Chicago Colleges: DePaul Blue Demons

Aaron Simpson signs with DePaul

April, 18, 2014
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CHICAGO -- Former Chicago high school star Aaron Simpson has signed a letter of intent to play at DePaul next season.

A 5-foot-11 guard, Simpson played two years of junior college at Lincoln College after a standout career at North Chicago High School.

As a high school senior, he was the state's leading scorer and finished third in the Illinois Mr. Basketball voting behind Jabari Parker of Simeon and Proviso East's Keith Carter. He averaged 26.2 points and led the Warhawks to a runner-up finish in the Class 3A state tournament.

DePaul announced the signing on Thursday.

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

June, 17, 2013
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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.

Myke Henry switching to DePaul

June, 9, 2013
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Former Illinois forward Myke Henry said Saturday he is transferring to DePaul.

Henry, a 6-foot-6, 230-pound forward, averaged 3.2 points and 10.6 minutes in 35 games during his sophomore season at Illinois last year. He will sit out next season and have two years of eligibility remaining per NCAA rules.

“I really like what they have to offer me,” Henry wrote in a text. “I like the style of play that the coaches run. I like it because it's a new start for me, and I think I can really help them get this thing off the ground.”

Read the entire story.

Wirtz: UC plan for DePaul was 'fair deal'

May, 31, 2013
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Rocky Wirtz knows the allure of public money was too much to pass up for DePaul in its search for a new basketball arena, but the Chicago Blackhawks owner believes the United Center would have been a good home for the Blue Demons.

In November, DePaul was offered 10 years rent-free to play at the United Center, which is owned by Wirtz's Blackhawks and the Chicago Bulls. The school rejected that offer in March and on May 16 Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel announced plans for a $173 million, 10,000-seat arena across the street from McCormick Place. DePaul will pay rent at the building but will retain naming rights and permanent internal and external signage space.

"It's hard to go against public financing," Wirtz said Friday on "The Carmen & Jurko Show" on ESPN Chicago 1000. "We did it the old-fashioned way, Jerry Reinsdorf and our family, we used our own dough. What we were trying to do with DePaul, we thought it was a very fair deal. I don't know how you can get a better deal than free. We were certainly going to help them market their sport. We thought it would be great for recruiting on the West Side.

"We've spent over $2 million in wi-fi in the buiding and those are things you will not get in a publicly financed building. A building is generally never as good as the moment it's opened so over 10 years you're not going to put money back into it because that's not part of their budget. But with all due respect to DePaul, they knew what they wanted to do. They thought it was better for them to be in a building that they could have more events, more time even though they are going to be spending more in rent."

DePaul, which has been playing at Allstate Arena since 1980, will contribute $70 million toward the arena, scheduled to open in time for the 2016-17 season.

Wirtz said scheduling conflicts with the Bulls and Blackhawks were a concern for DePaul, but efforts were made to address them.

"The great thing about the United Center is it's a sports building that also can do concerts so it's a loud building," Wirtz said. "We can bring that building down to 7,500 seats, you can cover the seats, and still make it very loud. "

Source: Marcius to transfer to DePaul

May, 17, 2013
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Purdue redshirt junior power forward Sandi Marcius will transfer to DePaul, according to a source.

Marcius, a 6-foot-9, 268-pound forward, also considered transferring to Nevada. He will pursue a graduate degree unavailable at Purdue and will be eligible next season.

Marcius played in 29 games, made five starts and averaged 3.3 points, 2.5 rebounds and 9.3 minutes for Purdue last season. He led the Boilermakers in blocks in six games and in rebounds once. He had a career-high 13 points against Michigan.

Marcius is the sixth player to be added to DePaul's roster for next season. He joins Morgan Park (Chicago) senior point guard Billy Garrett Jr., IMG Academy (Fla.) senior center Thomas Hamilton Jr., South Plains College (Texas) sophomore center Forrest Robinson, Citrus Junior College (Calif.) sophomore power forward Greg Sequele and Oak Hill Academy (Va.) senior guard R.J. Curington.

DePaul announced in April that junior forward Moses Morgan, sophomore center Derrell Robertson Jr. freshman forward Jodan Price and redshirt freshman forward Montray Clemons were leaving the program.

DePaul clear winner in arena deal

May, 17, 2013
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CHICAGO -- DePaul University doesn't have an arena problem. It has a men's basketball problem.

A long-term deteriorating identity issue borne out of questionable leadership, vision and performance. And yes, the arena by the airport is a major part of it.

If you're into symbolism, playing at Allstate Arena is emblematic of DePaul's stature in the city since moving to the Big East in 2005. Out of sight, out of mind.

The arena story has defined DePaul in the past 10 years as the school has fumbled coaching hires and frittered away any hold it had on the prodigious amount of local basketball talent.

Now seemingly the issue has been resolved thanks to a business-friendly mayor and his agenda.

Read the entire story.

Four players to transfer from DePaul

April, 9, 2013
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DePaul announced Tuesday junior forward Moses Morgan, sophomore center Derrell Robertson Jr. freshman forward Jodan Price and redshirt freshman forward Montray Clemons were given their releases to transfer after the spring quarter.

"We appreciate the efforts of these four players," DePaul coach Oliver Purnell said in a statement. "We support their decisions to look for other opportunities."

Morgan, a 6-foot-6 forward, played in 29 games, including three starts, and averaged 5.9 points, 2.3 rebounds and 18.9 minutes as a junior. He made a team-high 32 3-pointers last season.

Robertson Jr., a 6-foot-10 center, played in 32 games, including two starts, and averaged 1.9 points, 2.6 rebounds and 13 minutes as a sophomore.

Price, a 6-foot-7 swingman, played in eight games and averaged 2.4 minutes as a freshman. Clemons, a 6-foot-7 forward, played in 19 games and averaged 1.3 points, 1.1 rebounds and five minutes as a freshman.

The Blue Demons have three players signed and one committed for next season. Morgan Park (Chicago) senior point guard Billy Garrett Jr., who is ranked No. 90 in ESPN's Class of 2013, South Plains College (Texas) sophomore center Forrest Robinson and Citrus Junior College (Calif.) sophomore power forward Greg Sequele are signed. Oak Hill Academy (Va.) senior guard R.J. Curington committed to DePaul in January.

DePaul went 11-21 overall and 2-16 in the Big East last season in Purnell's third season with the program.

BU's Simms-Edwards going on defensive

January, 10, 2013
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Bradley senior Dyricus Simms-Edwards got a good taste of basketball thievery at the start of the season and he’s been obsessed with it ever since.

“Even in a game, I get mad if I juggle the ball and don’t get a steal,” Simms-Edwards said.

Simms-Edwards has had plenty of games with two, three, four or five steals this year. He’s even had one of eight steals. Yet, none of them fill his craving.

“I just want to repeat it,” he said. “I just want to do it again. I want to top it.

“It definitely drives me. I want to be considered one of the best defenders in the country. I just want to leave my mark when I leave Bradley. I’ve really been thinking about that this season.”

Simms-Edwards appears headed toward achieving that goal. He’s just eclipsed 1,000 points for his career. He’s averaging 3.38 steals, which is second in the country, and with 54 steals in 16 games is near pace to break the Missouri Valley single-season steals record of 96. Finally, Simms-Edwards has been a key piece in Bradley’s program returning to a respectable level.

“Dyricus is going about it the right way,” Bradley coach Geno Ford said. “He was here when the program was really down. He’s been a part of some bad basketball teams. In spite of that, he’s found a way. If he can finish the last half of the year as he’s played the first half of the year, people will remember him for being one of the best to ever play here.”

Simms-Edwards’ love for defense arrived late in his career. A year ago, Ford thought Simms-Edwards was actually a liability as a defender at times.

But at the start of this season, something clicked for Simms-Edwards. He started utilizing his wingspan and strength to begin snatching the ball from opponents, and he hasn’t stopped doing it.

Simms-Edwards had three steals against Michigan. He’s had four games of four steals, two games of five steals and he swiped a career-high eight steals against Drake.

“I didn’t dream he’d get this many steals,” Ford said. “We don’t press and we don’t get out and deny and gamble. For him to get that amount of steals, it’s remarkable what he’s done.”

Western Illinois rolling: Who from the state could be dancing come March and is currently the hottest team in Illinois?

It may be a surprise to some, but the answer is Western Illinois.

Building off last year’s run to the Summit Conference championship game and a CBI tournament appearance, the Leathernecks are 13-3 overall, 5-0 in conference and are currently riding a 10-game winning streak.

And it’s been defense that has put Western Illinois in such a favorable spot. The Leathernecks rank second in the country in defense, allowing 50.8 points a game. They’ve held four opponents to under 40 points and have only allowed one team more than 70 points.

“If you play defense in any sport, you have a chance to win,” said fifth-year coach Jim Molinari. “We really take pride in defending.”

Western Illinois’ effort has been led by seniors Ceola Clark and Terrell Parks. Clark is key to the top of the defense as the point guard, and Parks, a center, is the rim protector. They’ve combined for nearly three steals and three blocks per game.

Clark, who was a granted sixth year of eligibly this season due to multiple injuries in his career, has a special place in Molinari’s heart.

“I say this to people: for our system, I don’t think there’s a guard in the country I would rather have than Ceola Clark,” Molinari said. “I would think Jim Beilein would say the same thing about Trey Burke because they like to run up and down. Because we pack our defense and play a lot of ball-screen offense like we do, I wouldn’t want any other than Ceola Clark.”

UIC, Illinois State declining: Illinois State and UIC were two of the state’s most impressive programs during the non-conference season.

Illinois State looked like a potential NCAA tournament team with a 9-3 non-conference mark and respectable losses to Louisville, Northwestern and Wyoming. UIC opened the year 9-1 and knocked off Northwestern on the road.

As of late, both programs have looked just the opposite.

Illinois State has dropped its first four Missouri Valley games. On top of that, Redbirds coach Dan Muller suspended star guard Tyler Brown indefinitely Wednesday for conduct detrimental to the team.

As for UIC, the Flames have lost five of their last six games and are 1-2 in the Horizon League. Their defense has been the problem lately. They allowed only one opponent to score 70 points in their first 10 games. Four of their last six opponents have reached that mark.

ESPNChicago.com Player of the Week: DePaul junior guard Brandon Young is doing all he can to keep the Blue Demons competitive in the Big East. He’s averaged 21.7 points, four rebounds and four assists in DePaul’s three conference games. He scored a career-high 35 points in a loss to Connecticut on Tuesday.

ESPNChicago.com Team of the Week: Northern Illinois used a true team effort to snap a five-game losing streak and defeat Miami (Ohio) 72-61 on Wednesday. The Huskies had 11 players score in the win. Aksel Bolin had 11 points and five rebounds off the bench.

Coach: JUCO F Sequele commits to DePaul

November, 9, 2012
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Citrus junior college sophomore forward Greg Sequele has committed to DePaul, according to his college coach.

The 6-foot-9, 210-pound Sequele, who is from Sainte-Rose, Guadeloupe, chose the Blue Demons over Kansas State and USC.

"He was very comfortable with DePaul's staff, and we play a similar style," Citrus coach Chris Victor said on Friday. "We play a fast-paced style and we're aggressive on defense. He'll be playing the same way next year."

Victor touted Sequele's athleticism and his ability to play small forward and power forward.

"He's an extremely athletic 6-9 forward with an inside and outside game, very, very versatile," Victor said. "He'll be ready to go when he arrives at DePaul. Because of his athleticism, he's a playmaker on defense. He can make plays most people can't. He can also score in so many ways."

Sequele played his freshman college season at Southern Idaho, where he averaged 2.9 points and 2.1 rebounds and shot 58.1 percent from the field. He transferred to Citrus in California prior to this season.

Sequele originally committed to Washington State out of Ribet Academy in Los Angeles, but he didn't meet the eligibility requirements. He averaged 13 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks as a senior in high school. He was ranked the 52nd power forward in the country in the Class of 2011 by ESPN.

Sequele is DePaul's third Class of 2013 commitment. He joins Morgan Park (Chicago) senior point guard Billy Garrett and South Plains Junior College (Texas) sophomore center Forrest Robinson.

DePaul adds Texan center Forrest Robinson

October, 28, 2012
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South Plains Junior College sophomore center Forrest Robinson committed to DePaul on Sunday.

Robinson, a 6-foot-10, 230-pound center, chose DePaul over offers from Bradley, Mississippi State, Saint Louis and Tennessee Tech.

“It wasn’t one thing,” said Robinson, who visited the DePaul campus on Sunday. “Everything was great. I’m going to help the spread the floor. We’re going to play fast-paced, run the floor and have fun, my style of basketball.

“I see DePaul making a big run soon. In a year, maybe next year, DePaul will be a powerhouse.”

Robinson, who is from Ranger, Texas, played his first college season at North Texas and averaged 1.6 points and 1.2 points in 16 games.

He attended Eastland High School in Texas and averaged 21.4 points and 9.2 rebounds as a senior.

Robinson is DePaul’s second Class of 2013 recruit. He joins Morgan Park (Chicago) senior point guard Billy Garrett Jr.

DeJuan Marrero to miss season

October, 26, 2012
10/26/12
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CHICAGO -- DePaul freshman DeJuan Marrero will miss the season because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.

Read the entire story.

DePaul extends AD Jean Lenti Ponsetto

October, 23, 2012
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DePaul athletic director Jean Lenti Ponsetto signed a five-year contract extension, the school announced on Tuesday.

Ponsetto was hired as athletic director on July 1, 2002 and is now signed through the 2016-17 academic year.

“Jean Lenti Ponsetto is among the most respected athletics directors in the United States,” DePaul president Fr. Dennis H. Holtschneider said in a statement. “The NCAA, the BIG EAST and other athletic conferences turn to her constantly for advice and counsel. ESPN, CBS and other networks turn to her to understand developments in collegiate athletics and recently she received the Trailblazer Award by NACWAA from her peers.”

Ponsetto’s contributions to the school have included fundraising more than $13 million, creating 25 endowed scholarships and renaming McGrath-Phillips Arena. Fourteen of the 15 DePaul athletic programs have reached the NCAA championships during her tenure. DePaul also joined the Big East in 2005.

The school’s two most high-profile programs, the men’s and women’s basketball programs, have gone in different directions during Ponsetto’s tenure. The women’s program, which is coached by Doug Bruno, has been to 10 consecutive NCAA tournaments. The men’s program, which has been coached by Dave Leitao, Jerry Wainwright, Tracy Webster and, currently, Oliver Purnell, has been to one NCAA tournament since Ponsetto was hired.

More than 1,200 DePaul student-athletes have been named to the conference academic honor rolls during Ponsetto’s tenure. DePaul had a Big East-best five teams earn an Academic Excellence Award in the last two years.

Ponsetto is also former four-sport student-athlete and women’s basketball assistant coach at DePaul.

Duo confident DePaul can make big leap

October, 12, 2012
10/12/12
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DePaul juniors Cleveland Melvin and Brandon Young have had enough of being the Big East's punching bag the past two seasons.

[+] EnlargeBrandon Young, Kevin Jones, Cleveland Melvin
AP Photo/David SmithBrandon Young and Cleveland Melvin will try to lead DePaul out of the Big East doldrums in Year 3 of the Oliver Purnell era.
They get why they've struggled their first two years. They were the team's best players as freshmen and sophomores. Not only were they young, but they were also surrounded by other youthful players. Plus, they were still learning DePaul coach Oliver Purnell's aggressive style and adding the right pieces to fit his system.

Now in Year 3 of DePaul's rebuilding process, the duo plans for the Blue Demons to make a massive leap this season. They're no longer underclassmen, they have talent around them, and they understand what Purnell is trying to achieve.

So what does it add up to?

"I believe we can make the NCAA tournament," Young said. "We're going to shock a lot of people. A lot of people don't think we can turn this program around and win more games. It's easier to do it than say it. We can show people.

"We came a long way from our freshman year. We're more focused. We're under coach Purnell's system more. We're ready to get this going, win more games."

(Read full post)

The 10 worst nonconference schedules

October, 11, 2012
10/11/12
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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 blasÚ.

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
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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.

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