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The Big East does get one thing right with the expanded tournament

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On Wednesday, the Big East made official what we had all suspected: that the Big East tournament would be expanding to include all 18 teams that will be members in the 2013-2014 season.

I’ve already told you that I am not a fan of this particular move.

But that doesn’t mean that every decision that the Big East made at their meetings in Florida this week was a bad one. The Big East will be adjusting the format for their tournament by eliminating the double-bye. The way the bracket is currently structured, the bottom eight seeds play each other on the Tuesday of the tournament, with the winners advancing to play the No. 5-No. 8 seeds and those winners advancing to take on the top four teams.

The new setup will be the standard bracket. The top four seeds will play the bottom four seeds on Tuesday, with No. 1 and No. 2 taking on the winners of the play-in games — No. 15 vs. No. 18 and No. 16 vs. No. 17. On Wednesday, the middle eight teams will play, with the winners advancing to play on Thursday in the quarterfinals. The advantage gained for finishing in the top four in the regular season will be the day off in the middle of the tournament.

Honestly, I like this setup better.

For starters, the top four seeds are generally going to be the teams that draw bigger crowds — Syracuse, UConn, Louisville, etc. Those fans are more likely to attend games on a Tuesday than those of programs finishing in the bottom half of the bracket. It may not be a packed house in the Garden, but I’d be willing to bet that there will be more rear-ends in seats on the first day of the tournament that the current structure.

I also don’t think that there will be a huge risk of an upset on Tuesday. The teams at the bottom of the Big East have not been good since the league expanded to 16 teams, and that was before Houston, Central Florida and SMU were added. Upsets of the top four seeds are fairly rare  in the NCAA tournament, and those teams pulling the upsets are at least conference champions. Not teams that can’t avoid finishing in the bottom third of an 18 team conference.

If we’re going to be stuck with 18 teams, this setup is the lesser of two evils.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Akron reveals special bobble heads for LeBron, high school teammates

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When it comes to discussing some of the game of basketball’s best players, specifically those who went directly from high school to the NBA, a question that’s often asked is where said player would have attended college if forced (by rule) to do so. Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James are among those who have been discussed in this manner, and in the case of LeBron he’s got connections to two programs within his home state of Ohio.

LeBron’s connected with the Ohio State program, which is outfitted by the Nike’s LeBron signature line, but there’s another program with an even closer connection. That would be Akron, which is led by head coach Keith Dambrot, and all he did was serve as LeBron’s high school coach at St. Vincent/St. Mary’s HS in Akron during the player’s freshman and sophomore years at the school. Also on those teams were two future Akron Zips in guard Dru Joyce and forward Romeo Travis.

Thursday the school announced that it would be honoring James, Joyce and Travis with bobble head dolls to be given out before Akron’s home games against Buffalo (February 16; Joyce’s bobble head), Bowling Green (February 26; Travis) and Ohio (March 1; James).

All three bobble head dolls are wearing Akron uniforms, which in the case of LeBron allows fans to think back and imagine what could have been. Season ticket holders guaranteed one bobble head per account (on each of the three giveaway days), with the first 750 fans in attendance to receive one as well.

NEW PODCAST: Indiana, Cal, troublesome trends and a weekend preview

California's Jabari Bird celebrates a score against Oregon in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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The gang is back together again for another episode of the NBCSports.com College Basketball Talk Podcast, with Rob Dauster hosting and Raphielle Johnson and Scott Phillips joining him. Today’s episode touched on big wins picked up Thursday night by California and Indiana, discussing the performances of those teams and also touching on their prospects down the line.

Also discussed were the recent performances of Iowa State, Providence and Texas A&M (which are you more worried about?), and some of the top games on this weekend’s schedule headlined by Kansas visiting Oklahoma. And if you’re a fan of seafood, you may take umbrage with some of Rob’s comments at the beginning of the podcast.

As always, you can subscribe to the podcast on either iTunes or Stitcher, and there’s also a link to listen to this podcast below. Thanks for listening.