College Basketball Nation: Northeastern Huskies

1. Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart is having quite a summer and being rewarded for his service. His efforts will play well with the USA men's national team and ultimately earn him unlimited respect among NBA personnel decision makers. Smart decided to return for his sophomore season at Oklahoma State, turning down a lock to be a top five draft pick. Then, he was cool with being one of the contributors instead of the go-to player on the gold-medal winning FIBA U-19 USA team in Prague. Smart was then honored by being the only collegian chosen as part of the select team that will practice and scrimmage on display for national team coach Mike Krzyzewski and USA Basketball CEO Jerry Colangelo next week in Las Vegas. "It's a great opportunity for him to compete against the best,'' said Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford. "He will learn a lot on the court, but also away from the court. I'm excited he will be able to talk and get to know many of these great pros, pick their brains on what it's like to be in the NBA and what it takes to become a great pro.'' What's next for Smart? Well, he's got to lead Oklahoma State to a Big 12 title over Kansas and make a deep run toward a Final Four. No, actually he just has to continue being a high character winner for the Cowboys.

2. VCU and Northeastern are in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Classic but are on opposite brackets. VCU will host Northeastern on Nov. 29 in a "fourth" game as part of the tournament. But it allows the two schools to renew a CAA game that was worthy of attention when the two were in the same league. And if they were to play twice in the same season then what's wrong with that? The Las Vegas Invitational shouldn't have worried about UCLA and Missouri still playing against each other on Dec. 7 in Columbia. So what if they end up playing twice in the same season? The Invitational would have had more appeal if it were a true tournament format instead of set matchups of UCLA and Missouri playing Nevada and Northwestern. Creighton and Marquette are both in the Wooden Legacy and are in the same conference now (Big East). Marquette also had a scheduled game against Arizona State yet both are in the Wooden Legacy. Memphis and Oklahoma State are scheduled to play, yet both are in the Old Spice Classic -- on opposite sides of the bracket. UCLA and Missouri could have done this as well and run the risk/gamble/chance of playing twice for two quality games.

3. The USA World University Games team finished a disappointing ninth in Kazan, Russia, but the kinship of the staff clearly is going to have shelf life. Michigan coach John Beilein and South Carolina coach Frank Martin, who were assistants to Davidson's Bob McKillop, were quick to tweet out how much they enjoyed coaching together. Martin tweeted spending time with Beilein and McKillop was "unreal. They're brilliant basketball minds and better men. USC basketball just got better." Beilein tweeted, "I will always cherish my 24 days with this team and staff. Bob McKillop + Frank Martin and I have a bond now that will last forever. USA!!" This was Beilein's first time -- ever -- being an assistant. The sharing of ideas is what coaching should be about at any level and the best of USA basketball is when a staff can get along, discuss each other's strengths and improve each other's program.

ESPN.com's Colonial preview

October, 25, 2012
10/25/12
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Before we get to team-by-team previews for the Colonial Athletic Association, here is Dana O'Neil's team-by-team analysis of the nonconference schedules in the CAA. For in-depth previews of all 11 CAA teams, check out Blue Ribbon's breakdowns: Insider

Delaware
Drexel Insider Free
George Mason
Georgia State
Hofstra
James Madison
Northeastern
Old Dominion
Towson
UNC Wilmington
William & Mary

Nonconference schedule analysis: CAA

October, 9, 2012
10/09/12
4:50
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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 Big East and now it's off to the Colonial Athletic Association ...

DELAWARE

Toughest: NIT Season Tip-Off (Nov. 12-23), at Duke (Dec. 1)
Next-toughest: at Temple (Nov. 25), at Villanova (Dec. 16)
The rest: at Lafayette (Nov. 28), Radford (Dec. 4), Delaware State (Dec. 8), Penn (Dec. 21), Rider (Dec. 31)
Toughness scale: 8 -- Kudos to Monte Ross for giving a fairly veteran Blue Hens team a schedule to truly test its worth. Delaware is trying to make inroads in this tough league and the best way to do that is to play big-boy teams. If the Blue Hens can beat Penn in the NIT, they'll most likely play at Virginia with a chance to advance to Madison Square Garden for the NIT semifinals. It would be a huge spotlight for the program.

DREXEL

Toughest: Anaheim Classic (Nov. 22-25), Saint Joseph's (Dec. 31)
Next-toughest: at Kent State (Nov. 9), Illinois State (Nov. 15), at Princeton (Dec. 8 )
The rest: at Penn (Nov. 17), Rider (Dec. 1), Tennessee State (Dec. 4), Fairfield (Dec. 16), Davidson (Dec. 22)
Toughness scale: 3 -- Really? After missing out on the NCAA tournament last season because of their lack of nonconference schedule strength, this is the best the Dragons could come up with? For a team that should be favored to win this league? They'll open with tough Saint Mary's in Anaheim, but the field out there is just not that strong. Kind of like this schedule.

GEORGE MASON

Toughest: Virginia (Nov. 9), Paradise Jam (Nov. 16-19), vs. Maryland (Dec. 2 in Washington, D.C.), at South Florida (Dec. 29)
Next-toughest: at Bucknell (Nov. 13), Boston U (Nov. 24), Northern Iowa (Dec. 8), vs. Richmond (Dec. 22 at Richmond Coliseum)
The rest: at Rhode Island (Nov. 28), UMBC (Dec. 4)
Toughness scale: 8 -- This could get even better if the Patriots make their way through the Paradise Jam and square off against UConn (the opener is against A-Sun favorite Mercer). As it is, it’s pretty darned good anyway, what with the likes of the three big six tourney contenders at the top and some decent mid-majors filling out the middle.

GEORGIA STATE

Toughest: at Duke (Nov. 9), at BYU (Nov. 13)
Next-toughest: Southern Miss (Dec. 18), at Rhode Island (Dec. 22)
The rest: Monmouth (Nov. 19), Tennessee State (Nov. 20), South Alabama (Nov. 21), East Carolina (Nov. 26), Louisiana Tech (Nov. 30), at Liberty (Dec. 2), Southern Poly (Dec. 8), at Troy (Dec. 15), at Georgia Southern (Dec. 29)
Toughness scale: 7 -- Ron Hunter didn’t take long to put his stamp on the Georgia State program, leading the Panthers to the second-most wins in school history. This team might have a hard time matching that number with a schedule like this (opening at two of the toughest places to play in the country), but recognizing the value of playing people for a mid-major, Hunter built a good foundation for the Panthers this season with this nonconference slate.

HOFSTRA

Toughest: at Purdue (Nov. 11)
Next-toughest: Marshall (Nov. 18), at LIU-Brooklyn (Dec. 8 )
The rest: at Monmouth (Nov. 9), District of Columbia (Nov. 17), at Manhattan (Nov. 21), at George Washington (Nov. 24), SMU (Dec. 1), Wagner (Dec. 4), Wright State (Dec. 15), vs. Tulane (Dec. 22 in Brooklyn, N.Y.), at Florida Atlantic (Jan. 1)
Toughness scale: 4 -- Mo Cassara is trying to get things back on track at Hofstra and has a fairly young roster, so a little wiggle room is understandable. Still, for a team that has its share of talent to call on in the form of Jamal Coombs-McDaniel and Taran Buie (who were suspended for the first two games of the season), you’d kind of hope for and expect more.

JAMES MADISON

Toughest: at UCLA (Nov. 15)
Next-toughest: Richmond (Dec. 8), at Miami (Ohio) (Nov. 24)
The rest: at Duquesne (Nov. 19), vs. Youngstown State (Nov. 20 in Pittsburgh), vs. North Dakota State (Nov. 21 in Pittsburgh), George Washington (Nov. 28), Winthrop (Dec. 1), East Tennessee State (Dec. 5), UNC-Greensboro (Dec. 16), vs. San Jose State (Dec. 22 in Las Vegas), vs. San Diego (Dec. 23 in Las Vegas), at Hampton (Jan. 7)
Toughness scale: 7 -- Nothing like two cross-country trips from Harrisonburg, Va., to make life fun, especially when one includes a stop in Westwood. There are some opportunities here for a roster that includes three returning starters -- and getting Richmond and GW at home is nice.

NORTHEASTERN

Toughest: at Princeton (Nov. 13), Massachusetts (Dec. 4)
Next-toughest: Boston U (Nov. 9), Great Alaska Shootout (Nov. 21-24), La Salle (Dec. 8), UNC Asheville (Dec. 18)
The rest: Vermont (Nov. 17), Maine (Nov. 28), at Central Connecticut State (Dec. 21), at UAB (Dec. 29)
Toughness scale: 3 -- Besides home games against A-10 sleepers UMass and La Salle, not much here to get terribly excited about, not when the rest of the league is putting some name-brand games on the schedule. Maybe a second-round game against Belmont in Anchorage?

OLD DOMINION

Toughest: at Murray State (Nov. 24), VCU (Dec. 7), vs. Virginia (Dec. 22 in Richmond)
Next-toughest: at Cleveland State (Nov. 17), Richmond (Dec. 4), UCF (Dec. 14), at Charleston (Dec. 18)
The rest: Holy Cross (Nov. 10), UTSA (Nov. 11), VMI (Nov. 21), Fairfield (Dec. 29)
Toughness scale: 7 -- In his last go-round in the CAA, Blaine Taylor has a good schedule that is both meaty and winnable, the perfect combination of games that might catch the committee’s eyes but aren’t impossible mountains for his team to climb.

TOWSON
Toughest: at Georgetown (Dec. 8), at Temple (Dec. 12), at Oregon State (Dec. 29)
Next-toughest: at Charleston (Nov. 9), at Vermont (Dec. 5)
The rest: vs. Radford (Nov. 16 in Richmond, Ky.), at Eastern Kentucky (Nov. 17), vs. Kennesaw State (Nov. 18 in Richmond, Ky.), vs. Cincinnati Christian (Nov. 19 in Richmond, Ky.), at UMBC (Dec. 1), North Dakota State (Dec. 15), Coppin State (Dec. 19)
Toughness scale: 5 -- After the Tigers finished 1-31 a season ago (the one win came in conference play), there are plenty of games you can go ahead and put in the L column, including those toughies on the road in December. But Towson should be improved enough -- and a few opponents bad enough -- that a repeat of the one-win nightmare is highly unlikely.

UNC-WILMINGTON

Toughest: at Ohio (Nov. 16), at Purdue (Nov. 21), at Davidson (Dec. 15)
Next-toughest: UNC Asheville (Nov. 11), at Richmond (Nov. 13), at Marshall (Dec. 1), at Georgia Tech (Dec. 8 )
The rest: Wofford (Nov. 24), Hampton (Nov. 25), Coker (Dec. 5), UNC-Greensboro (Dec. 19), at Campbell (Dec. 29)
Toughness scale: 6 -- Buzz Peterson still has work to do in Wilmington, so a schedule that doesn’t kill his team makes sense. But Coker? Really? That said, there's quite a road gantlet here -- one that includes stops at Purdue, Ohio, Davidson, Richmond, Marshall and Georgia Tech. That should be fun.

WILLIAM & MARY

Toughest: at Purdue (Dec. 29), at Vanderbilt (Jan. 2)
Next-toughest: at Wake Forest (Nov. 23), at Richmond (Nov. 28)
The rest: Hampton (Nov. 9), at Liberty (Nov. 12), at High Point (Nov. 17), Miami (Ohio) (Nov. 21), Howard (Dec. 6), at Radford (Dec. 8), Salisbury (Dec. 21)
Toughness scale: 4 -- This is the all-name schedule. Purdue, Vanderbilt and Wake Forest have the national recognition, but none of them will exactly be at their best this season -- although each will be heavily favored over the Tribe. For a program that has struggled so much lately, though, there are some winnable confidence-builders mixed in.
1. NC State coach Mark Gottfried said he learned his team is one player short on the Wolfpack's trip to Spain. That player is Rodney Purvis. He's still being held out as his eligibility is being checked from his high school, Upper Room Christian Academy, by the NCAA Eligibility Center. (According to Raleigh media reports, Purvis was allowed to attend classes this week but still not eligible.) Gottfried said he can't replace the experience that was lost on last season's Sweet 16 team. But the potential is there for a solid season (NC State and or North Carolina will likely be picked to win the ACC). Purvis is one of the three highest profile incoming freshmen still not cleared to play this season. He probably rates second on most important overall behind UCLA's Shabazz Muhammad and ahead of Providence's Ricky Ledo. The Wolfpack need Purvis' ability to score but can live without him if need be due to the overall depth and talent returning and arriving. The Bruins need Muhammad's motor and skill set to overtake Arizona and Stanford in the Pac-12 and be a legit player in the Final Four chase. Muhammad is being held out from UCLA's trip to China as the NCAA examines potential extra benefits by a third party. Ledo was a reach to be academically eligible at PC after attending multiple high schools. Coach Ed Cooley knew this from the moment he signed him. The Friars are a lower level Big East team this season so Ledo's arrival wouldn't change the outcome much at all.

2. Northeastern coach Bill Coen may win the award for stuffing the most games and adding the most intensity to a foreign trip among the 60 schools taking the sojourns this month. The Huskies are in the midst of a seven-game trip to Canada Tuesday. Northeastern was 4-0 through Monday's game. Most schools will play a max of five games on these trips. Rarely does a school go for seven in less than 10 days on the road. The Huskies should be an upper division team in the CAA this season, especially with the departure of VCU and with the ineligibility of Old Dominion (and Georgia State, Towson and UNC Wilmington) for the conference tournament. The Huskies are a legit contender to challenge Drexel in the seven-team conference tourney in March.

3. Dan Leibovitz told me for years about the basketball mind of Mike Dunlap. He was a loyal disciple of Dunlap like he was of his first and true mentor John Chaney. Well, that loyalty came full circle for Leibovitz when the new Charlotte Bobcats coach tabbed Leibovitz to be a player development coach for the Bobcats. Leibovitz's departure from Penn coach Jerome Allen's staff leaves a significant void. Leibovitz, a former Hartford head coach, was a longtime assistant to Chaney (and essentially ran the day-to-day operations of the program in the final few seasons of Chaney's tenure) and helped Allen with an experienced bench and recruiting coach. Leibovitz was a sound hire by Dunlap. He is a coach who doesn't make too many sudden moves. Dunlap is methodical in his approach to the game and he has surrounded himself with a complimentary piece in Leibovitz.
1. The Colonial Athletic Association will meet June 1-2 in Hilton Head, S.C., and the site of the 2013 tournament is expected to be a hot topic. Drexel coach Bruiser Flint said he could see the tournament moving to Baltimore, out of Virginia Commonwealth's home base in Richmond. The problem is that a school like Towson would have to support the event. The CAA is going to have an odd year in 2013 now that VCU is gone to the Atlantic 10, Georgia State is ineligible to play in the tourney since it’s leaving for the Sun Belt and Towson and UNC-Wilmington aren’t eligible due to poor APR scores. That leaves eight schools available for the tourney. The elite of Drexel, Old Dominion and George Mason (as well as possibly Northeastern) should all be near the top of the league.

2. The A-10 will find out that a school like VCU has the size and strength to bump the league up a perceived level immediately. The Rams will be an instant competitor for the A-10 title in year one. Don’t be surprised to see VCU and Butler in the thick of the race for the championship in 2014, too. One of the big winners is the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The A-10 made the prudent move to Brooklyn instead of Atlantic City. Having a tournament with Xavier, VCU and Butler as the headline teams will be a draw. If Saint Joseph’s, UMass, Dayton and others in the area can be factors, the buzz for the event will only increase.

3. Murray State coach Steve Prohm is deciding about which tournament the coveted Racers will play in next season. He’s going back and forth on whether to be in the NIT Season Tip-Off pod at Kansas State (the other three hosts are Virginia, Pitt and Michigan) or become the eighth team at the Charleston (S.C.) Classic. The seven teams signed up for the Nov. 15-18 event are: Baylor, Boston College, Charleston, Colorado, Dayton, St. John’s and Southern Illinois. It’s a tough call for Prohm. He could gamble and go to Manhattan, Kan., to try to get to New York or go to Charleston, where he’s likely to get at least two games against possible NCAA teams.

Behind the box scores: Saturday edition

January, 22, 2012
1/22/12
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A scan of the box scores always reveals statistical oddities and under-the-radar performances. Here are some we found from Saturday's games:

Kansas 69, Texas 66
Texas guard J'Covan Brown shot 7-of-26 (27 percent) from the field after going 8-of-28 (29 percent) in his previous outing. This season, 18 different players have taken at least 26 shots in a game, but Brown is the first to do it twice. He's also had the two worst shooting performances of those players.

West Virginia 77, Cincinnati 74
Darryl "Truck" Bryant missed as many field goals (14) in 44 minutes as the rest of the West Virginia's starters missed in 131 minutes played.

Jackson State 80, Grambling State 67
Jackson State went 23-of-23 from the foul line in the victory. That's the most made free throws without a miss by any team this season.

Florida A&M 68, Maryland-Eastern Shore 63
UMES collected 35 offensive rebounds while making only 23 field goals. That's the most offensive rebounds by a team in a loss this season.

Missouri 89, Baylor 88
Baylor guard Pierre Jackson scored 20 points and handed out 15 assists in his first start of the season. He's the first player to reach those levels in a game since VCU's Joey Rodriguez (22 and 17) on Nov. 12, 2010.

Eastern Michigan 41, Toledo 38
The 41 points are the second-fewest scored by a winning team this season. Arkansas-Little Rock defeated Florida Atlantic 40-38 earlier this month.

Drexel 71, Northeastern 53
Northeastern's Quincy Ford missed all four of his field goal attempts but was 10-10 from the free throw line. He's just the second double-figure scorer this season to go perfect from the line while not making a field goal.

Pacific 64, UC Davis 48
UC Davis shot 50 percent from the 3-point line (9-18), but only 24 percent from 2-point range (7-29) in its 16-point loss.

Nevada 74, Fresno State 61
Trillion of the night: Patrick Nyeko of Nevada played 10 minutes without recording a stat in the Wolf Pack's 74-61 win.

Elsewhere around college basketball ... Jan. 18, 2003. That’s the last time Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Boeheim and Jim Calhoun all tasted defeat on the same day.

Saturday, it happened again, as No. 1 Syracuse fell on the road at Notre Dame, No. 4 Duke saw its 45-game home win streak snapped against Florida State and No. 11 Connecticut lost its second straight game and fourth of its last six.

The Orange falls after beginning 20-0, the best start to a season in Syracuse history. The loss leaves Murray State (20-0) as the only remaining undefeated team in Division I.

3-point shot: Ole Miss on upswing

December, 2, 2011
12/02/11
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1. Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy has had a hard time catching breaks since he arrived in Oxford. The Rebels have dealt with injuries, defections and early-entrants and an inability to be consistent enough to be an NCAA tournament team. Whether or not Ole Miss can get there in 2012 is still to be determined. But the Rebels finally closed out a game in a frenetic situation as they beat DePaul on the road on a Murphy Holloway layup. Holloway, who played at Ole Miss, transferred to South Carolina and then came back, had committed a silly foul the previous possession before coming up with a decisive steal and layup. The Rebels got blitzed by 30 by Marquette in the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands but did finish off Miami in overtime last week. DePaul may be in the bottom fourth of the Big East but the win will still do wonders for the Rebels’ confidence. “It’s the first road win versus a Big East opponent ever in Ole Miss basketball history,’’ said Kennedy late Thursday night of a random fact that seems hard to digest. “Sometimes you’ve got to win ugly.’’ The Rebels aren’t going to be better than Kentucky, Florida, Vanderbilt or likely Mississippi State or Alabama. But can Ole Miss be more productive than Tennessee or Arkansas or Auburn? This squad has a shot to be a top-six SEC team.

2. The Colonial Athletic Association has been disappointing through the first month of the season. Drexel (2-3) was the preseason favorite but the Dragons haven’t been completely healthy and don’t have a quality win. Other contenders like George Mason, VCU and Old Dominion have either not had their full complement of players or simply are rebuilding and aren’t ready to win elite games. The best win by the CAA so far may be Northeastern’s victory at St. John’s, hardly a NCAA-bound victory since the Red Storm are likely a lower-half Big East squad. “We don’t have that juggernaut team that stands out,’’ said ODU coach Blaine Taylor. “But once we get our people back, the same with Drexel, George Mason and you’ll see VCU play better than people will see how good the (CAA teams are). Our teams have been up and down that doesn’t mean in the long haul that we won’t have real good teams once we get to January and February.’’ The CAA had its second Final Four team in six seasons when VCU earned a bid last April.

3. The MAC last had multiple NCAA tournament teams in 1999 when Miami was a 10-seed and Kent State was an 11. The league once had a flurry of NBA-level-talented players who for whatever reason didn’t make it to the Big Ten. But the MAC slump has been going on for a dozen years. That is, possibly, until now. The MAC has already picked up significant wins: Akron at Mississippi State, Ohio at Marshall, Kent State at West Virginia, Miami and Buffalo beat Dayton (which won the Old Spice Classic). Bowling Green beat Temple. Will any of those wins get the MAC an at-large berth? Probably not. But the MAC is at least proving that it is no longer a weaker comparison to the Horizon League, the Missouri Valley or the Colonial.

ESPN.com's CAA preview

October, 26, 2011
10/26/11
1:07
PM ET
Before we get to the Blue Ribbon team-by-team previews for the Colonial Athletic Association, here is Eamonn Brennan's one-minute wind sprint through the league:


Blue Ribbon breakdowns of all 12 teams in the CAA:

Delaware
Drexel
George Mason
Georgia State
Hofstra
James Madison
Northeastern
Old Dominion InsiderFree
Towson
UNC Wilmington
VCU
William & Mary

More CAA content:
For the rest of the week, ESPN.com will be breaking down the nonconference schedules of each and every team in a dozen different leagues. On Tuesday, we began with the ACC, SEC and C-USA. On Wednesday, we continued with the Big East and the Atlantic 10 and now wrap up the day with the Colonial Athletic Association ...

DELAWARE

Toughest: at Villanova (Nov. 18), Temple (Dec. 30)
Next-toughest: at Boston U. (Nov. 30), La Salle (Dec. 19), BracketBusters (home)
The rest: at Radford (Nov. 11), Cornell (Nov. 22), Lafayette (Nov. 26), at Penn (Dec. 7), at Delaware State (Dec. 10), at Howard (Dec. 22)
Toughness scale (1-10): 7 -- The Blue Hens do have a pair of big challenges -- or, put more appropriately, big opportunities -- in the form of a trip to Villanova and a home game against Temple. The strength of those games alone is enough to nudge them above some of their other conference mates. But if those opportunities are lost, Delaware won't have many chances to impress.

DREXEL

Toughest: Paradise Jam (Nov. 18-21), Princeton (Dec. 10), Fairfield (Dec. 28)
Next-toughest: at Rider (Nov. 15), at Saint Joseph's (Nov. 30), at BracketBusters (road)
The rest: at Niagara (Dec. 13), Bradley (Dec. 17), at Binghamton (Dec. 22), St. Francis-Pa. (Dec. 31)
Toughness scale (1-10): 5 -- Much of this schedule's toughness will weigh on how far Drexel advances at the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands. If the Dragons can get past Norfolk State and Virginia/TCU in the second round, they could come up against a ranked Marquette team (or Ole Miss). If that game doesn't happen, at least Drexel has games against good mid-majors in Fairfield and Princeton. There's also a TBA road BracketBusters opportunity in February.

GEORGE MASON

Toughest: NIT Season Tip-Off (Nov. 14-25), at Virginia (Dec. 6)
Next-toughest: Rhode Island (Nov. 11), at Florida Atlantic (Nov. 19), Bucknell (Nov. 30), Duquesne (Dec. 21), at Charleston (Dec. 30), BracketBusters (home)
The rest: at Radford (Dec. 10), Manhattan (Dec. 23)
Toughness scale (1-10): 6 -- Credit the Patriots: They were able to convince some decent opponents, including Rhode Island and Duquesne, to come to Fairfax this season. But really, this schedule's main feature is the NIT Season Tip-Off -- which will pit Mason against Virginia Tech in Blacksburg assuming GMU can get past FIU and Tech beats Monmouth. If the Patriots survive that game and seeds hold, they would likely meet Syracuse in Madison Square Garden, followed by a game against probably either Stanford or Oklahoma State. Regardless of what happens, getting the state's two bellweather schools -- UVa and Va Tech -- on the schedule is extremely meaningful to Mason fans.

GEORGIA STATE

Toughest: at Washington (Nov. 12)
Next-toughest: vs. Portland in Seattle (Nov. 13), vs. Florida Atlantic in Seattle (Nov. 14), Rhode Island (Dec. 10), BracketBusters (home)
The rest: McNeese State (Nov. 18), at Samford (Nov. 22), Liberty (Nov. 26), at South Carolina State (Nov. 29), Florida International (Dec. 1), at Utah Valley State (Dec. 17), Georgia Southern (Dec. 22)
Toughness scale (1-10): 3 -- First-year coach Ron Hunter's regular-season debut comes at Washington in the Basketball Travelers Invitational. It's an arrangement so brutal it makes you want to grant the Panthers some measure of schedule clemency. After the trio of games in Seattle are done, though, the rest of Hunter's schedule isn't all that fearsome. But to be fair, this is a struggling CAA program with a new coach, scattered fan interest and a walk-up gym. Its schedule shouldn't be tough.

HOFSTRA

Toughest: at Oregon State (Nov. 16), at Rhode Island (Nov. 25), vs. Boston U. in Kingston, R.I. (Nov. 27), Iona (Dec. 29)
Next-toughest: Long Island (Nov. 11), vs. Cleveland State in Kingston, R.I. (Nov. 26), BracketBusters (home)
The rest: St. Francis-N.Y. (Nov. 19), Florida Atlantic (Nov. 22), at Wagner (Dec. 6), Manhattan (Dec. 10), Binghamton (Dec. 17), Colgate (Dec. 22)
Toughness scale (1-10): 4 -- Hofstra may get some so-so matchups out of the TicketCity Legends Classic, the "tournament" in which it travels to Oregon State on Nov. 16 and makes a three-day stand in Rhode Island late in the month. And the Beavers can be tough in Corvallis. But the rest of Hofstra's schedule -- and this is probably a good thing, given the loss of star Charles Jenkins to the NBA draft this summer -- offers little to get excited about, except for perhaps a home BracketBusters matchup.

JAMES MADISON

Toughest: Kent State (Dec. 6), UCF Holiday Classic (Dec. 29-30)
Next-toughest: at La Salle (Nov. 19), vs. Rider in Philadelphia (Nov. 25), at Penn (Nov. 26), at George Washington (Dec. 22), at East Tennessee State (Jan. 30), at BracketBusters (road)
The rest: Canisius (Nov. 13), Robert Morris (Nov. 22), The Citadel (Dec. 19), Hampton (Jan. 9)
Toughness scale (1-10): 5 -- Make no mistake, this is hardly a murderers' row of opponents. What is it? A decent-but-hardly-great assemblage of games against decent-but-hardly-great squads. La Salle, Robert Morris, Rider, Kent State, George Washington -- none of these is a marquee opponent, but taken together, JMU's schedule doesn't look so bad. And down in Orlando, Fla., the Dukes will face Rhode Island and possibly homestanding UCF in the second game.

NORTH CAROLINA-WILMINGTON

Toughest: at Maryland (Nov. 13), at Dayton (Nov. 19)
Next-toughest: Marshall (Nov. 22), at Wake Forest (Dec. 21)
The rest: Davidson (Nov. 26), at Toledo (Nov. 30), at Illinois State (Dec. 3), at Liberty (Dec. 6), Campbell (Dec. 19), Furman (Dec. 30), at BracketBusters (road)
Toughness scale (1-10): 8 -- It's not really the opponents that make this schedule tough. It's the travel. Wilmington opens on the road at Maryland and follows it with a trip to Dayton. A sneaky tough Marshall team will be waiting for the Seahawks upon their return, and beginning on Nov. 30, UNCW will spend the next two weeks on the road (with a conference opener at VCU mixed in). That's a lot of road work, and it could result in some tough losses before the New Year arrives.

NORTHEASTERN

Toughest: at St. John's (Nov. 26), at NC State (Dec. 22)
Next-toughest: at Boston U. (Nov. 11), at La Salle (Nov. 30), Princeton (Dec. 18), at Vermont (Dec. 30), BracketBusters (home)
The rest: at UMass (Nov. 14), Southern Illinois (Nov. 19), at Bradley (Dec. 6), at Louisiana Tech (Dec. 20)
Toughness scale (1-10): 8 -- Similar to Wilmington, the opponents might not merit a high score, but the logistics do. Of the Huskies' 10 nonconference games, only two (Southern Illinois, Princeton) will be played at home (in addition to the February BracketBusters game). The rest require constant travel and hostile crowds and, yes, taking on some solid teams in big, unforgiving environments. Like, say, Madison Square Garden. Maybe you've heard of it?

OLD DOMINION

Toughest: Hall of Fame Tipoff (Nov. 19-20), at Richmond (Dec. 20), Missouri (Dec. 30)
Next-toughest: Northern Iowa (Nov. 12), Long Island (Nov. 14), at Fairfield (Dec. 9), at UCF (Dec. 17), at BracketBusters (road)
The rest: Howard (Nov. 16), Vermont (Nov. 23), East Carolina (Nov. 29), VMI (Dec. 22)
Toughness scale (1-10): 9 -- This might be the toughest schedule in the CAA this season, and it's tougher than it looks on first glance. The Hall of Fame tournament in Connecticut will begin with South Florida, and if that's a win, mighty Kentucky almost certainly awaits. Combine that tourney with the games at Richmond and Fairfield and home tilts with LIU, UNI and that huge opportunity with Missouri, and you get a schedule worthy of ODU's designs on consistent NCAA tournament competition.

TOWSON
Toughest: at Kansas (Nov. 11), at Michigan (Nov. 14), vs. Belmont in Murfreesboro, Tenn. (Nov. 19), at Virginia (Dec. 30)
Next-toughest: Oregon State (Nov. 26), at UMass (Nov. 30), at BracketBusters (road)
The rest: Virginia State (Nov. 6), vs. UNC Greensboro/Middle Tennessee in Murfreesoboro, Tenn. (Nov. 20), La Salle (Dec. 7), UMBC (Dec. 10), at Coppin State (Dec. 14), Manhattan (Dec. 20), Vermont (Dec. 23)
Toughness scale (1-10): 8 -- Towson's early November slate -- part of the qualifying rounds of the EA Sports Maui Invitational -- includes trips to Kansas, Michigan and Belmont, a three-game road stand you wouldn't wish on any team, let alone one that finished 4-26 last season. Ouch.

VIRGINIA COMMONWEALTH

Toughest: Charleston Classic (Nov. 17-20), at Alabama (Nov. 27), Richmond (Dec. 10)
Next-toughest: at Western Kentucky (Nov. 23), vs. George Washington in Washington, D.C.'s Verizon Center (Dec. 4), UAB (Dec. 20), at Akron (Dec. 29), BracketBusters (home)
The rest: Saint Francis-Pa. (Nov. 11), South Florida (Nov. 30), at UNC Greensboro (Dec. 22)
Toughness scale (1-10): 7 -- The road to another miraculous March run begins in earnest on Nov. 17, when VCU will face Seton Hall in the Charleston Classic. Depending on each team's performance, the Rams could face either Georgia Tech or Saint Joseph's in the second round, followed by a meeting with either LSU, Tulsa, Northwestern or Western Kentucky. That's not the most loaded tournament field of all time, but combined with VCU's other nonleague home tests (Richmond, UAB) and that trip to see former coach Anthony Grant at Alabama, it's a solid schedule overall.

WILLIAM & MARY

Toughest: at St. John's (Nov. 7), at Missouri (Dec. 18)
Next-toughest: Richmond (Nov. 30), Iona (Dec. 21), at BracketBusters (road)
The rest: at Hampton (Nov. 12), Liberty (Nov. 14), vs. Lehigh in Lynchburg, Va. (Nov. 18), vs. Eastern Kentucky in Lynchburg (Nov. 19), at Liberty (Nov. 20), at Howard (Nov. 26), Wesley College (Dec. 15), at Miami-Ohio (Dec. 29)
Toughness scale (1-10): 6 -- The Tribe get a bunch of their nonconference work from the 2K Sports Classic, in which they'll play St. John's and a handful of so-so opponents in Lynchburg, Va. There are other challenges here, as you can see, with a trip to Missouri looming especially large. The Tribe will have to make the most of their biggest games, especially those at home versus Richmond and Iona, to make waves in what could be another down season.

The numbers you need to know

January, 6, 2011
1/06/11
10:22
AM ET
An inside look at some of Wednesday's top performances:

1. Jimmer Fredette scored a season-high 39 points in BYU’s 89-77 win at UNLV. It’s the third-highest total of his career, and he now has the seven highest scoring games in the Mountain West over the past two seasons. It was Fredette’s fourth 30-point game this season, tying him with Xavier Silas of Northern Illinois for second-most in the nation behind UConn's Kemba Walker (5). Fredette (25.1 ppg) is now second in the nation in scoring behind Walker (26.1), who has played three fewer games.

2. It was quite a night for filling the stat sheet. Fredette added five assists and six rebounds for his third career 30-5-5 line, and he wasn’t the only one to do that on Wednesday. Duke’s Nolan Smith (33-5-7) and Hofstra’s Charles Jenkins (32-8-5) also put together 30-5-5 performances. Consider that there had only been 10 such games in D-I this season entering the night. The last time there were more 30-5-5 games on the same day? January 23, 2010 when Dominique Jones, Landry Fields, Jahmar Young and Rodney Green all did it.

3. The strangest box score of the night comes courtesy of Old Dominion’s 49-34 win against Northeastern in the lowest-scoring game in CAA history. For the Monarchs, it was their fewest points in a win over the past 15 seasons. Meanwhile, Northeastern posted its lowest-scoring total since a 36-30 loss to UMass … in 1949. Somehow, in a game in which it scored only 49, ODU went on separate runs of 22-2 and 19-4. The Monarchs assisted on 17 of their 19 field goals, thanks mostly to Kent Bazemore’s career-high 11 assists.

4. New Mexico’s Alex Kirk had perhaps the most impressive performance by a freshman since the calendar turned to 2011. The 6-11 native of Los Alamos, N.M., broke Kenny Thomas’ school record for points in a game by a freshman, scoring 31 in a rout of Cal State Bakersfield. Kirk did his damage in just 21 minutes of play, converting 11 of 13 field goals. Though he’s started every game this season, Kirk had never scored more than 10 until Wednesday.

5. JaJuan Johnson was the difference is Purdue’s win at Penn State. The Boilermakers won by 15 and Johnson scored 15. They won the rebounding battle by 15 and Johnson pulled down 15 boards. Throw in his five blocks and the senior’s performance was tough to match. In fact, the last Big Ten player with a 15-15-5 line in a conference game was Minnesota’s Joel Przybilla in 2000.

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