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Memphis moving to Big East, but can it thrive there?

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Memphis spent the last decade or so trying to join the Big East. Other BCS conferences were occasionally rumored, but it was always the Big East. It’s a basketball-rich league (Georgetown, UConn, Villanova) that added former Memphis rivals Louisville and Cincinnati in the mid-2000s. Makes sense.

Now it’s actually happening. Memphis will join the Big East starting with the 2013-14 season. Hoopheads often wondered how the Tigers would fare in a stronger conference – especially during John Calipari’s final four seasons. Now we’ll find out.

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Josh Pastner might be a little nervous by the idea.

As Gary Parrish notes, the move is great for Big East hoops, Memphis hoops and fans overall. But the days of pushing around the rest of the league are over. They had been for a few years, but now they’re really over. And recruiting? The Tigers will be on ESPN far more often, but now Pastner’s vying for prospects against coaches like Jay Wright, Rick Pitino, JT III and the rest of the league. (Not having to compete with Syracuse, Pitt and West Virginia helps a little.)

Pastner, 34, is still learning the ropes as a coach. Memphis was his first job as a head coach and he’s only halfway through his third season. He already has proven himself as a more than capable recruiter, but this is a different league with higher stakes. It’s almost like the dream of joining another league loomed for so long, it seemed like it might never happen.

Still, Pastner might be the least of Memphis’ worries compared to its wreck of a football program.

Memphis is kinda like Robert Redford in “The Candidate.” What now? Were we really prepared for this possibility? (Political movie aside: Why “The Ides of March” didn’t get more acclaim last fall is beyond me. Great flick.)

Memphis can handle the move. It has the financial resources and Pastner’s a tireless worker. But will it thrive? That’s the big question.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

VIDEO: Monmouth hits a game-winner, Bench Mob member tries to disrobe

King Rice
AP
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Monmouth used a 17-2 run in the final minutes to beat Rider on Friday night, a win that will keep the Hawks within striking distance of the kind of an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament should they fall in the MAAC tourney.

The run was capped by star point guard Justin Robinson, who buried this three with three seconds left to put Monmouth up for good, 79-78:

No. 17 Arizona erases double-digit deficit to beat UCLA

Arizona coach Sean Miller reacts to a foul call during the first half of Arizona's NCAA college basketball game against UCLA, Friday, Feb 12, 2016, in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
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Allonzo Trier scored 15 of his 18 points in the second half and Parker Jackson-Cartwright scored 16 points in his second career start as No. 17 Arizona knocked off UCLA, 81-75, in Tucson on Friday night.

UCLA was up by as much as 11 points in the first half and took a ten point lead into half time, but in the second half, the Bruins were eventually done in by foul trouble and the stronger front line of the Wildcats.

Ryan Anderson and Kaleb Tarczewski were dominant down the stretch. The duo combined to score 12 of the last 23 point for the Wildcats, including the bucket that put the Wildcats ahead for the first time since early in the first half. Off of a missed free throw, UCLA’s Thomas Welsh battled with Tarczewski for the rebound, but when Welsh finally seemed to gain control of the loose ball, Anderson knocked it out of his hands and bullied through Jonah Bolden for a layup.

All told, those two combined for 20 points and 27 boards, seven of which were offensive. They also managed to foul out both Welsh and Tony Parker, although some of the calls that went against UCLA down the stretch were questionable.

The win keeps Arizona within a game of first place Oregon in the Pac-12 standings and tied for second with No. 23 USC, who will be visiting the McKale Center on Sunday night.