Friday, November 30, 2012

SEC-Big East

So they have a challenge too?  Hmmm, good for them.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Wisconsin-Virginia over/under was...


Hot damn, Vegas.

Well, played. Well, played!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

ACC-Big Ten Challenge Part 2

Well, I went 5-1 on my picks for Tuesday’s games and the Big Ten currently leads 4-2. Let’s see how Wednesday’s night’s games play out:

Ohio State at Duke
Last year Ohio State throttled Duke and made my evening very painful. Duke’s been playing great and Ohio State hasn’t had a real tough game yet. How much will revenge matter? At home, Duke gets it done. Duke 74, Ohio State 68

Virginia at Wisconsin
I haven’t looked yet but the over/under has to be around 112. My advice, advert your eyes and do not look directly at this game. It’s going to be painful. Ok, I looked, the over/under is 114 and I don’t think it gets close to it. Wisconsin 49, Virginia 47

Michigan State at Miami
Here’s one that I think will be good. Izzo’s teams never look good at the beginning of the season but watch out come March. Jim Larranga’s second year at Miami looked like it might end with a tourney bid. The loss to Florida Gulf Coast is baffling but I think this may come down to the wire. Could be the game to watch outside of Duke-OSU tonight. Michigan State 63, Miami 62

Purdue at Clemson
Purdue is in full rebuilding mode and Clemson is starting to look up. I like what the Tigers are doing but they are still a year away from contending for a bid. They are however, right on target for a win tonight. Clemson 65, Purdue 59

Georgia Tech at Illinois
Illinois looked great in Maui but teams usually struggle their first game back. See Carolina, North and Gold, Marquette. However, Illinois got that struggle game out against Gardner-Webb.  Which team shows up tonight?  I'm calling for the upset as GaTech pulls one out. Georgia Tech 68, Illinois 64
Boston College at Penn State
Umm, boy, Boston College is bad….Wake Forest type bad. Penn State 70, Boston College 56

That makes tonight’s games 3-3 giving the ACC-Big Ten to the Big Ten in a 7-5 margin. Hooray for TV revenue!!!!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Monday Musings

To echo Brain, here's a few winners and losers from the first few weeks.


- Georgetown: Good win over UCLA showed the national media the wrong team and players were getting all the attention.

The win may not look as good at the end of the season but focused our energy on a program on solid footing. Taking the Hooisers to overtime will not be a knock against them.

- Creighton: Did what they needed to do in regards to resume building by beating North Texas handidly and winning in Vegas over Wisconsin and Arizona State. The win over North Texas has lust its luster but a must for the Bluejays.

-Wichita State: Should the Valley send multiple teams, the Shockers have certainly made an early mark with wins over VCU, DePaul and at Iowa. DePaul is no big deal but still a major conference win, same with Iowa.

-Duke: Incredibly impressive start to the season. Coach K is always ahead of his opponents as far as having his team ready but the way they played wasn't fluky.

Shout out to Illinois for winning Maui. Will be on the bubble for sure. Has talent.


-Texas: They're missing Myck Kabongo but Chaminade? Not good. Neither was an overtime loss to USC. USC is better but Texas is suppose to be tournament bound.

-Memphis: Losing to VCU and following that up with a loss to Minnesota shows why Memphis is always hovering lower on seeding lines come March. I don't buy the Gophers being that much better. Mbakwe isn't half the player he was.

-VCU: Should still make the dance having moved to the A-10 but they lost a chance to make a statement. The win against Memphis doesn't look as good and they lost to Missouri, Duke & Wichita State. No reason to hang your head but an opportunity was lost

-UCLA: Really thoroughly beaten by Georgetown, needed overtime to beat UC Irvone and lost on Sunday to Cal Poly.

That sizzling you hear? That's Ben Howland's hot seat. Steve Lavin has more tourney appearances in less time, just sayin....

ACC-Big Ten Challenge Tuesday and Wednesday

Tuesday’s Matchups

North Carolina at Indiana
Matchup 1B to start I think this game goes to the host college and since we’re in Indiana we’ll give it to the Hoosiers. It should be a good back and forth effort. Not much to cheer for from my perspective. Indiana 81, North Carolina 75

North Carolina State at Michigan
I’m tempted to call this 1C. Michigan has looked better than expected this year while North Carolina hasn’t exactly wow’d anybody. If Michigan can continue their offensive tear they should be able to outlast the Wolfpack. Michigan 74, NC State 70

Minnesota at Florida State
Overachievers versus underachievers. Minnesota looked great in Atlantis outside of the Duke second half while FSU has a loss against a Sun Belt team on their resume. FSU lost a lot from last year and Tubby Smith is starting to put something together up in Gopherland. Minnesota 68, Florida State 61

Maryland at Northwestern
Maryland is looking like a tournament team early on and Northwestern seems to be fine without John Shurma. The key to this game will be pace as the Wildcats want to keep it in the 50 point range. My hunch is that Maryland out athlete’s them for a win and then gets to play on the Big 10 side next year against Syracuse. Maryland 71, Northwestern 57

Iowa at Virginia Tech
Both teams are in rebuilding mode but Fran McCaffrey’s got a two year start on Tech. I still think Iowa will be a bubble team down the stretch while Va Tech will be out of it by 1/3 of the conference schedule. Iowa 71, Virginia Tech 62

Nebraska at Wake Forest
This could quite possibly be the worst matchup in the history of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. I’d be surprised if ESPN doesn’t show an old World Series of Poker instead. Nebraska is bad, but Wake is 5-27 bad. Nebraska 59, Wake Forest 49

So, after Tuesday’s games we have the Big Ten with 5 wins and only 2 away from clinching this year’s challenge. Can the ACC bounce back on Wednesday?

Here are Wednesday’s Matchups:
Ohio State at Duke
Virginia at Wisconsin
Michigan State at Miami
Purdue at Clemson
Georgia Tech at Illinois
Boston College at Penn State

Either I or Kurly will be back tomorrow to preview these games.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

A Very Early Look.

The season is only two weeks in but let’s take a look at a couple of the early season winners and losers.


Duke – looking even better than I thought, they’ve knocked off two top 5 teams already. To be on the fair side Louisville was missing their second best player and Kentucky is young but you can’t dismiss the Blue Devil’s start. Ohio State is looming on Wednesday

Pac-12 – Colorado looks like a bon-a-fide tournament team and Oregon looks to be bouncing back nicely from the past couple years. In addition to UCLA and Arizona the conference is starting to trend up. Even Arizona State looks like a real Division 1 team.

This Blog – Geez, the articles that Kurly writes are awesome. They’re better than 90% of what ESPN churns out. It’s good to not have to shill for a certain team or conference.

Gonzaga – They aren’t blowing teams out but they aren’t losing. This year’s team could be special as not only are they playing offense but they are also playing defense (Pomeroy has them as the 3rd most efficient on the defensive end). The Zags currently sit at #3 overall according to Pomeroy’s ranking


Kentucky – yes they’ve won all but 1 game but they haven’t looked good doing it. They struggled most of the game against Morehead State and the 1st half of the Long Island game was close. Is this team too young or are they just not as talented as last year’s bunch?

ACC – Florida State lost to South Florida, Miami lost to Florida Gulf Coast, Boston College is 2-4, Virginia has losses to two Colonial teams, and Wake Forest couldn’t stay within 30 of Iona. The bottom half of this conference is bad…really bad. Oh, yeah, and North Carolina lost to Butler

Memphis – A top 20 team coming into the season they now sit at 3-2 with losses to VCU and Minnesota. That’s nothing to be ashamed of but they were never in those games. 2 of their 3 wins are against low major’s. The Tigers don’t look like they are jelling yet.

Vanderbilt – 1-3 with blowout losses to Marist, Davidson, and Oregon. It’s going to be a really long year for Kevin Stallings.

The Big East and Conference Realignment/Decimation

The TV Contract: If you have a camcorder and a $1.50, you could probably procure the next Big East TV contract. TV contract? They're working on it. Let them get their membership issues figured out first.

The History of the Big East membership: The Big East was founded in 1979 as a coference primarily focusing on basketball. It was begun by St. John's, Providence (Providence AD Dave Gavitt was the driving force), Georgetown & Syracuse. They extended invitations to Seton Hall, UConn, Boston College, Holy Cross & Rutgers. Holy Cross & Rutgers would decline invitations.

Villanova joined in 1980.

The seeds for today's demise were sown in 1982 when Penn State applied for membership and was rejected. At this time, Joe Paterno began discussions with Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Rutgers, West Virginia and Temple about forming an East Coast Football Conference. It never came to fruition as questions about revenue sharing and the power of PSU left it a non-starter.

The Big East would invite and accept Pittsburgh as a member in 1982. Some saw this as a rebuke to Penn State for trying to begin its football conference. At the time, Pittsburgh was nearing the end of its glory days in football.

At the end of the 1980s, the Big East decided to become a football conference as well as a basketball conference. This meant bringing in new members who played football as only BC, Syracuse & Pittsburgh played Division 1 football. Miami, Virginia Tech, Temple, Rutgers & West Virginia were added.

Miami joined immediately as full member in all sports. West Virginia and Rutgers joined as full members in 1995. Virginia Tech joined as a full member in 2000. Temple never joined as a full member at this time.

Notre Dame was added as a member in all sports except football in 1995.

By 2003, tensions had emerged between the football and non-football schools. This allowed the ACC to come along and pursue football schools of the Big East. It was a surprise at the time whem commissioner Mike Tranghese announced this was happening. The ACC would eventually take BC, Virginia Tech & Miami. The league would also dismiss Temple for a variety of reasons including not being competetive, bad facilities and poor attendance.

To counter the losses, the league would add Lousiville, Cincinnati and South Florida to replace their football losses and would expand to 16 teams in basketball by adding basketball only schools in DePaul and Marquette. The addittion of the last two seemed puzzling but the thought process was "imprint" and "tv markets".

Though the league never achieved a strong football presence, it seemed the conference was fine, though it had to be known they'd always be targeted should other conferences decide to expand again. When Jim Delany announced the Big 10 would expand, tnat's what happened to the Big East.

Sensing the changing atmosphere, the Big East extended an invite to TCU in 2010 to strengthen their football and again extend its georgraphic imprint in hopes of drawing a better TV deal. Then came armageddon for the Big east as the drive for 16 members began in full earnest a year later. Here's the history:

- On September 17, 2011, the ACC accepted Pittsburgh & Syracuse as full members

- On October 28, 2011, West Virginia departed for the Big 12

- TCU declines the invitation they originally accepted to join the Big 12

- In Decdmber of 2011, the Big East adds Boise State & San Diego State for football only. They also added Houston, SMU & Central Florida as full members with all 5 expected to join the league as full members in 2013.

- On January 24, 2012, Navy was accepted as football only member

- On March 7, 2012, Temple was added as a full sports member 8 years after being kicked out for having a non-competetive football school

- On September 12, 2012, Notre Dame announced it was leaving the conference to join the ACC in all sports except football & hockey.

- On November 20, 2012, Rutgers announced it was joining the Big 10

Should nothing change, doubtful, members in 2013 for basketball would be SMU, Houston, Central Florida, Memphis, Temple, Marquette, DePaul, Providence, Seton Hall, Villanova, Georgetown, St, John's, South Florida, Cincinnati, Louisville and Rutgers (members until 2013-14).

What Hath Expansion Wrought: More than likely, the death of the Big East. When the Big East expanded to 16 teams in 2006 for hoops, most people snickered when in reality, it became the deepest, most competetive conference in America with its nadir in 2010-11 when they sent 11 teams to the dance. Some credited this to shear volume but the fact of the matter was, the conference had a lot of good basketball programs.

Well, since then, Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame have left along with Rutgers. It seems likely UConn, Louisville, South Florda & Cincinnati will all be targeted during the next round of realignment and who could blame them for leaving a conference on such shaky ground? When this does happen, the remaining schools will have to decide what to do. The newest members can go forward (SMU, Houston, UCF, Navy, Memphis, Temple) in football along with anyone that gets left behind of the 4 current football schools and Boise State & SDSU and strike out on their own or stay and try and make the Big East work. Does it make sense for them to? They will not be allowed to sit at the boys table when it comes to BCS revenue. Would they be better served to form a super conference that has been discussed between the MWC and the other leftovers? That's for football.

As for basketball, it seems unlikely the current members have any real incentive to remain with an uncertain future. Current members can dissolve the league in a vote should they choose. A core of Georgetown, Villanova, St. John's, Providence, Seton Hall, Marquette and DePaul could be a strong mid-major in major markets. I don't think there is much doubt, the A-10 and these schools have much in common and some type of working patrnership would benefit everyone. Georgetown has been discussed as a 16th team in the ACC in all sports except football.

This March, the Big East will play another conference tournament in New York at MSG. It'll be the end of an era and the end of a great basketball league. And it's not good for the fans of any of these leagues. I think we've all accepted the sham of amateurism. What these super conferences are moving us to, is a true developmental system for the NBA and NFL where the difference between pro and college is negligible.

If you love college sports like I do, this is a shame. Real rivalries are lost and at some point, fans will lose interest in playing schools from 1000 of miles away. All for TV dollars that were there anyway. I fully expect 128 tourney announcement very soon.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Pac 12 and Conference Expansion/Decimation

The TV Contract: The Pac 12 has a new TV deal that began this academic year with both ESPN and Fox Sports that is for 12 years and worth $2.7 billion.

The deal includes full revenue sharing among member schools, a departure from the past when UCLA and USC had received a larger share. They do get a $2 million premium should media rights ever fail to reach $170 million a year.

The deal allows both ESPN and Fox to air the football championship game and the basketball conference tournament. They will alternate yearly between the two networks.

Like most recent deals, the new deal pushes more games into primetime with ESPN airing a guaranteed 4 games per season on Thursday/Friday nights and ESPN and Fox airing 5 primetime games between the two on Saturday nights through the course of the football season.

The Pac 12 has also launched their own television network, ala the B1G. At launch in fall of this year, the network reached 48 million homes, though most of it was laregly regional and had difficulty finding homes on many national providers. Seems it would be a tough sell outside of the local markets for the Pac 12.

Pac 12 and Expansion History: Expansion within the Pac 12 has been rather bland compared to the other conferences. After adding the two Arizona schools in the 1970s, the Pac 12 didn't add members until adding Colorado & Utah in 2011. Both schools were more natural geographic fits even though they weren't on the Pacific coast.

It was widely reported and believed the Pac 12 would expand again and take the Oklahoma schools and 2 Texas schools. These rumors originally prompted Colorado to jump at an invite and leave the Big 12. On two occassions, it appeared the move to 16 would be complete but never came to fruition.

In September of 2011, Pac 12 Commissioner Larry Scott put to bed for the time any further expansion. The reasoning was purely financial as member schools would have saw revenue cut if they had to share with new members.

What Hath Expansion Wrought: Quite simply, a league championship game for football and that's about it. Utah and Colorado have had some football success but nothing sustained. Arizona and ASU had their greatest football years prior to joining the Pac 8. Colorado made the NCAA basketball tournament its 1st season in the Pac 12. Utah finds itself in a massive rebuilding project for hoops.

The Pac 12 has been quiet on the expansion front as of late. With a new TV deal, the Big 12 seems to have found its footing. Some people think it'll be hard to see any schools leave through their current TV deal since moving west would probably cut revenues short term. If the Pac 12 gets itchy to expand, their options seem limited to schools such as BYU and Boise State. Best guess is this one will be the Pac 12 for the near future and will thrive financially. Most schools seem happy with less mouths to feed.

There may be some desire to expand the Pac 12 network but being on the west coast will always work against them and any expansion seems unlikely past the Mississippi and leaving them in flyover country. That being said, they are the dominant force in the nations biggest state and adding a Texas market would increase eyeballs on their product but is it worth it to the current members? I doubt it.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Big XII and Conference Expansion/Decimation

10 teams, 12 teams, new teams, old teams, Big 8, SWC...welcome to the Big 12!

The TV Contracts: The Big 12 currently has TV deals with both ESPN and FOX Sports. They signed a 13-year deal with FOX Sports in 2011 worth a reported $1.2 billion. The contract calls for FOX to double the number of football games they were showing on their various networks that include FX & FSN. FOX also televises games on national FOX on Saturday afternoons or evenings.

The league had a deal with ESPN that ran through 2015-16 that was extended 9 years to coincide with the FOX deal. That deal is reportedly worth $1.3 billion. Between the two deals, each member school receives approx. $21 million per season - that is with the current 10 school structure.

The elephant in the room, of course, is the seperate deal Texas has with ESPN. The both of them created the Longhorn Network. That deal is worth $300 million over 20 years. Much of the recent troubles in the league stem directly from this.

Creation and Recent Troubles: The Big 12 was created in 1994. The 12 original members included all members of the Big 8 and 4 schools from the SWC. Those schools were Texas, Texas A&M, Baylor & Texas Tech. The league began play in 1996.

At the time of creation, the league considered adding New Mexico and BYU as well. They also considered those schools as Texas flirted with the possibility of joining the Pac 10 and A&M with the SEC. Texas lawmakers fought those moves and eventually persuaded them to join the new Big 12 along with Baylor & Tech. Left behind were SMU, Houston, TCU & Rice.

By 2010, their was friction within the conference was mostly between the North schools and South schools. Nebraska thought Texas held too much sway over the conference but a more important problem was the lack of revenue sharing between member schools. On top of that, rumors were rampant that B1G expansion was targeting Nebraska. The Pac 10 was also said to be interested in Texas, Texas A&M, OU & OSU and possibly Baylor.

On June 10th of that year, Colorado announced it was leaving to join the Pac-10. Instead of waiting to see what would become of the Big 12, they jumped so Baylor wouldn't get in before them. A day later, Nebraska left for the Big 10. The rumors of the other schools to the Pac 10 seemed a fait accompli. Eventually, Texas was placated with the ok to create their own network. The surprising note was Oklahoma and Texas A&M had actually been discussing joining the SEC but agreed to stay in the Big 12 and sever discussions with the SEC.

The conference decided to stand pat at 10 teams and end their championship game. A year later, Texas A&M unhappy with the Longhorn network would finally join the SEC. The SEC would add Missouri a few months later in what was a poorly kept secret. More importantly, following the A&M move and ACC expansion, the Pac 10, now Pac 12 was said again to be exploring adding Texas, Texas Tech and the two Oklahoma schools. Once again, the conference teetered but the Pac 12 saved the conference by announcing on September 20, 2011 they would be remaining at 12 schools. In October, member schools agreed to revenue sharing from the conference TV deals.

It also spawned one of college footballs best fake twitter account, @FakeDanBeebe, the beleagured commissioner who was eventually fired.

To replace A&M and Missouri, the league added TCU who was set to join the Big East and took West Virginia from the Big East over Louisville. TCU had not been invited in the original creation. West Virginia had sought membership in the SEC to join with A&M but were rebuffed. Second choices abound.

What Hath Expansion Wrought: Well, complete chaos? The Big 12 is the youngest of the BCS conferences and until last year, seemed destined for exctinction. On top of the mass exodus to the Pac 10, it was rumored the remaining schools (KU, KSU, ISU, BU, Mizzou at the time) would move to the Big East to solidify that conference.

Well, new TV contracts and revenue sharing seems to have quieted things down. In May of this year, rumors ran rampant Florida State were interested in joining the Big 12 and talks of expansion remain alive to get to 12 teams and bring back the conference title game. Both Louisville and Cincinnati would likely be chomping at the bit to join the league should an invite come. Memphis would be, too. In the past, BYU was considered as well and should they give up independence, they'd be an attractive option.

The footing is still shaky and should the Pac 12 decide to expand, one would imagine schools of the Big 12 would be targeted. Should the SEC decide to expand, they set their eyes on Oklahoma before. Would they again? Or will the Big 12 be proactive like the Big 10 and decide to expand before they get decimated and target ACC members or what is left of the Big east carcass?

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Big Ten and Conference Expansion/Decimation

You're the bastards that started this but you're also the ones with a lot of vision. Financial vision that is. A network worth billions and a value that will increase as providers on the east coast, well Maryland and D.C. will be adding you to the basic tier for cable subscribers so they get their Rutgers and Maryland football. Sigh. Okay, Maryland LAX and hoops.

Television Deal: It's the richest in the land and allows Jim Delany to swim in it or ski down the piles of it. Through 2016, the TV deal is worth $3.8 billion with the B1G Network generating $2.8 of that and ESPN paying for another $1 billion to televise Saturday football and basketball throughout the course of the season.

On top of that, the B1G has a TV deal with CBS through 2016-17 that broadcasts 24 appearances by B1G teams in basketball, including 3 wildcard weekends of B1G hoops and the rights to the semi-finals and finals of the B1G tournament. I'm not sure on the financial terms but we get the idea on additional exposure.

Just to cover their bases, the B1G negotiated a deal with FOX to televise the B1G Football Championship game.

The scary thing about the money we're talking about is the position the B1G has put themselves in following 2016-17 basketball. All their primary TV rights will be available for everything not B1G network related that I listed above. Currently, schools are receiving close to 422 million per year with the various TV deals.

Sports Illustrated's Pete Thamel wrote this earlier today:

- Maryland will receive $100 million more in total conference revenue by joining the B1G and leaving the ACC.

- In 2017, Maryland would have received approx. $20 million in league revenue from TV by staying in the ACC. Switching to the B1G, that figure jumps to $43 million.

Get it? That's $5 million more per school than the SEC. Think there aren't other Universities drooling?

B1G and Expansion History: In 1949, the B1G added Michigan State and did nothing until 1990 when the league Presidents voted to expand despite some opposition from its coaches. The choice was Penn State who had been trying to create an Eastern football league (We'll explore this as we dissect the disastrous decisions of the Big East.). Despite its incredible pedigree, there was staunch opposition to adding Penn State as the 11th member. I came across this from an article in the Chicago Tribune written on June 5th, 1990 by Ed Sherman:

The opponents have concerns about Penn State`s inaccessible location in the central Pennsylvania mountains. They worry about the additional expense and missed class time for their student athletes.

If the athletic directors and faculty representatives had been consulted from the beginning, which they weren`t, Bay said the Big 10 still would be at 10 schools.

``Penn State wouldn`t have been a member of the league,`` Bay said. ``I will always be extremely disappointed in the process. The process that developed last December made today`s decision inevitable.

I hate to use LOL, but LOL at all of that. It should also be noted Jim Delany announced in that article the B1G would be changing its name as well.

There was talk soon after of adding a 12th member but a moratorium on expansion was imposed but by 1993, the league had explored adding Kansas, Missouri, Rutgers, Syracuse or Pittsburgh. Despite this and the success of leagues with 12 members and championship games throughout the next 15 years or so, the B1G sat at 11 and did just fine.

In December of 2009, Jim Delany and the B1G announced they would be adding a 12th team. Speculation was rampant. The afforementioned schools topped the list along with surprising names like Nebraska, Maryland, Georgia Tech and even Texas. It seemed far reaching and incredibly unlikely any of those schools would break from georgraphy and traditional rivals.

In June of 2010, it was announced Nebraska had been added as a 12th member. And in November of 2012, Rutgers and Maryland turned the B1G into something else. Unlikely had become reality.

What hath expansion wrought: If we think back to the addition of Penn State, we need to remember what they were in 1990. They had won 2 mythical national championships in the 80s and were perennial contenders as an independent. There was legitimate concern they'd run roughshod over the conference. Well, in 1993, the team went 6-2 in conference. Here's a snapshot of what B1G members thought from the Altoona Mirror, January 24, 2012:

Still, it took time. The first year or two, there was some mistrust and downright enmity between Penn State and the existing members.

Michigan, then the reigning bully in the Big Ten, beat the Nittany Lions 21-13 on Oct. 16, 1993, for their first conference loss. The Wolverines didn't hide their feelings.

"We wanted to welcome Penn State to the Big Ten in a Big Ten fashion, and I think we did that today," center Marc Milia said.

They resented all the attention Penn State was getting in its first season in the Big Ten.

"You just have to pay your dues. Just like a freshman, you can't come in bragging and boasting," said running back Tyrone Wheatley, who rushed for 192 yards in the victory.

The fears were increased in 1994 when Penn State went 8-0 in conference and finished the year by thrashing Oregon in the Rose Bowl and finishing #2 behind Nebraska. But a funny thing happened. While Penn State put national title like teams on the field in 1997 and 98, they didn't play in another Rose Bowl until 2008. Now part of that could have been the decrease in scholarships across the board nationally or decline of JoePa but in the end, the B1G made out like a bandit, adding a national power and brand, notwithstanding recent developments.

The addition of Nebraska in 2011 was similar except this brand of Nebraska wasn't feared but still brought the same national brand cache. A passionate fan base and a national following.

Maryland and Rutgers bring little to nothing to the table as athetic departments. Rutgers is the best of a disatrous Big East and Maryland football, a power in the 1950s has moments of fleeting success but nothing sustained. What Maryland brings unlike the 4 newest brethren is an up-and-coming basketball team but as was noted by basketball people earlier like Fran Fraschilla, one wonders if this the challenge Mark Turgeon was imagining when he took the job. Whatever the case, they are Final 4 contenders by next season. They also have recent success, 2 Final Fours and a National title. They can sell history and playing an Indiana.

I have little doubt expansion is done. Penn State was a prestige grab and Nebraska filled the 12th spot. These two latest editions are merely money grabs and a pawn in TV negotiations, albeit 2 of the best to have. The B1G won't think small fish should they move to 16. It won't be a Cincinnati or Louisville. They could stay in the midwest and head off the SEC by exploring Kansas and they'll certainly be intrigued by a Georgia Tech. With a new TV deal on the horizon, the B1G holds all the chips and the Big 12 and ACC should be very concerned and have contingency plans.

Jim Delany is the Death Star and there ain't no thermal exhaust port

The SEC and Conference Expansion/Decimation

Television Deal: Beginning in 2009, the SEC started new TV deals with both CBS and ESPN. Both deals cover 15 years and a moon full of cash.

The deal with CBS is for $55 million. With this deal, CBS gets the game of the week in SEC football and 14 games in total, including the SEC Championship game. If you think this seems like a lot of money for 14 games, well consider this, this deal doubled what CBS was paying in their prior deal.

The deal with ESPN is much grander and is worth $2.25 BILLION. In inking this deal with ESPN, the SEC and ESPN agreed to create the SEC network. ESPN produces 365 events per year with SEC tie-ins. These include and are not limited to the recent 1-hour documentaries on things such as the Auburn-Alabama rivalry, 40 Minutes of Hell, etc. Why do the work when you can have a pro do it and pay you to do it, no?

ESPN also shows a weekly game on Saturday night in primetime. Before that, many SEC games were broadcast on Raycom which was a regional sports network. Fans of programs nationally had to have a satellite dish to get these games. Not no more, they don't. ESPN also added a 2nd and 3rd night of SEC basketball. ABC also added 2 games and broadcasts the SEC basketball semi-finals and final.

Sugar Bowl Tie-In: Beginning in 2014, the SEC champion and Big 12 champion will face each other in this game for 12 years and will be broadcast on ESPN unless of course, the respective champions make the national playoff, so every year basically.

SEC Expansion History: The SEC voted to expand in May of 1990 following news the B1G was pursuing Penn State. There were other factors, too as conferences had one their freedom to negotiate their own TV deals and became more inclined to following Notre Dame's decision to negotiate their own deal with NBC.

SEC Commissioner Roy Kramer also decided to split the conference into two divisions and play a league championship game at the end of the season. It should be noted, most coaches including Steve Spurrier weren't too hot to this idea. The SEC had the luxury of the large number of attractive options at the time. Schools such as Miami, FSU & South Carolina were still independents. Also, the once-proud SWC was imploding onto itself with probation and increasing irrelevance on the national stage.

The SCE targeted six schools: Miami, FSU, South Carolina, Arkansas and Texas and Texas A&M. Arkansas was the first shoe to drop voting to join and leave the floundering SWC largely on financial grounds. Politics would keep the Texas schools away for the time being. Florida State assuaged Bobby Bowden's fears of playing in a tough conference like the SEC, his words, not mine and passed. There were some sour grapes as well as FSu thought they had been blackballed earlier in keeping them out of the league by Florida. At the time, Miami was inclined to move to the Big East, because they wanted to improve what was a young basketball program at the time. Wow, imagine that. That left South Carolina who had voted to accept membership before they were invited. The year before joining, their athletic department had lost money.

In 1992, the SEC would host the first D-1 league championship game and the rest is history until 2010. Conference armageddon was in full swing and it seemed natural given their success, the SEC would stand pat. At the time, rumors hinted Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State were going to leave the Big 12 following Nebraska out the door except joining the Pac-12. The Big 12 was imploding on itself it seemed but eventually OU and Texas re-committed to the conference but rumors began to circulate that Texas A&M wanted out of the shadow of big brother Texas and had actually contacted the SEC about joining their conference.

By fall of 2011, the rumors had come to fruition and A&M joined the SEC. The running joke was A&M was fearful of the Longhorn Network Texas had created with ESPN (More on this later). Whatever the case, the SEC sold this move on the merits of establishing an "imprint" and "foothold" into the Texas market. It also became clear they'd be adding a 14th school. Early indications seemed it'd be West Virginia but the league targeted Missouri and its 2 Top-30 TV markets in Kansas City and St. Louis. Yup. KC and St. Louis. Eventually, Missouri would be admitted as the 14th member and West Virginia was Big 12 bound. Midwest TVs > West Virginia.

What hath expansion wrought: Initial expansion of South Carolina and Arkansas and the creation of a league championship game turned the SEC into an outright football juggernaught. By 1995, the league was able to ink an exclusive deal with CBS. Alabama, Florida & Tennessee all won mythical national championships in the 90's. It's hard to remember, but the first two league title games were played at Legion Field in Birmingham. In 1994, it moved to the Georgia Dome where it has remained until this date and has become one of the hotter tickets of the year, though, not always.

As for basketball, Arkansas joined as a national power in the making and eventually won a real national title in 1994. They have cooled significantly since and South Carolina has been largely an afterthought and was eliminated in the 1st round in 1997 & 98 as a 2 and 3 seed respectively and haven't been very good since. Still, with Kentucky and Florida, the conference has had a ton of recent success. 2012-13 appears to be another good year. Expansion for the hardwood is just another team to beat for KU and Florida but don't think the $ from TV doesn't help the other schools hire coaches like Frank Martin and improve facilities.

Many scoffed at A&M playing with the "big boys" of the SEC but is a few points away being undefeated in league play having lost close games to Florida and LSU at home. As of this moment, Johnny Manziel is the Heisman front runner as a redshirt Freshmen. Could it have happened in the Big 12 on a two-loss team not playing for a league championship? RGIII won last year at Baylor but was a senior, so who knows but it doesn't hurt. A&M recognized they needed a brain trust upgrade and AD Bill Byrne went out and got Kevin Sumlin, one of the best young minds in college football. He can hit the roads in Texas against beleagured Mack Brown and sell SEC football. long considered a potential football giant, A&M may become that in the SEC.

Quite frankly, adding Missouri is like the B1G adding Rutgers or Maryland. "Imprint" and "Foothold" BS with occassional basketball success, though not as good as Maryland but not appreciably worse.

Of all the conferences, the SEC set the mold for expansion taking control of their region and creating a brand that is quite frankly, the gold standard in college athletics, off court issues not included. While other leagues chase new markets, the SEC is in a fast growing market based on population and available athletes. They have those so important "imprints" in Florida, the deep south, the Carolina coast, Texas and now even into the midwest, coughs.

If and when they decide to go to 16 teams, the brand will possibly become diluted. It has with A&M and Mizzou but don't think schools like FSU, Clemson or even the Oklahoma schools aren't real options. As I write this, the FSU president has already noted he'll watch the Maryland exit process and they voted against the $50 million fee. Like the B1G, this league won't be getting poached but will probably have schools calling them.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The ACC & Conference Expansion/Decimation

With yesterday's news of a possible/pending move by Maryland & Rutgers, I became intrigued even more by what is driving this and the effect it has had. I'm going to spend some time reviewing each of the BCS conferences and try to illustrate what is happening. Who is getting what? What have been the results? What is the future?

Today, I start with the ACC and will move across the nation, saving the Big East for last. I have a busy schedule the next week so this may be sporadically done.

TV CONTRACT: Earlier this year, the ACC signed a new TV deal with ESPN/ACC for a reported $3.6 billion. The deal runs through 2026/27. With 14 teams, each school is scheduled to receive $17.1 million per school in TV revenue.

This new deal was negotiated after the addition of Syracuse & Pittsburgh in September of 2011. Prior to that, the ACC had a TV deal with ESPN/ACC signed in July of 2010. That deal guaranteed each ACC member school $12.9 million per year in TV revenue. Member schools increased their revenue by roughly $4 million through the addition of Syracuse & Pittsburgh. Syracuse & Pittsburgh would negotiate with the Big East an early exit fee of $7.5 million to the Big East by each school so they could join the ACC in the summer of 2013.

The TV deal includes 3 Friday games per season in football and an annual Friday afternnon or night game the day following Thanksgiving. ESPN/ACC will also televise an additional 30 basketball games per season. ESPN will also have the ability to shop sponsorship rights to the ACC football title game. They can shop the rights to the ACC basketball tournament as well. It has never been sponsored corporately. The ACC can deny any sponsor they choose for basketball but not for football.

The Notre Dame factor: In September of this year, Notre Dame agreed to leave the Big East in all varsity sports and join the ACC in 2014 in all sports except football and hockey. The ACC previously required all members to play all varsity sports within the ACC.

Notre Dame also agreed to 5 games against ACC schools each season. In return, Notre Dame was granted access to the Orange Bowl and all non-BCS affiliated Bowl games with tie-ins to the ACC. More on this in a moment.

After adding Notre Dame, a vote was held by the ACC to implement a $50 million exit fee should any school decide to leave the conference. The measure passed 12-2 with only Florida State and Maryland voting against.

Orange Bowl affiliation: Beginning in 2015, the ACC champion or Notre Dame will play in the Orange Bowl against the highest rated BCS team from the SEC, B1G or Notre Dame. Notre Dame can only take this slot 2 times in a 12 year period. Also, since Notre Dame will be playing 5 ACC teams a year, the Bowl maintains the right to skip a repeat should Notre Dame be chosen to play.

ACC Expansion History:

Florida State joined in 1992 leaving behind years of independence and brought instant credibility to the conference for football. Prior to joining, the ACC stood at 8 schools and was largely known as a basketball conference. And deservedly so. Florida State would prove so dominant in football, they went undefeated in their 1st 3 seasons in conference play winning 29 straight to start their ACC history not losing until a memorable Thursday night game in Virginia in 1995.

Florida State would go on to win 9 straight ACC titles (They shared in 1995 & 1998) in a row until Maryland ended their stranglehold in 2001. The addition of the Seminoles was a rousing success as the Seminoles won mythical national titles in 1993 & 1999 and produced Heisman Trophy winners in 1993 & 2000.

By 2003, Florida State's grip on the conference in football began to slip. Coincidentally enough, early in 2003, Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese announced the ACC had begun courting schools to join the ACC in hopes of getting to 12 teams and creating a conference large enough to play a conference title game in football. The title game in the Big 12 and SEC had proven to be wildly successful and lucrative. Shortly after this, the ACC added Miami, FL and Virginia Tech for 2004 and Boston College in 2005. This allowed the conference to split into two divisions for football and create its title game.

In Septemeber of 2011, a bombshell was announced when it was reported Syracuse and Pittsburgh would be joining the ACC. By doing so, the ACC had truly become coastal up and down the east coast and were able to add a market in Pennsylvania, a football rich state. As noted earlier, Pittsburgh and Syracuse were able to negotiate an early exit from the Big East. Finally, Notre Dame became a 15th member a year later save football and hockey.

ACC and the Results of Expansion: The addition of Florida State was a coup for the conference giving them a national title presence for nearly a decade. The basketball team proved adept as well hardly bringing the conference down.

As for adding Virginia Tech, Miami and BC, the results have been mixed at best. None of the schools have added much on the hardwood and the anticpation of FSU and Miami playing yearly in the league championship game in football never materialized as FSU grew stagnant under Bobby Bowden and Miami suffered through mediocore coaches and NCAA investigations. Virginia Tech has won the most titles of any school since the title game was adopted, winning 3. FSU has only 1 and Miami has 0. This certainly was not what was hoped for or expected and the title game itself has had trouble attracting fans.

Also, we laugh at the names of the conferences in the B1G for football but can you name what teams play in the ACC divisions? Can you name them? They're the Coastal and Atlantic becausde they're on a coast, the Atlantic coast. Brand success? Shouldn't it include being able to recognize its divisions?

In basketball, the ACC has 3 national titles under its belt with 2 for UNC and 1 for Duke but the conference itself hasn't been that good or as good as it was prior to expansion. The "others" that had contended in the past, Georgia Tech, Maryland and Wake Forest had all slipped pretty dramtically. Tech, Miami & BC had some success but nothing that resulted in a period of extended success or matching the levels of the schools not on Tobacco Road.

The Future: When the B1G initially announced it would exlpore adding a 12th team, Maryland & Georgia Tech were schools considered. Though it came as a bit of a surprise Maryland was being targeted, they fit in many ways with the B1G. They provide a new market and bring the B1G network to the DC area on a standard cable tier. That increases TV revenue for the conference regarless of actual viewers.

Stories began circulating today Georgia Tech may actually be favored over Rutgers should the B1G expand. Like Maryland, it would create a big foothold in Georgia. Tech will never surpass Georgia in popularity but again, it increases revenue for the B1G if it happened. Also, Tech and Maryland are fits academically. This makes it easier for the Presidents of the B1G to sell since they are AAU members.

Last night, Dennis Dodd of posted a story the B1G would actually target North Carolina as well, even it meant in football only. How would the ACC react to that? Could it be done? Does any of this matter to Notre Dame long term?

What it does say is, the ACC despite their hefty exit fee, is still ripe for the picking. The ACC would likely react quickly if any school left. UConn would no doubt jump at a moment's notice. Should Rutgers get left behind, they'd be a natural fit as well. Bottom line, the money elsewhere might be too good long term, not to take a short term hit.

As for the play, football won't be appreciably better by adding perennial underachievers Pittsburgh and Syracuse, though both are considered potential sleeping giants. But, Notre Dame will give them exposure, if not league games. Still, seems they give more to Notre Dame than they get, at least in football.

As for basketball, they're easily the best conference in the nation if the status quo remains beginning in 2013. Should they lose an up-and-coming Maryland team, they would likely add UConn. Tough to say how UConn moves on without Jim Calhoun who lorded over that program. A force of nature, can they succeed without him? Storrs, CT before him wasn't a basketball hot spot.

The future of the ACC is murky at best. Expansion increased TV revenue but it still lags behind the other big boy conferences. Maryland voted no on increasing the exit fee and months later appear on the verge of leaving. What can we take from FSU doing the same? Would they jump at joining the Big 12? The SEC? Time will tell but to expect the status quo in the ACC seems foolish.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Maryland & Rutgers continue the conference shuffle??

Reports from ESPN's Brett McMurphy this morning indicate Maryland and Rutgers are in advance talks to join the B1G and an announcement could come as early as Monday. McMurphy has been spot on when reporting about this stuff and by this afternoon, twitter exploded with this story as Yahoo's Pat Forde confirmed the story.

That would leave the ACC at 13 until they decide to add, say a UConn or maybe go after Louisville or South Florida. Either way, another nail in the coffin of the Big East.

You'll hear the phrases, "TV markets", "geographical imprint". It's nonsense. Nobody watches Maryland or Rutgers play football, even when they're good. Maryland basketball is another story. I'll be curious to see the reaction from the HS coaches in that region. They send a lot of players to the ACC, not the B1G. Trust me, the ACC may lose Maryland but whoever they add, will easily replace them on both the football and basketball narrative.

I think it's a terrible fit and choices. Had I been targeting schools and looking to expand "TV markets" and "geographical imprint", you go south with the population. Also, the Big Ten really needs to change its name then. Big $ is my choice or as Stewart Mandel suggested, BIg Time Warner, Big Comcast, etc.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Duke - Kentucky

Let's always remember

Duke - Kentucky

Let's all remember together....

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Preseason Bracketology

1 seed vs 16 seed
Indiana (B1G) vs PrairieView(SWAC)/Montana(Bsky)
Kansas (Big12) vs SavannahSt(MEAC)/Vermont(Aeast)
UNLV (Mwest) vs Charleston Southern (Bsouth)
Kentucky (SEC) vs Long Island (NEC)
2 seed vs 15 seed
Louisville vs Mercer (Asun)
Notre Dame (Beast) vs Princeton (Ivy)
Duke (ACC) vs Loyola (MAAC)
Syracuse vs Oral Roberts (Sland)
3 seed vs 14 seed
North Carolina State vs LeHigh (Patriot)
Florida vs North Texas (Sbelt)
San Diego State vs Drexel (Colonial)
Arizona (Pac12) vs Long Beach State (Bwest)
4 seed vs 13 seed
UCLA vs Valparasio (Horizon)
Ohio State vs Davidson (SoCon)
North Carolina vs Denver (WAC)
Michigan vs South Dakota State (Summit)
5 seed vs 12 seed
Tennessee vs Iowa/Colordo
Michigan State vs Marshall/Illinois State
Missouri vs Arkansas
Gonzaga (WCC) vs Ohio (MAC)
6 seed vs 11 seed
Creighton (Mvalley) vs Butler
Memphis (Cusa) vs Colorado State
Wisconsin vs Stanford
Marquette vs Minnesota
7 seed vs 10 seed
Florida State vs St. Mary's
Texas vs Temple
Kansas State vs California
Pittsburgh vs Murray State (OVC)
8 seed vs 9 seed
VCU (A10) vs Miami
West Virginia vs BYU
St. Louis vs Georgetown
Cinncinati vs Baylor

First Four Out
South Florida
St. Joseph's
Next Four Out
Oklahoma State
Also Considered
Utah State

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

How the locals fare...

UWM - Um, yeah. They're moving back to the Klotsche Center. Okay. For a school that thinks big, this seems odd. As for the team, they're a middle of the road Horizon team that means no post-season is likely.

UWGB - Green Bay came on strong in league play and the second half of their season last year. Led by a real big man, 7' 1" Alec Brown, the Phoenix have an outside shot at taking the Horizon league title and at the very least, will be a legitimate contender in the conference tournament. They're a solid 3rd in the Horizon behind Valpo and Detroit.

Wisconsin - A brutal off-season continued as they lost Josh Gasser for the season and Sideshow Mike for a month. The Vampire also got bad press for how he handled the Uthoff transfer but they do add Sam Dekker who is light years more talented than Gasser. People are expecting big things from "The Creature" Jared Berggren but, eh. Most Wisconsin big men top out by their 3rd year and show little improvement beyond that. I'd probaby expect a bigger jump from Frank Kaminsky. Zach Bohannon should provide solid minutes. They're high on George Marshall and most guys can handle the ball anyway. Projected 5th or 6th, you can always expect a higher finish out of them. Again, offense, while efficient, will be an issue. We hear every year how much more they'll get to the line and rarely do. Dekker will have to be that guy. I don't think a Sweet 16 trip is out of the question.

Marquette - Not to be outdone by their Madison neighbors, SG Todd Mayo was declared academically ineligible this week. More a depth issue than anything, methinks Mayo's time in Milwaukee may be over. The Warriors lost Big East POY Jae Crowder and DJO but added Trent Lockett late of ASU who should replace some of the scoring from the perimeter. FROSH Steve Taylor should see some serious court time and will be expected to contribute. Barring further injuries, they get Chris Otule for the season and Davante Gardner as well. They should be solid down low. Vander Blue is expected to take a larger role and early reports indicate a hard working off-season and a big jump is expected. Junior Cadougan runs the point. Good Cadougan usually results in wins and vice versa. Buzz will need a lot more good Cadougan. The next go-to-guy for the Warriors will be Jamil Wilson. From Hayward-to-Butler-to-Wilson, the beat goes on. Don't be surprised if he is a Big East first teamer. Marquette should be good for between 10-12 wins in the Big East with a Sweet 16 trip as the ceiling. But get excited, they have a top 5 class coming in next year to go with SR's Blue, Wilson & Gardner.



Kansas Jayhawks
Missouri Tigers
Syracuse Orange
UNLV Running Rebels


Louisville Cardinals
Kentucky Wildcats
Indiana Hooisers
Arizona Wildcats

Louisville over Kentucky (Now, that would be something)

Preseason Predictions

Elite Eight:
Duke Blue Devils
UNLV Runnin Rebels
Louisville Cardinals
Kentucky Wildcats
Final Four:
Kansas Jayhawks
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Indiana Hoosiers
Syracuse Orange

Championship Game
Kansas over Syracuse

Monday, November 5, 2012

In Summary, Kind Of.

So, going through and logging all of the conference previews and at large bids here's what we have so far:

Rank Conference Champion

1 Big 10 Indiana
2 SEC Kentucky
3 ACC Duke
4 Big East Notre Dame
5 Big 12 Kansas
6 Mountain West UNLV
7 Pac 10 Arizona
8 Atlantic 10 VCU
9 West Coast Gonzaga
10 Missouri Valley Creighton
11 C-USA Memphis
12 Ohio Valley Murray State
13 MAC Ohio
14 WAC Denver
15 Summit South Dakota State
16 Southern Davidson
17 Colonial Drexel
18 Horizon Valparasio
19 Sun Belt North Texas
20 Patriot Lehigh
21 Big West Long Beach State
22 MAAC Loyola MD
23 Southland Oral Roberts
24 Atlantic Sun Mercer
25 NorthEast Long Island
26 Ivy League Princeton
27 Big South Charleston Southern
28 American East Vermont
29 Big Sky Montana
30 MEAC Savannah State
31 SWAC Prairie View
32 At-Large Michigan
33 At-Large North Carolina State
34 At-Large Tennessee
35 At-Large Syracuse
36 At-Large West Virginia
37 At-Large Colorado State
38 At-Large Stanford
39 At-Large Temple
40 At-Large St. Mary's
41 At-Large Ohio State
42 At-Large North Carolina
43 At-Large Florida
44 At-Large Louisville
45 At-Large Texas
46 At-Large San Diego State
47 At-Large UCLA
48 At-Large St. Louis
49 At-Large BYU
50 At-Large Illinois State
51 At-Large California
52 At-Large Butler
53 At-Large Michigan State
54 At-Large Miami
55 At-Large Missouri
56 At-Large Cincinnati
57 At-Large Kansas State
58 At-Large Wisconsin
59 At-Large Florida State
60 At-Large Arkansas
61 At-Large Marquette
62 At-Large Baylor
63 At-Large Minnesota
64 At-Large Georgetown
65 At-Large Pittsburgh

Keeping in mind there are 68 bids available we have 3 open spots lefts to choose from.  I'll let Kurly nominate 3 of his own in his post.  As for me I'm going with Iowa, Marshall, and Colorado.   Coming soon, my Final Four predictions and the first bracket of the year!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

1: THE B1G

Fresh off sending 4 teams to the Sweet 16, the B1G tops our pre-season rankings of conferences. From top-to-bottom, it should be the best conference again. Indiana, Michigan & Ohio State all are Final Four capable and Wisconsin, Minnesota & Michigan State are all solid choices fo the NCAA tournament.

Iowa and Illinois will be bubble teams. Iowa is definitely on the upswing behind head coach Fran McCaffery but they do lose G Matt Gatens. But, McCaffery brings in FR. PG Mike Gesell and 7'1' local big man Adam Woodbury who was being heavily recruited by North Carolina. This is a good sign for the Iowa faithful who watched Harrison Barnes leave. Illinois brings in new coach John Groce. Groce is a former Ohio State assistant and is familiar with the territory. If the roster buys in, there's enough talent for them to get a bid.

Wisconsin loses Josh Gasser for the season and Sideshow Mike for a month or so but have more than enough talent to compensate. Computers still like them and Sam Dekker may end up being the best player Bo ever recruited. But like other Badger teams, consistent scoring will be an issue. MSU loses Draymond Green but are a very deep team. And never bet against Izzo. Minnesota's entire season revolves around whether or not Trevor Mbakwe's knee holds up and he stays out of jail. Big year for Tubby Smith.

Ohio State loses Jared Sullinger and William Buford but retain gritty PG Aaron Craft (gritty = Craft, get use to it) and explosive Deshaun Thomas who some think could be among the nation's leading scorers. Thad Matta keeps getting older but the talent level stays the same.

Michigan is a trendy pick but there are legit questions about their offense which struggled mightily at times last season. Getting SOPH PG Trey Burke back was the key to the off-season but they need more consistency out of Tim Hardaway, Jr. The frontline has been soft under Beilein but FROSH Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson, Jr. should alleviate some of those concerns. They also get Jon Horford back who missed last season with injuries. Hardaway, Horford, Robinson. You're old.

Finally, Indiana is back. Cody Zeller is a consensus All-American and pre-season Player of the Year. The talent level in Bloomington is the deepest it's been since the early 1990's. Jordan Hulls and Christian Watford are the SR's who played through the dark years and now are reaping the benefits. Both will be looking to go from the bottom to the top. Don't bet against them. As for their head coach...well, a trip to the Final 4 would cement him amongst the nation's best but should they fail to do that this year...Keep an eye on Yogi Ferrell, a FROSH PG.

The blue bloods have risen. Kentucky and Indiana are back on top. UCLA might be back and Kansas will be the favorite in the Big 12. Carolina and Duke will be forces in the ACC. For that, college basketball fans should be excited for what shapes up to be a potentially great season.

SEC Time

I put the SEC ahead of the ACC because I think they have 3 Final 4 quality teams and 1 who could be that good as well. Those 3 teams are Kentucky, Missouri & Florida. Tennessee is the other. Arkansas looks good enough to make it as well. After that, it's pretty weak.

Alabama should be good enough to be in the conversation come March but probably is a play-in or low seed. Five star recruit Devonta Pollard could be a super frosh outside of Kentucky who steals some thunder in the SEC. Ole Miss is a solid squad who will also be in the conversation. They haven't been dancing since 2002, the longest drought in the SEC.

The rest of the league, eh. Texas A&M is young in the backcourt and went a disapointing 4-12 in conference in their last year in the Big 12. Vandy and South Carolina are going through massive rebuilding and reloading and Georgia and Auburn appear stuck in neutral. Mississippi State is a train wreck. LSU hired North Texas coach Johnny Jones who played under Dale Brown but he has only 9 scholarship players.

As for the Final 4 contenders, what can we say about Kentucky? Lose 6 players to the NBA and put together a roster capable of going to another Final 4. Nerlens Noel will get compared to Anthony Davis but isn't as good but is still a potential All-American. NC State transfer Ryan Harrow takes over at the point and while not as sectacular as his predecessors, he's still an electric player with quickness, hops and a better shooter.

Missouri brings 3 players back but add a slew of talented transfers including big man Alex Oriahki (UConn), G Jabari Brown (Oregon) and former Auburn leading scorer, G Earnest Ross. And they bring back dynamic PG Phil Pressey. Pressey is the floor general and the emotional leader of the Tigers.

Florida needs a great season from Patric Young who flirted with the NBA. The big man has holes in his offensive games but could be a SEC POY candidate. Kenny Boynton is the team leader and should Casey Prather become the player he shows in March, they'll be a threat to Kentucky.

Tennessee gets a full season out of F Jarnell Stokes who joined the Vols late last year. He made an immediate impact and big things are expected of him. He teams in the frontcourt with Madison native Jerrone Maymon who has had a solid career at Tennessee The Vols have questions in the backcourt bt Stokes is good enough to be a guy who carries ateam deep.