Dallas Colleges: ACC

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Quarterback Kyler Murray grabbed all of the headlines at Allen (Texas) High School over the past few seasons, but it’s actually junior offensive tackle Greg Little who is a higher-ranked prospect.

GameDay to be at OSU-FSU opener

July, 30, 2014
7/30/14
8:30
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ESPN College GameDay will be in the Metroplex during the opening weekend of the college football season for the Cowboys Classic at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, between Oklahoma State and Florida State.

 
The GameDay set will broadcast from the Sundance Square Plaza in downtown Fort Worth.

The Cowboys were host to GameDay last season when they played Baylor in Stillwater. Oklahoma State won that game, 49-17.
Texas and Texas A&M might not be playing one another anytime soon.

But other schools around the league are interested in the prospects of rekindling rivalries that were destroyed by two rounds of conference realignment.

While the Longhorns and Aggies remain at odds, Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt told ESPN.com this week he’s optimistic that he’ll be able to get Texas A&M on the Red Raiders’ schedule down the line again. Hocutt said there has been interest from Texas A&M’s side, as well.

“Hopefully that’s a series that at some point in time that could start again,” Hocutt said. “Is that a game that won’t happen again? No. We’ve had discussions about it. Hopefully we can reengage that in the coming years.”

Oklahoma and Nebraska already have an agreement in place to play a home-and-home in 2021-22. Missouri coach Gary Pinkel has reportedly said he thinks his school will play Kansas again someday.

And West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck, who has already added Penn State and Virginia Tech to future schedules, told ESPN.com he's hopeful he'll be able to revive the “Backyard Brawl” with Pitt at some point, as well.

“At some point we’ll get Pitt back on the schedule,” Luck said. “What I’m trying to do with our nonconference games is stay as regional as possible and rekindle some of our historical rivalries. Penn State is back on the schedule. Virginia Tech is back on the schedule. That game meant a lot to southern West Virginians. The Pitt game meant a lot to northern West Virginians. We’ve continued to play Pitt in many of the sports.

“We’ve both gone through transitions, so it’s tough schedule-wise for both of us. But I think at some point we’ll get Pitt back on the schedule. I see [Pitt athletic director] Steve Pederson every now and then at various conventions. And we’ve had some discussions about that. We just haven’t been able to really eyeball the proper time to get it going again.”

Michael Brewer transferring to Hokies

March, 2, 2014
3/02/14
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Former Texas Tech quarterback Michael Brewer announced Sunday that he's transferring to play for Virginia Tech. Because he'll graduate this spring, Brewer will be eligible immediately with two seasons left to play.

Brewer was projected to start for the Red Raiders last season, but a summer back injury kept him from the playing the first month of the season. When he finally returned from the injury, freshmen Davis Webb and Baker Mayfield had solidified their places on the depth chart ahead of him.

Brewer originally had sought a transfer to TCU or Texas, but Texas Tech denied him a release to transfer within the Big 12.

He will join a wide-open competition at Virginia Tech to replace Logan Thomas. The Hokies have several quarterbacks on scholarship, including fifth-year senior Mark Leal, though none with much experience.

As for the Red Raiders, they will go into the spring with just one scholarship quarterback in Webb. Incoming freshman Patrick Mahomes will immediately become the backup when he arrives on campus in the summer.

Flip Week: Texas

December, 24, 2013
12/24/13
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Editor's note: During Week 12, 10 ESPN.com reporters changed conferences to experience college football in unfamiliar territory. Here is what they learned from the experience.

When we got our "Flip Week” assignments, I have to admit I thought I hit the college football jackpot. Maybe I'm biased, but I think I lucked out and got the best trip of them all. I had never been to Austin before, but plenty of close friends and family members had and I always felt I was missing out. Each one raved about the city, but for different reasons. A small part of me was slightly worried that Austin would be unable to live up to its advance billing, like an overhyped movie that turns out to be so-so.

Well, those concerns faded away about an hour into my visit. All the rave reviews you hear about Austin? They are all true. All the rave reviews you hear about Texas football game-day traditions? They are all true. All the rave reviews you hear about the food? They are all true. Austin was everything I wanted it to be, and that is what makes the city so irresistible to folks who visit. The experiences are so varied, no two are ever the same.

Now, here is a quick overview of the trip. Beginning with my favorite pic.
Best meal: la Barbecue. This was not an easy choice, because every meal I had was pretty terrific. But the "El Sancho" sandwich stands out. Filled with brisket, sausage and pickled red onion on a soft bun, the meat was tender, juicy and flavorful and the barbecue sauce I chose had the right amount of sweetness. This ended up being a fork-and-knife sandwich: the meat was packed in so tight, it spilled out from all sides. My favorite part, truthfully, was the sausage. It blended the right amount of sweet and spice, with a crunchy skin that popped when chomped on a bite. I admit I could not finish the whole sandwich. But I did eat every bite of sausage.

[+] EnlargeAndrea
Courtesy Andrea AdelsonBevo has the best seat in the house for a Texas home football game, as ESPN.com's Andrea Adelson learned on her trip.
Must-see sight in Austin: College football aficionados must take in the whole game-day experience. That means having a beverage at the Scholz Garten, mooching off some delicious tailgate grub on en route to Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, attempting to get close enough to get a glimpse of at least one player walking into the stadium during the march in, enjoying the band pregame featuring Big Bertha, hearing Smokey the Cannon go off and, of course, observing the always fascinating Bevo XIV. What does he do all game, you may ask. He just stands there. That is all.

Biggest surprise: Upbeat Texas fans. I wondered what the mood would be in Austin given all the speculation and tension surrounding the program throughout the course of the season. I was there for the Oklahoma State game, with Big 12 implications on the line. Texas fans had hope headed into the game, but they all seemed to believe it was time for Mack Brown to go. Just about everybody I talked to had no hard feelings for him. They just felt he was ruining his legacy by hanging too long. Despite the tension, though, Texas fans remained resolute the program would be back on top one way or another.

Biggest difference from ACC: In the ACC, you either have programs in major cities (Boston, Miami, Pittsburgh, Atlanta) or in college towns (Clemson, Blacksburg, Charlottesville). Austin is both big city and college town rolled into one. Three ACC programs are in state capitals, like Texas is in Austin. But Tallahassee, Raleigh and Atlanta would never be described as equal parts big city and equal parts college town.

They said it: "Texas is an icon program. In football, our brand is so recognizable, we are almost like the Yankees. The fact that people hate UT solidifies how good we are. The more they hate us, the better we are." Texas fan Todd Summy, explaining why he loves the Longhorns.

If I could go back: I missed the live music. How did I go to Austin and not see any? I am kicking myself for that. But because there was also an auto race the same weekend, my hotel was 30 minutes away from the heart of town. And our schedules were so packed with work and interviews, I simply did not have the time. That is No. 1 on my list next time I go. And yes, there absolutely will be a next time.

Chick-fil-A Bowl

December, 9, 2013
12/09/13
2:30
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Duke Blue Devils (10-3) vs. Texas A&M Aggies (8-4)

Dec. 31, 8 p.m. ET, Atlanta (ESPN)


DUKE BLUE DEVILS BREAKDOWN
As expected, Duke was overmatched in the ACC championship game and lost convincingly to Florida State, but the loss didn’t define the season, which includes a school-record 10 wins.

[+] EnlargeBrandon Connette
Streeter Lecka/Getty ImagesThe versatile Brandon Connette accounted for 26 total scores for Duke this season.
The Blue Devils still earned the title of Coastal Division champs and now have a chance to end the season on a winning note. Duke had won eight straight games heading into the ACC title game -- the program’s longest winning streak since 1941. The program was ranked in the BCS standings for the first time, and it defeated two ranked teams in then-No. 16 Virginia Tech and then-No. 24 Miami.

Although Duke lost to Florida State for the 19th time and remains winless against the Noles, what happened in that game wasn’t reminiscent of the “old Duke.” Instead, Duke just got a taste of what FSU had been doing to its opponents all season. Duke still has a much-improved defense, which was evident in the first quarter, when it held the Noles scoreless for the first time since they played Florida in 2012. Duke also forced Florida State into three turnovers, including one fumble in the red zone and two interceptions. Duke has now had four takeaways in the red zone this season. Duke’s biggest problem was that it couldn’t capitalize on Florida State’s mistakes or sustain a drive.

That wasn’t the case for most of the season, as Duke was able to score more than 20 touchdowns on the ground and in the passing game for the first time in school history. Despite the loss to FSU, it was an unprecedented season for Duke and coach David Cutcliffe, who was named the ACC’s Coach of the Year. -- Heather Dinich

vs.

TEXAS A&M AGGIES BREAKDOWN
This is not quite where Aggies fans thought their team might end up when they were previewing the season.

[+] Enlarge Mike Evans
Thomas Campbell/USA TODAY SportsMike Evans and the Aggies hope to finish their season on a high note with a bowl victory.
With 2012 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel, receiver Mike Evans and offensive tackle Jake Matthews all returning, many in College Station thought the Aggies could achieve a BCS bowl and perhaps even flirt with an SEC title and a BCS title game berth.

But an extremely young defense that was hit hard by graduation (at least in terms of key players) struggled throughout the season, and a beaten-up Manziel lost steam in the final two regular-season games, which led the offense to do the same.

All that being said, 8-4 isn't bad, and the fact that it's a "disappointment" in Aggieland speaks to how much progress the program has made in a short time. This team still has a high-powered offense, ranking sixth in the nation in points per game (43.6) and fourth in yards per game (538.2).

The defense has had its ups and downs but ended the regular season on a solid note on the road against a talented Missouri team, keeping the game within reach for its offense.

And this could be the last hurrah for Manziel, who seems destined to declare for early entry into the 2014 NFL draft. It could also be the final salvo for Evans, a Biletnikoff Award finalist, who is also draft-eligible. -- Sam Khan Jr.

Texas Bowl

December, 8, 2013
12/08/13
9:30
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Minnesota Golden Gophers (8-4) vs. Syracuse Orange (6-6)

Dec. 27, 6 p.m. ET, Houston (ESPN)


MINNESOTA GOLDEN GOPHERS BREAKDOWN
The Gophers were the surprise team in the Big Ten this year, as they overcame low expectations and fought through uncertainty surrounding coach Jerry Kill to clinch their first eight-win season in a decade.

[+] EnlargeRa'Shede Hageman
Jesse Johnson/USA TODAY SportsBehind dominating defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hageman, the Gophers won eight games and are heading to a bowl.
Kill suffered his fifth game-day seizure on Oct. 5, took medical leave and began resuming some coaching duties a little more than three weeks later. Defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys has taken over as needed, but the Gophers haven't missed a beat.

It's not as though this team is loaded with stars. Only one player -- DT Ra'Shede Hageman -- was a unanimous selection on the All-Big Ten team. But, week after week, the Gophers relied on a bend-but-don't-break defense (No. 17 in the nation in the red zone) and a run-heavy offense (200.9 ypg) to find a way to win.

Their bread and butter has been the run game, but the Gophers have played their best football when they have struck a balance. During their key four-game winning streak during the conference season -- against Northwestern, Nebraska, Indiana and Penn State -- the Gophers averaged 182.5 passing yards per game compared to 121.5 yards outside of that streak.

Minnesota is still not one of the best teams in the Big Ten, as it lost to both Wisconsin and Michigan State. But, behind quarterback Philip Nelson and tailback David Cobb, the Gophers have taken a step forward -- and are now hoping for their first bowl win since 2004. -- Josh Moyer

vs.

SYRACUSE ORANGE BREAKDOWN
The Orange not only had key personnel losses to fill when the season started, they also had a new head coach and a new conference to call home. Doubters wondered how Syracuse would get back to a bowl game given all the questions.

[+] EnlargeTerrel Hunt
Kellen Micah/Icon SMITerrel Hunt delivered Syracuse past Boston College to make the Orange bowl eligible.
Well, it took nearly every second of the season, but Syracuse got the job done. The Orange became bowl eligible on the final weekend of the regular season with a 34-31 win over Boston College, securing the victory on a 6-yard touchdown pass from Terrel Hunt to Josh Parris with 6 seconds remaining. This is the first time since 1998-1999 Syracuse is going to consecutive bowl games.

It was not pretty at times. Drew Allen started the season at quarterback but threw too many interceptions and was benched after three starts. Hunt was better, but he was nowhere near elite. He didn’t throw his first touchdown pass in league play until the second-to-last game of the season. There were ugly losses to Clemson, Florida State and Georgia Tech, too.

But first-year coach Scott Shafer was able to keep his team together. What got his team four ACC wins was its physical play. Jerome Smith had 840 yards and 11 touchdowns on the season, and the rushing defense played inspired. In three of those wins, Syracuse held its opponents to a combined 13 points.

In addition, Jay Bromley posted nine sacks and forced three fumbles to lead the defense. The Orange ended up in a tie for third in the Atlantic Division. Certainly not a bad way to open Year 1 in the ACC.
-- Andrea Adelson

Video: Week 1 games to watch

August, 28, 2013
8/28/13
11:00
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Mike Bellotti and Matt Stinchcomb offer up the Week 1 matchups they are most excited to watch: Georgia vs. Clemson and LSU vs. TCU.

Manziel jerseys hardly making A&M rich

August, 9, 2013
8/09/13
1:47
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One of the most popular proposals for paying college athletes involves giving players a share of the revenue from jersey sales. After all, the athletic department must be making millions off all those jerseys you see people wearing on game day, right? And the only explanation for a fan wearing a No. 2 Texas A&M jersey is because they want to wear Johnny Manziel's number, right?

What if I told you Texas A&M made just $59,690 on jersey sales for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2013?

That's correct. The Texas A&M athletic department received just $59,690 for jersey sales last year, Heisman Trophy winner and all. That number isn't just football, either. It includes basketball, baseball, cycling and all other jersey sales. Collegiate Licensing Company handles the licensing for Texas A&M and does not break jersey revenue down by sport or by number in its schools reports. That means we don't know how much revenue was generated from football jerseys or the No. 2 worn by Heisman Trophy winner Manziel.

[+] EnlargeJohnny Manziel
AP Photo/Aaron M. SprecherDespite having a the Heisman Trophy award winner, Texas A&M saw only $59,690 in revenue from jersey sales last fiscal year.
The bottom line is that athletic departments aren't getting rich off jersey sales. Texas A&M receives just 10 percent of the wholesale price for jerseys under its contract with adidas. If the jersey is sold through the campus bookstore, they make about 15 percent, but 92 percent of all merchandise is sold somewhere other than the campus bookstore.

Jersey sales accounted for just 1.53 percent of Texas A&M's licensing revenue last fiscal year. Out of the total of $3.9 million, the largest source of revenue was $750,000 in men's T-shirt sales. SEC co-branded product was also popular, eclipsing jersey sales at $102,000.

The situation isn't unique to Texas A&M. Wisconsin, whose licensing revenues also totaled $3.9 million, says just 1.23 percent, or $47,437, of its licensing revenue last year was derived from jersey sales. Similarly, West Virginia says $56,728 of its licensing revenue last year came from jersey sales, 1.62 percent of its $3.3 million total licensing revenue.

In the ACC, Clemson saw less than one percent of its $1.75 million licensing revenue come in from jersey sales, a grand total of $12,375. Cal estimates its jersey sales account for 1.5 percent of total licensing revenue, but it's tough to give an exact figure because the report it receives from Nike includes jerseys in a category with helmets, swim caps and other team gear.

"Jerseys are not insignificant in years where a current player has Heisman potential or when an alumnus goes to the Super Bowl or NBA Finals. But in general, it's not a big item," Cal licensing director Dan Perkins said.

Collegiate Licensing Company, which handles licensing for 157 universities, says jersey sales account for an average of 1.1 percent of all licensing revenue for the schools it represents. The largest sources of licensing revenue for these schools are from T-shirts, women's apparel and fleece apparel.

Even if the NCAA allowed schools to share jersey revenue with student-athletes, we're not talking life-changing money. First, at many schools, licensing revenue is split between the athletic department and the university. For example, all of North Carolina's licensing money is collected by the university, not the athletic department. At Virginia Tech, 25 percent net of expenses is transferred to the athletic department from the university, which amounted to approximately $300,000 last year.

Since the university's brand is part of the jersey (and jerseys are often sold with inactive numbers, like Texas A&M's No. 12), student-athletes would surely have to split the money with some combination of the university and athletic department. Then there's the issue of whether jersey sales money would go directly to the student-athletes whose numbers are used on jerseys sold at retail or if those funds would be divided between all student-athletes.

For the ease of the math, let's say the split between the university and student-athletes was 50/50. Texas A&M's count of student-athletes last year was 674, according to data filed with the Department of Education.

Each student-athlete at Texas A&M last year would have received $44.28 if jersey sales were shared with all student-athletes. Wisconsin's 878 student-athletes would have each received $27.01. West Virginia's 533 student-athletes would have each received $53.22. Clemson's 472 would have come in at just $13.11 each.

Of course, revenue from jersey sales could go directly to the student-athlete whose number was associated. Universities only choose to produce jerseys with a few selected numbers each year, however. What if a student-athlete didn’t think he or she was getting the same opportunities as others? Would the potential for an issue be enough to keep universities from producing jerseys with the numbers of current players, effectively reducing their risk of a lawsuit? Perhaps.

Following revelations by ESPN's Jay Bilas earlier this week in which current student-athletes' names -- such as Manziel and Jadeveon Clowney -- were available in search results on the NCAA's online store, Mark Emmert announced Thursday the NCAA will no longer be in the business of selling jerseys. This doesn't impact the ability of schools to continue to sell jerseys, but it's foreseeable they might get out of the business of selling jerseys with numbers corresponding to current student-athletes if push came to shove.

Nancy Hogshead-Makar, the senior director of advocacy for the Women's Sports Foundation, says she thinks there's an issue bigger than simply how to divide the money.

"If the school says they want to give athletes extra money on top of any educational model -- on top of tuition, room and board and cost of attendance -- then they're employees. That's your biggest problem, not Title IX."

In addition to added costs, including payroll taxes, 401(k) plans and insurance, student-athletes becoming employees could put the athletic department's, and potentially even the university's, tax-exempt status at risk.

With a number of unresolved issues, and the relatively small amount of money at stake, it's tough to imagine student-athletes will be pocketing money from jersey sales anytime soon.

Bracket reveal: Maui Invitational

July, 17, 2013
7/17/13
10:30
AM CT
Editor's note: Over two days, we're releasing the brackets/matchups for 11 of the top early-season events. A thread of previews and info for all 11 tourneys can be found here.

Tournament bracket for the EA Sports Maui Invitational

When and where: Nov. 25-27 at the Lahaina Civic Center in Maui, Hawaii

Initial thoughts: The 2012 EA Sports Maui Invitational will be tough to top.

Chaminade’s stunning annihilation of Texas ... Rotnei Clarke’s buzzer-beater to lift Butler past Marquette ... North Carolina’s uncharacteristic display of mediocrity ... Illinois players hoisting the championship trophy after winning three games by an average of 23.3 points. Each game brought a new storyline.

This year’s event could provide similar drama. Although there is only one preseason top-10 team (Syracuse) in the bracket, the 2013 field is far from weak. Gonzaga spent time as the nation’s No. 1 team last season, Cal and Minnesota made the NCAA tournament, and Baylor won the NIT championship.

Each of those teams (with Baylor being the possible exception) should take a small step back this season, but all of them will still be solid and contend for NCAA tournament berths. In other words, there’s not a dud in this bunch, which leads me to believe that almost every game in this year’s event will be entertaining and competitive.

[+] EnlargeAndre Hollins
Kevin Jairaj/US PresswireMinnesota will be counting on Andre Hollins to provide a scoring punch again this season.
Matchup I can’t wait to see: Minnesota vs. Syracuse. Event organizers couldn’t ask for anything better than a first-round game pitting two of the biggest names in coaching: Pitino and Boeheim. Ha-ha. Gotcha. This isn’t Hall of Famer Rick Pitino we’re talking about. Instead it’ll be his son, Richard, coaching for Minnesota against Jim Boeheim’s Orange. Richard is in his first season with the Gophers after being plucked from Florida International to replace Tubby Smith. Minnesota lost two of its best players (forwards Trevor Mbakwe and Rodney Williams) to graduation, but guards Austin Hollins and Andre Hollins return in the backcourt and may be able to make this game competitive, especially since Syracuse is replacing a few key parts as well.

Potential matchup I’d like to see: Baylor vs. Gonzaga. Baylor shouldn’t have any problems beating Chaminade in the opening round and advancing to the semifinals against either Gonzaga or Dayton. The Flyers are always pesky, but I still think Gonzaga wins that game. Baylor and Gonzaga have faced off in two of the past three seasons, with Gonzaga winning both times by single digits. But I’d pick the Bears in this one. The Zags lost their top two post players (Kelly Olynyk and Elias Harris), and Baylor’s strength is in the paint with Cory Jefferson, Isaiah Austin, Ricardo Gathers, Taurean Prince and Royce O’Neale. Gonzaga boasts one of the country’s top point guards in Kevin Pangos while Baylor is searching for a replacement at that position following the graduation of Big 12 scoring leader Pierre Jackson. Still, Baylor’s overall depth in the backcourt is strong with experienced players such as Brady Heslip and Gary Franklin there to guide newcomers like Ishmail Wainright, Kenny Chery and Allerik Freeman.

Five players to watch

Justin Cobbs, Cal: Transfers are hit and miss, but things couldn’t have worked out any better when Cobbs left Minnesota for Cal a few years ago. The athletic guard averaged 15.1 points and 4.8 assists a game as a junior last season. He’ll be asked to do even more following the departure of leading scorer Allen Crabbe to the NBA.

Tyler Ennis, Syracuse: Returning standouts C.J. Fair and Jerami Grant are more recognizable names, but no player in the Maui Invitational will be under as much scrutiny as Ennis, the freshman point guard who has been tabbed to replace NBA lottery pick Michael Carter-Williams. How Syracuse fares in the ACC and, ultimately, the postseason will depend heavily on how Ennis performs in his first season of college basketball.

Andre Hollins, Minnesota: Hollins led the Gophers in scoring last season with 14.6 points per game. His 41-point effort in a victory over Memphis in the Battle 4 Atlantis was one of the top performances in college basketball all season. He should combine with Austin Hollins (no relation) to give Minnesota one of the more formidable backcourts in the Maui field. The biggest issue for the Gophers will be finding scoring down low.

Cory Jefferson, Baylor: The Bears power forward is fresh off a breakthrough season in which he averaged 13.3 points and eight rebounds a game. Jefferson was particularly effective in the postseason, when he averaged 21.2 points over a five-game stretch to lead Baylor to the NIT championship. The freakishly athletic Jefferson will combine with the 7-foot Austin and a bruiser in Gathers to give Baylor one of the nation’s top frontcourts.

Kevin Pangos, Gonzaga: A point guard, Pangos ranked third on the Zags in scoring last season with 11.9 points per game and averaged a team-high 3.3 assists. He shot just 42 percent from the field, a number that will need to increase this season. The loss of leading scorers Olynyk and Harris (who combined to average 32.4 PPG) means that Pangos will likely be asked to score at a higher rate.

Title game prediction: Syracuse over Baylor

Baylor has the size, depth, talent and experience to hang with Syracuse, and winning the championship of such an elite tournament would be a huge momentum boost for a squad loaded with potential. Syracuse, though, is an incredibly difficult team to prepare for on short notice because of its unorthodox style. Even though they lost Carter-Williams, James Southerland and Brandon Triche, the Orange aren’t short on experience, depth or talent either. Fair averaged a team-high 14.5 points and seven rebounds a game for a team that reached the Final Four last spring. Grant showed flashes of brilliance when his minutes increased during Southerland’s suspension, and DaJuan Coleman, Rakeem Christmas and Baye Keita are poised for breakthrough seasons. They’ve proved they can excel at the highest level. Look for Syracuse to win an entertaining championship game.

Who others are picking:

Eamonn Brennan: Baylor over Syracuse
Jeff Goodman: Gonzaga over Syracuse
Andy Katz: Syracuse over Gonzaga
Myron Medcalf: Syracuse over Baylor
Dana O'Neil: Syracuse over Baylor

On the record: Expert predictions

March, 28, 2013
3/28/13
4:00
PM CT
Before the Sweet 16 gets under way, our experts offer their predictions for all four regions:

EAST REGION (Washington, D.C.)

Eamonn Brennan: Indiana over Marquette
Fran Fraschilla: Indiana over Miami
John Gasaway: Indiana over Miami
Seth Greenberg: Miami over Indiana
Andy Katz: Indiana over Miami
Jason King: Indiana over Miami
Myron Medcalf: Miami over Indiana
Dana O'Neil: Indiana over Miami
Bruce Pearl: Miami over Syracuse
Robbi Pickeral: Miami over Indiana
Dick Vitale: Indiana over Miami

WEST REGION (Los Angeles)

Eamonn Brennan: Ohio State over La Salle
Fran Fraschilla: Ohio State over Wichita State
John Gasaway: Ohio State over Wichita State
Seth Greenberg: Ohio State over Wichita State
Andy Katz: Ohio State over Wichita State
Jason King: Arizona over Wichita State
Myron Medcalf: Ohio State over Wichita State
Dana O'Neil: Ohio State over La Salle
Bruce Pearl: Arizona over Ohio State
Robbi Pickeral: Ohio State over Wichita State
Dick Vitale: Ohio State over Wichita State

SOUTH REGION (North Texas)

Eamonn Brennan: Florida over Michigan
Fran Fraschilla: Florida over Kansas
John Gasaway: Kansas over Florida
Seth Greenberg: Kansas over Florida
Andy Katz: Michigan over Florida
Jason King: Kansas over Florida
Myron Medcalf: Michigan over Florida Gulf Coast
Dana O'Neil: Michigan over Florida Gulf Coast
Bruce Pearl: Kansas over Florida
Robbi Pickeral: Florida over Kansas
Dick Vitale: Michigan over Florida

MIDWEST REGION (Indianapolis)

Eamonn Brennan: Louisville over Michigan State
Fran Fraschilla: Louisville over Michigan State
John Gasaway: Louisville over Duke
Seth Greenberg: Louisville over Michigan State
Andy Katz: Louisville over Michigan State
Jason King: Louisville over Duke
Myron Medcalf: Louisville over Michigan State
Dana O'Neil: Louisville over Michigan State
Bruce Pearl: Louisville over Duke
Robbi Pickeral: Louisville over Duke
Dick Vitale: Louisville over Michigan State

Wednesday both a win and a loss for Texas

December, 20, 2012
12/20/12
12:15
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AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas suffered its biggest loss of the season on the night it pulled off its biggest win.

Prior to the Longhorns' 85-67 victory over No. 23 North Carolina at the Frank Erwin Center, point guard Myck Kabongo was ruled ineligible for the season by the NCAA, barring an appeal, according to sources from within the Texas athletics department. The story was first reported by Yahoo! Sports on Wednesday night.

The loss of Kabongo put a serious dent in this young Texas team's chances of making a 16th consecutive NCAA tournament. But the win against the Tar Heels at least gives the 7-4 Longhorns some hope.

Playing with a true freshman point guard in Javan Felix and only freshmen and sophomores on the court, UT played the role of the aggressor, pushed the more talented and savvy Heels around, built a big lead and -- for the first time this season -- didn't crumble.

"There is process that every student-athlete goes through, and I can only tell you that process is not done. We are in the middle of that process," said Texas coach Rick Barnes of the Kabongo situation. "Every student-athlete is entitled to a process if something comes up, and that process is ongoing."

Kabongo has been under investigation for impermissible benefits concerning a workout that involved agent Rich Paul. According to sources, the penalty was so severe because Kabongo had been less than straightforward when the NCAA initially questioned him.

While Barnes refused to take further questions on Kabongo, North Carolina coach Roy Williams now has plenty of them about his team.

"It was like comedy of errors, except it wasn't very blankety-blank funny," Williams said.

The Tar Heels' defense refused to extend in the first half and allowed Texas to build a 19-point lead. That lead was aided by two straight surprising 3-pointers from Texas forward Jonathan Holmes. The sophomore had made only three shots from beyond the arc in his 10 previous games.

[+] EnlargeJavan Felix
Brendan Maloney/USA TODAY SportsFreshman point guard Javan Felix effectively piloted Texas, scoring 8 points with 8 assists.
"We backed off him," Williams said.

And North Carolina continued to back down for most of the night.

"They did a better job of pushing the pace and getting us back on our heels," Williams said. "It seems like they got every loose ball."

There were plenty of those to go around, as Carolina turned it over 18 times. Texas, typically not a solid transition team, scored 14 points off those turnovers.

"Coming into the game, coach Barnes preached to us to getting the ball out and getting back in transition, and that was our game plan along with rebounding -- and that was what we tried to do," Felix said.

"They outran a running team," is how Williams put it.

In fact, Texas struggled only when it went into half-court sets. Starting the second half, North Carolina started to value the basketball more and made more of an effort to keep the Texas offense in front of it. That, coupled with the aggressiveness of James Michael McAdoo (14 points, 9 rebounds) and Reggie Bullock (a career-high 13 rebounds), allowed UNC to cut the lead to four.

Given that Texas has been a team that has struggled down the stretch -- the Longhorns were outscored 13-2 down the stretch in a 65-63 loss to UCLA -- it appeared as if the tide had started to turn.

Until, that is, North Carolina neglected to communicate on defense and allowed Cameron Ridley to throw down an uncontested dunk to push the lead back to seven with 6 minutes, 35 seconds remaining.

"We were aggressive and moved the ball pretty well, and some guys knocked some shots down," Barnes said. "But this was a game we thought would be won in transition and on the boards."

Texas didn't win on the boards in the box score (North Carolina had 43 to the Horns' 40). But UT did win in second-chance points with 18, and in fast-break points with 14.

"We have had a couple of tough losses because we had not played as hard as we should," said Holmes, who finished with 15 points and 8 boards. "[Wednesday night], we came out and did what we had to do. We definitely set the bar high for the rest of the season."

Regardless of who might be with Texas for the rest of the season.

--HornsNation writer Max Olson contributed to this report

Rapid Reaction: Texas 85, N. Carolina 67

December, 19, 2012
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AUSTIN, Texas -- A few quick thoughts from Texas' 85-67 victory over 23rd-ranked North Carolina at the Frank Erwin Center ...

Overview: When last Texas found itself on the national stage, it was blowing an eight-point lead with 3 minutes, 43 seconds left against UCLA. Clearly this young Longhorns team -- without point guard Myck Kabongo due to NCAA suspension -- learned a little something in that Dec. 8 loss as it held off the Tar Heels on Wednesday night.

The victory comes as Texas is dealing with issues both on and off the floor. Coming into the game, the Horns were an uncustomary 6-4 in the nonconference. And on the day of the game, university officials had learned that Kabongo's ordeal with the NCAA would extend throughout the season barring an appeal, according to sources within the Texas athletic department and first reported by Yahoo! Sports.

The Tar Heels (8-3), meanwhile, are not in that great of shape either. Against Texas, the talent and playmaking was there, but the first-half hole they dug was just too deep. Texas led by as many as 19 in the first half. North Carolina cut it to four with under 8 minutes left in the game, but never managed to get any closer as UT quickly pushed the lead back to a comfortable 10 with less than 2 minutes left.

Turning point: With North Carolina slowly crawling back into the game and momentarily whittling the Texas lead to four, the Longhorns went inside with a pass from Sheldon McClellan to center Cameron Ridley, who turned and threw down UT's first dunk of the game. That pushed the Texas lead back to seven, 63-56, with 6:25 left. It also gave the Horns the lift to ward off a UNC comeback.

Key player: Texas forward Jonathan Holmes wasn't flashy in the second half, but his steady play in the first helped give his team a huge lead. The sophomore scored eight consecutive points during one stretch to put Texas up 15, 33-18. Six of those eight points were from behind the arc, a place from which Holmes is not accustomed to making shots. He finished with 15 points and 8 rebounds.

Key stat: Texas is without its top point guard and best defender in Kabongo, but that did not stop the Longhorn defense from creating 18 North Carolina turnovers, including 12 in the first half. Texas converted those turnovers into 14 points.

Miscellaneous: Texas is 2-2 against North Carolina over the past four seasons. ... North Carolina shot 31.3 percent. ... Reggie Bullock scored 18 points (tying him with Texas' McClellan for game-high honors). He also led in rebounds with 13. ... Texas had 18 second-chance points.

Next up: After two seesaw games with non-ranked opponents, the Tar Heels should have a relatively easy time with McNeese State at home Saturday before playing host to a resurgent UNLV program Dec. 29. Texas heads on the road for another top-25 opponent as it goes to No. 20 Michigan State for a game Saturday afternoon.

Plenty of blame for all in Big East breakup

December, 18, 2012
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Former Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese spoke out about the breakup of the Big East, telling our very own Brett McMurphy, "If they want to blame someone, blame me."

There is plenty of blame to go around, no question, and Traghese does deserve his share of criticism. The Big East breakup began under his watch, when Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College defected to the ACC in the early 2000s. But of all the comments he made to McMurphy, this one stuck out to me the most:
"The thing the Big East didn't have was a football leader -- a Florida, Alabama or USC -- a team that contended for the national championship every year or carried the league. It wasn't strong enough football-wise."

I wholeheartedly disagree with that assertion, and it sounds as if Tranghese is practicing a bit of revisionist history here. Because he had Miami as his leader when the league added football in 1991 -- the year the Hurricanes won their fourth national championship. In 1992, Miami played for another national championship before losing to Alabama. While the Hurricanes did suffer through NCAA sanctions and probation for a short period, Miami won another national championship in 2001 and played for another in 2002.

All under the Big East umbrella. Tally up the numbers, and Miami finished in the Top 25 in 12 of its 13 years in the league, won two national titles and played for two more. The Hurricanes had more Top 25 finishes and played for more national titles than Alabama and USC during that stretch.

Virginia Tech also played for a national title and had eight Top 25 finishes during its stay in the league.

So to say the Big East had no football power is either mis-remembering, or trying to make excuses for how the league began to fall apart when he was still commissioner. I think it is safer to say that the Big East failed to embrace the growing power of football and the corresponding growth in television dollars because of its split interests. This league put basketball first at just about every step. Football was never made a priority, and Miami, Boston College and Virginia Tech made the first move to get out. That, in turn, left the Big East open to more defections, as Tranghese points out:
"Everything in this day and age is about money," Tranghese said. "I don't know what Mike (Aresco), John (Marinatto) or I could have done. We weren't strong enough football-wise and we got picked apart. If there was someone out there that could have made us more powerful we would have went after them."

And now the Big East is no more.

Charleston Classic primer

November, 15, 2012
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It doesn’t boast the tradition of the Maui Invitational or a field stocked with Final Four contenders like the Battle 4 Atlantis. Still, don’t be surprised if the Charleston Classic turns out to be one of the most entertaining preseason tournaments of them all. Only one ranked squad (No. 16 Baylor) is featured in the eight-team bracket. But there aren’t any patsies, either.

Murray State lost just two games last season and returns a preseason All-American in Isaiah Canaan. This year’s Colorado team is even better than the one that upset UNLV in the NCAA tournament. St. John’s touts one of the most athletic rosters in the country, while Dayton should be greatly improved under second-year coach Archie Miller.

Expect a lot of exciting games and close scores this week.

The basics: Nov. 15-16, 18 at TD Arena in Charleston, S.C.

The set matchups: Dayton vs. Colorado, 12:30 p.m. ET; Baylor vs. Boston College, 3 p.m.; St. John’s vs. Charleston, 5:30 p.m.; Murray State vs. Auburn, 8 p.m.

(For the full bracket, click here.)

The favorite: Baylor. The Bears have the best chance of any team to end Kansas’ string of eight straight Big 12 titles. Point guard Pierre Jackson is a Wooden Award candidate, and 7-foot-1 freshman forward Isaiah Austin may be, too, after a few more weeks. Austin, Cory Jefferson and Ricardo Gathers may form an even better frontcourt than the unit that had three players (Perry Jones III, Quincy Acy and Quincy Miller) drafted last season. And the Jackson-led backcourt is six deep. Baylor went 30-8 last season and reached the Elite Eight. This team may be even more dangerous.

[+] EnlargeBaylor's Isaiah Austin
Kevin Jairaj/US PRESSWIREBaylor's 7-foot-1 freshman Isaiah Austin can do it all when he's healthy, but may be limited by an ankle sprain.
FIVE PLAYERS TO WATCH

Isaiah Austin, Baylor: Austin may have more upside than any player in college basketball. How many other 7-footers can bring the ball up the court, swish a 3-pointer on one possession and then drive to the basket for a dunk on the next? Physically, Austin needs to gain weight and strength. Still, despite being a bit frail, he’s one of the most unique players in college basketball.

Isaiah Canaan, Murray State: Big-school coaches have been kicking themselves the past two years for not recruiting Canaan, who may be the best point guard in America. Canaan has the green light to take shots from 5 or 6 feet beyond the 3-point arc, and his strength makes him tough to stop when he’s slashing to the basket. Canaan averaged 19 points for a Racers squad that went 31-2 last season.

Andre Roberson, Colorado: Roberson may be the best pure rebounder in the country -- and he’s only 6-foot-7. That didn’t stop the Buffaloes forward from averaging 11.1 boards per contest last season along with 11.6 points. Roberson may be even more productive this season thanks to the presence of standout freshman center Josh Scott, who will make it difficult for opponents to double-team Roberson.

Andrew Lawrence, College of Charleston: Lawrence was one of just two current college players to compete in the 2012 Olympics in London, where he represented his native Great Britain. A point guard, Lawrence averaged 13 points and 5.5 assists as a junior last season. He’s hoping to lead the Cougars back to the NCAA tournament under first-year coach Doug Wojcik.

D'Angelo Harrison, St. John’s: Harrison averaged a team-high 16.8 points for the Red Storm last season -- and he was only a freshman. Impressed as Steve Lavin was with his performance, the head coach wants Harrison to improve his shot selection, as he connected on just 37 percent of his field goal attempts in 2011-12. Harrison scored 22 points in Tuesday’s victory over Detroit.

FIVE BIG QUESTIONS

Who else steps up for Murray State?

Everyone knows about Canaan, but the senior point guard can’t do it all by himself. The Racers lost three starters from last season’s team, leading some to believe they won’t be nearly as dangerous in 2012-13. Head coach Steve Prohm is confident seniors such as forwards Ed Daniel and Stacy Wilson will flourish in increased roles.

Will Austin play for Baylor?

The freshman sprained his ankle midway through the second half of the Bears’ season-opening victory over Lehigh and was held out of a game against Jackson State two days later. Baylor coaches were hopeful Austin could return for today’s game against Boston College. The Bears don’t need Austin to beat the Eagles, but his presence will be vital in the semifinals and final.

How much has Dayton improved?

The Flyers won 12 of their first 16 games in Archie Miller’s first season but then fizzled down the stretch. A few key returnees -- especially senior Kevin Dillard -- will make Dayton dangerous in 2012-13, but if the Flyers don't notch a quality win or two in Charleston, they’ll still be regarded as a middle-of-the-pack Atlantic 10 team.

Can Auburn compete?

The Tigers haven’t reached the NCAA tournament since 2003, but strides are definitely being made. Other than Kenny Gabriel, Auburn returns virtually every key piece from a squad that went 15-16 last season. Tonight’s opening-round game against Murray State will be tough, but look for Tony Barbee’s squad to play some tight games in the consolation rounds.

Can anyone in this field beat Baylor?

Absolutely. The Bears may have looked like one of the top teams in college basketball last weekend, but it’s not as if they don’t have kinks to work out. Jackson can be careless with the ball, sharpshooter Brady Heslip is in a funk from 3-point range and it appears Austin won’t be 100 percent. Personnelwise, Colorado would appear to have the best chance of upsetting the Bears. The Buffaloes will certainly be motivated, as Baylor beat Colorado in last season’s NCAA tournament.

THE PICKS

First round: Colorado over Dayton; Baylor over Boston College; St. John’s over Charleston; Murray State over Auburn

Semifinals: Baylor over Colorado; Murray State over St. John’s

Championship game Baylor over Murray State

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