Harrison Barnes, Lorenzo Brown

Wolfpack to Blue Devils and Tar Heels: I can’t quit you

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The ACC basketball schedule has not been particularly pleasing to the eye for some time now. It’s no different than in any other mega-league caught up in expansion fever over the past several years – the addition of new teams ruined the old formula of playing each league foe twice.

With Pitt and Syracuse coming in (maybe sooner than had previously been believed) there will be even fewer league home-and-home pairings. That means that some league coaches are making the best of next year’s 18-game league schedule without extra partners, while they still can.

N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried, for instance, made darn sure that his Wolfpack will play home-and-home with long-time regional foes Duke, North Carolina and Clemson. He was quite candid about the fact that he traded floundering Virginia Tech away for the chance to play marquee matchups that will, not coincidentally, improve his team’s tournament profile and provide more appealing TV matchups.

Some other ACC coaches weighed in on the upcoming schedule changes in an article written by ESPN.com’s Andy Katz:

“I don’t know if there’s an easy answer,” said Clemson’s Brad Brownell. Brownell’s unbalanced schedule has his four single games being Wake Forest and North Carolina at home and Duke and Maryland on the road.

“Everyone wants the true round-robin, but we can’t in these big conferences,” Brownell said. “You’re not going to have a true champion.”

Maryland, which should still be young but improved next season, also got a heavy schedule: Duke, Virginia, North Carolina and Florida State twice, according to coach Mark Turgeon.

“Mine’s not easy,” Turgeon said. “But I don’t know how else you could do it.”

There’s obviously no more room for nostalgia in collegiate sports these days. But we can enjoy one last season of the Tobacco Road hate triangle before the inevitable future arrives. Maybe.

Syracuse receives mixed news on sanctions appeals

Jim Boeheim
Associated Press
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Wednesday the NCAA made its ruling on two¬†appeals of sanctions made by Syracuse University, with the news being mixed for the men’s basketball program.

On the positive side the NCAA ruled that Syracuse will be docked two scholarships per season for the next four years, as opposed to the original ruling of three. As a result Jim Boeheim’s program only has to account for the loss of eight total scholarships, meaning that they’ll have 11 to fill in each of the next four seasons as opposed to ten.

One scholarship may not seem like a big deal, but in a sport where you only get 13 (when not dealing with sanctions) getting that grant-in-aid back really helps from a recruiting standpoint.

As for the negatives, they both concern Boeheim. Not only has there yet to be a ruling on Boeheim’s appeal of his nine-game suspension that goes into effect when ACC play begins in January (that appeal is being heard separately), but the appeal to reinstate the wins that were vacated as part of the sanctions was denied. As a result Boeheim officially has 868 wins instead of 969 (not counting today’s game against Charlotte).

And with Mike Hopkins set to take over as head coach in 2018, the denial means that college basketball will have to wait quite some time before anyone threatens to join Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski in the 1,000 wins club.

While not having the wins officially reinstated does hurt, getting a scholarship back for each of the next four seasons is a bigger deal when it comes to the long-term health of the Syracuse program. Also of great importance will be the ruling regarding Boeheim’s suspension, as a suspended coach is not allowed to have any contact with his players or coaching staff while serving the penalty.

And with the original ruling due to take up half of Syracuse’s league slate, not having Boeheim (or the chance to speak with him) is a big deal when it comes to this current team.

St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe cleared by NCAA

Chris Mullin
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
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St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe has been cleared by the NCAA to play this season and will be eligible immediately, the school announced on Wednesday.

Yakwe is a 6-foot-8 forward that reclassified and enrolled at St. John’s this fall. He attended the same high school as Kansas forward Cheick Diallo, who was also cleared by the NCAA to play today.

St. John’s played in the Maui Invitational this week, and Yakwe did not take part. His first game with the Johnnies will be on Dec. 2nd against Fordham if the program plans to play his this season.

The question that must be asked, however, is whether or not he will suit up or simply redshirt. The Johnnies are in the midst of a serious rebuild and will be without their other elite recruit this season, Marcus Lovett. Lovett was ruled a partial qualifier. Would it make sense to burn a year of eligibility on what make amount to a wasted season, or will head coach Chris Mullin opt to save that year for down the road?