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How will the Big East and its nine teams fare?

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There seem to be vehement defenders on both sides of the argument. Some say the Big East is deserving of the nine bids it received this year. Some are quick to call it the most overrated conference in the nation.

Detractors approve of the committee’s denial of Seton Hall, though may not be so overjoyed about South Florida’s admittance. Some even went as far as to say Connecticut didn’t deserve a spot.

What’s the verdict? CollegeBasketballTalk breaks down what some Big East teams are looking at in the NCAA tournament:

Best Chance to End Up in New Orleans: No. 1 Syracuse

The Orange are ranked second in the nation and, despite losing in the Big East tournament to Cincinnati, you can’t deny what they bring to the table.

With their lethal transition attack and a future NBA lottery pick in Dion Waiters, Syracuse could make its way through the East region and make it to the Final Four. The biggest obstacle I see is Vanderbilt.

Just as Vanderbilt beat an athletic Kentucky team to win the SEC title, the Commodores could shoot well from the outside and Festus Ezeli could be the same type of inside presence as Yancy Gates, who powered Cincinnati to an upset over Syracuse in the Big East tournament.

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Toughest First Matchup: No. 9 Connecticut vs. No. 8 Iowa State

The Huskies had the toughest schedule in the nation this season, so it seems only right that they would draw a tough Iowa State team in the Round of 64.

With multi-talented Royce White running the show for the Cyclones and capable shooters from the outside, the Huskies won’t be able to relax on the defensive end.

The winner will most likely have a matchup with No. 1 Kentucky.

Most Likely to Get Upset: No. 3 Georgetown vs. No. 14 Belmont

Belmont is a high-scoring dark horse out of the Atlantic Sun Conference that, if they get in a shootout with Georgetown, could send the Hoyas home early.

The Bruins move the ball well and are in the top five in the country in assists per game and in the top thirty in field goal percentage. Kerron Johnson is a name to watch for Belmont.

Team That Barely Snuck In But Has Something To Prove: No. 12 South Florida

Analysts debated whether South Florida should get in, but they now find themselves in a First Four game against Pac 12 opponent California.

Coach Stan Heath said during the Big East tournament that he loves his team’s grinding, slow pace where no one player is averaging double figures in scoring.

If South Florida is able to beat Cal, they will meet Temple in the Round of 64. The Bulls have been written off so far because of their perceived lack of strength in scheduling, but this NCAA tournament will give them a chance to prove critics wrong.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Five-star 2017 guard Lonnie Walker cuts list to five schools

Men's U18 trials head shots and team photo on 6.15.16
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Five-star shooting guard Lonnie Walker is coming off of a very good summer as he trimmed his list to five schools on Thursday night.

The 6-foot-4 native of Reading, Pennsylvania is still considering Arizona, Kentucky, Miami, Syracuse and Villanova, he announced on Twitter.

Regarded as the No. 26 overall prospect in the Class of 2017, Walker played with Team Final in the Nike EYBL this spring and summer as he averaged 16.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. Walker shot 45 percent from the field, 39 percent from three-point range and 72 percent from the free-throw line.

An efficient scorer who is learning to drive with both hands, Walker is very talented and the type of guard who might also be able to handle a bit as well.

VIDEO: Jim Boeheim makes TV appearance to talk Carmelo Anthony

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Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim has drawn attention for some recent comments about former Orange star Carmelo Anthony.

After Anthony captured his record third gold medal with USA Basketball, his former college coach told Mike Waters of the Syracuse Post-Standard that Anthony didn’t have a great chance at winning an NBA title.

“He’s unlikely to win an NBA title,” Boeheim said of Anthony. “He’s never been on a team that even had a remote chance of winning an NBA title.”

Boeheim maintains that he was speaking of Melo’s legacy being about more than an NBA title and that he’s one of the game’s greats thanks to other accomplishments like the Syracuse title and gold medals. On SportsCenter, Boeheim made sure to stress where those comments were coming from, while also making sure his kids would stop being mad at him.

It’s much easier to understand where Boeheim is coming from in this instance and it clears up something that will probably go away now.

Big Ten releases conference schedule

CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 22:  Head coach Tom Izzo of the Michigan State Spartans reacts against the Virginia Cavaliers during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Time Warner Cable Arena on March 22, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
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The Big Ten released its 2016-17 conference schedule on Thursday as the conference season begins on Dec. 27 with a four-game set.

Conference play will conclude on March 5th before the 20th annual Big Ten Tournament is played at the Verizon Center in Washington D.C. from March 8-12.

Some notable games include Penn State hosting Michigan State at the Palestra on Jan. 7.

You can view the full Big Ten schedule here.

Arizona’s Talbott Denny injures knee, out for season

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TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) Arizona senior forward Talbott Denny will miss the season after tearing the ACL and medial meniscus in his left knee.

The school said Wednesday that the 6-foot-5 graduate transfer from Lipscomb will have surgery.

Denny, from Tucson’s Salpointe Catholic High School, missed all of last season at Lipscomb because of a shoulder injury.

Roy Williams: ‘There’s no question’ more ACC games equal no Kentucky in non-conference

SAN ANTONIO, TX - MARCH 23: Head coach Roy Williams of the North Carolina Tar Heels looks on during the third round of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament against the Iowa State Cyclones at the AT&T Center on March 23, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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Back in June, when the ACC officially announced that they would be expanding the league schedule to 20 games in 2019, I tried to warn you that it was going to put a dent into the non-conference schedule and the amount of quality, on-campus games that we’ll get prior to January.

Roy Williams essentially confirmed this as fact this week.

The North Carolina head coach hopped on a podcast with ESPN and more or less said that the bigger league schedule is going to lead to an end of some of UNC’s marquee home-and-home series.

“My feeling right now, and it could change by ’19, heck I could be fired by ’19, but my feeling right now is to play our conference schedule, play one exempt event where you have really good teams, and other than that play home games to help out your revenue and help out your budget,” Williams said. “We have the ACC/Big Ten and that’s not going to go away. So it’s 21 games already scheduled.”

When asked specifically if this would put an end to UNC’s series with Kentucky, Williams said, “Oh yeah, there’s no question. Why would I need to do that?”

There’s two reasons this makes sense. On the one hand, North Carolina needs to fill their home arena a certain number of times to help with the bottom line of the athletic department. They make enough off of ticket sales, merchandise sales, parking fees and food and beverage that they can afford to pay out more than $50,000 to bring a smaller opponent into their arena. More than that, playing a series of weaklings early in the year allows players to gain confidence, it allows Williams to figure out what his rotation will be and who can handle playing at this level, and it gives newcomers a chance to assimilate into his team against players that just aren’t that good.

And when a larger ACC schedule severely limits the number of non-conference games that UNC will be able to play, what’s going to get cut are the contracts that require the Tar Heels to play on the road when they don’t have to.

So buh-bye, Kentucky, it is.