce Weber and replaced him with Groce, who led Ohio to the Sweet 16 in March. USC is also coming off a bad season, having won only one conference game. But a couple of transfers from Wake Forest (Ari Stewart and J.T. Terrell) and a high-scoring forward from UC Irvine (Eric Wise), plus the return of point guard Jio Fontan and center Dewayne Dedmon from knee injuries, have folks wondering if the Trojans can bounce back all the way to March.

Potential matchup I’d like to see: UNC-Texas. Granted, these two are scheduled to play in Austin on Dec. 19, but why not a preview in paradise? The title game would feature a bunch of rookie big men -- Joel James and Brice Johnson for UNC; Cameron Ridley, Prince Ibeh and Connor Lammert for Texas -- with a chance to make a big impact.

Five players to watch

Vander Blue, Marquette: It’s hard to get a whole lot of attention when you’re in a starting lineup with guys like Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom. But now that they’ve gone to the NBA, the Golden Eagles need the junior to improve upon his 8.4 points and 4.4 rebounds from last season.

Rotnei Clarke, Butler: The Bulldogs are hoping the senior guard -- who sat out last season per NCAA transfer rules -- will add some accuracy from outside. He averaged 15.2 points and made 43.8 percent of his 3-pointers during his junior season at Arkansas before opting out. Butler made fewer than 30 percent of its 3-point shots last season.

Myck Kabongo, Texas: The Longhorns bring in a deep recruiting class, led by heralded center Cameron Ridley. But they’ll need Kabongo, a sophomore point guard, to get him the ball. And to be a strong leader to the newbies.

Marcus Paige, North Carolina: Whether the freshman point guard begins the season as a starter probably depends on how well senior Dexter Strickland has recuperated from February ACL surgery. Either way, the Iowa product (who also had foot surgery during the offseason) will be counted on to contribute quickly. And a lot.

J.T. Terrell, USC: Trojans coach Kevin O’Neill is excited about the addition of Terrell, and the 6-3 guard will get a chance to show why. He averaged 11.1 points and 1.6 assists at Wake Forest in 2010-11, but played at Peninsula College in Washington last season. Terrell withdrew from Wake after he was arrested last September and charged with driving while impaired.

Title-game prediction

North Carolina over Texas. The Tar Heels preceded their last two national championships by winning the Maui Invitational. And although they don’t have that caliber of a team this season, they do have some talented returning veterans (Dexter Strickland, Leslie McDonald, Reggie Bullock) already out to prove they are being overlooked.

Who others are picking:

Eamonn Brennan: Butler over Texas
Andy Katz: North Carolina over Texas
Jason King: North Carolina over Texas
Myron Medcalf: North Carolina over Texas
Dana O'Neil: North Carolina over Texas

Mike Brey, ND reach new deal

June, 18, 2012
6/18/12
10:40
PM CT
Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said Monday night that he has agreed to a new 10-year contract with the Fighting Irish.

Brey and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick will speak on the matter at a news conference Tuesday at 11 a.m. in South Bend, Ind.

Read the entire story.
The DePaul-Marquette rivalry got even more interesting Monday as Marquette named former DePaul head coach Jerry Wainwright as its director of basketball operations.

Wainwright spent 4 ˝ seasons at DePaul and compiled a 59-80 overall and 20-51 Big East record before being fired by the Blue Demons on Jan. 11, 2010.

“We are very grateful to add coach Wainwright as the final member of our staff,” Marquette coach Buzz Williams said in a statement. “I have known coach since early in my career and have always been humbled by his willingness to share wisdom with me as I have advanced.

“I never knew as we were building our relationship, that an opportunity like this would ever materialize, but I am very grateful that it has. His wealth of knowledge and experiences will help everyone in our program on one level or another.”

Wainwright spent the 2011-12 season as Fresno State's associate head coach.

Wainwright is originally from Berwyn, Ill. and coached early in his career at East Leyden High School and Highland Park High School in the Chicago suburbs.

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