Preview: Schedule and times announced for 2012 SEC/Big East Challenge

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The schedules and times for the 2012 SEC/Big East Challenge  have been released.

Below, NBCSports.com takes a look at the best games from each day, along with the full schedule.

Thursday, Nov. 29

Game of the Day: Kentucky vs. Notre Dame

John Calipari’s Wildcats are reloaded, led by No. 1 prospect Nerlens Noel, set to take on a Notre Dame team that returns forward Jack Cooley, along with guards Eric Atkins and Jerian Grant.

The Irish also have a solid three-man recruiting class coming in, led by Top-100 prospect Cameron Biedscheid.

On the other side, the defending national champions may look nothing like the team that took the title in 2012, but depending on how this group of young players gels, they could be in the national title discussion again.

Rest of Schedule

7:30 p.m.—South Carolina vs. St. John’s

9:00 p.m.—Marquette vs. Florida

9:30 p.m.—Seton Hall vs. LSU

Friday, Nov. 30

Game of the Day: Syracuse vs. Arkansas

Michael Carter-Williams, used sparingly during his freshman season at Syracuse, should be on every list of possible breakout players in 2012-13. The Orange will need to compensate for the loss of Dion Waiters, Kris Joseph, Scoop Jardine, and Fab Melo.

For Arkansas, BJ Young is a centerpiece after he declared for the NBA Draft but eventually withdrew his name. The Razorbacks had a problem winning on the road last season, which contributed to an 18-15 finish.

Marshawn Powell is also on track to be back in 2012-13 after tearing his ACL early last season.

Game tips at 8:30 p.m.

Rest of Schedule:

6:30 p.m.—Tennessee vs. Georgetown

7:00 p.m.—Georgia vs. South Florida

9:00 p.m.—DePaul vs. Auburn

Saturday, Dec. 1

Game of the Day: Alabama vs. Cincinnati

The final day is pretty weak, but Alabama will have freshman Devonta Pollard on display after he signed with the Crimson Tide in the spring. They will be without their top two scorers from last season, JaMychal Green and Tony Mitchell.

Cincinnati is coming off a run to the Sweet 16, but is losing seniors Dion Dixon and Yancy Gates. Jaquon Parker and Sean Kilpatrick should emerge for the Bearcats. Kilpatrick, you’ll remember, went off for 6-of-9 shooting from three-point range in a Big East Tournament upset of Syracuse.

Tip is at 3:00 p.m.

Rest of Schedule

5:00 p.m.—Villanova vs. Vanderbilt

TBD—Mississippi State vs. Providence

TBD—Rutgers vs. Mississippi

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

Chimezie Metu cleared to play by USC

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USC has cleared junior forward Chimezie Metu as he’ll be allowed to play on Saturday against Utah, the school announced.

The 6-foot-11 Metu is the leading scorer and rebounder for the Trojans this season as he was one of the players named in the Friday reports that linked him to NBA agent Andy Miller and Christian Dawkins.

The Trojans are the latest school to allow their player to play after the reports as they follow schools like Duke and Kentucky, as they also did the same with allowing Wendell Carter Jr. and Kevin Knox Jr. to play.

It’s also noted in the release that USC is reviewing Bennie Boatwright’s eligibility as well even though he’s out for the season with a knee injury.

On Friday, Yahoo Sports reported a wide-scale payment operation from Miller and Dawkins in order to recruit players for Miller’s agency. The records allege that Bennie Boatwright Sr. received about $2,000. The records also allege that Metu or his advisor, Johnnie Parker, also got $2,000.

Although the allegations look serious, Dawkins has also proven to be untrustworthy in many instances and it’s hard to tell what might be real and what might be a cover for another expense. It’s hard to prove a lot of these things presented in a business expenses spreadsheet. USC is backing Metu by saying he never received anything that would harm his eligibility as they try to make a final push at Arizona before the postseason.

Bubble Banter: There will be some NCAA tournament bids determined today

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As we will do every day throughout the rest of the season, here is a look at how college basketball’s bubble teams fared on Saturday.

It’s worth reminding you here that the way winning are labeled have changed this season. Instead of looking at all top 50 wins equally, the selection committee will be using criteria that breaks wins down into four quadrants, using the RPI:

  • Quadrant 1: Home vs. 1-30, Neutral vs. 1-50, Road vs. 1-75
  • Quadrant 2: Home vs. 31-75, Neutral vs. 51-100, Road vs. 76-135
  • Quadrant 3: Home vs. 76-160, Neutral vs. 101-200, Road vs. 136-240
  • Quadrant 4: Home vs. 161 plus, Neutral vs. 201 plus, Road vs. 240 plus

The latest NBC Sports Bracketology can be found here.

YET TO PLAY

MARQUETTE
PROVIDENCE
SETON HALL
BAYLOR
TCU
LOUISVILLE
VIRGINIA TECH
SMU
MIAMI
LSU
TEXAS
USC
UTAH
MISSISSIPPI STATE
TEXAS A&M
WASHINGTON
ALABAMA
KANSAS STATE
OKLAHOMA
MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE
ST. BONAVENTURE
FLORIDA

Marvin Bagley III returning to Duke lineup against Syracuse after knee injury

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Duke star freshman Marvin Bagley III will be available for the Blue Devils on Saturday when they play Syracuse in an ACC home game.

Bagley missed the past four games due to a knee strain that he suffered in the Feb. 8 game against North Carolina. During Bagley’s absence, the Blue Devils went 4-0 as their defense looked very good and senior Grayson Allen became an aggressive scorer.

It’ll be interesting to see what kind of changes Duke makes with Bagley’s return. Watching Bagley’s health and seeing how many minutes he plays will be another subplot to watch against the Orange.

Kentucky responds to recent reports from FBI investigation

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Kentucky has officially responded to recent reports that some of its players, notably freshman Kevin Knox, could be involved in the fallout from NBA agent Andy Miller and Christian Dawkins’ FBI investigation.

Knox is one of the players mentioned in a Yahoo Sports report on Friday that included documents for how Miller and Dawkins recruited players to the agency. In the report that Dawkins sent to Miller, it is noted that Knox or a family member of Knox allegedly had a meal with Dawkins.

Kevin Knox Sr. said he didn’t know Miller or Dawkins in a report on Friday. Kentucky also seems to be backing Knox entering Saturday’s SEC clash with Missouri. The Wildcats haven’t found anything wrong while reviewing the matter internally as it looks like Knox will play.

Kentucky seems to be following Duke’s path with Wendell Carter Jr.

Both are still allowed to play, despite being listed in the report, because there are a lot of factors still at play here. It should be noted that the evidence against all of these players in the Dawkins case looks bad.  It’s also hard to prove whether an actual encounter occurred. Dawkins doesn’t have the greatest history of being honest as CBT’s Rob Dauster noted.

Dawkins could have been misleading about some of these encounters with his boss to make himself look good. It’s also difficult to tell who truly paid for the meal, as it is conceivable that some of these players or their families paid for themselves.

Regardless of the nuances of this case, Knox looks like he will continue to play for a recently resurgent Kentucky team that has won two straight games. It’ll be interesting to see if this case hovers over Knox and Kentucky or if they can continue to power through and play well.

Memphis guard Jeremiah Martin out for the season with broken left foot

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The University of Memphis announced on Friday that junior point guard Jeremiah Martin will miss the rest of the season with a broken left foot.

The leading scorer in the AAC this season, the 6-foot-3 Martin injured his foot in the first half of the Tigers’ win over Houston on Thursday night. Martin did not return to the game as he left the arena in a protective boot. Martin is expected to have surgery to repair the foot on Tuesday as he’s expected to miss four-to-six weeks with the injury.

While the Tigers will be significantly worse without its best offensive player, Memphis did come back to beat the Cougars without Martin on Thursday night, as they’ll still be a tough out in the American. Martin was putting up 18.9 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game as he was in the midst of a breakout junior campaign.

If Martin returns to school for his senior season, he’ll be under heavy consideration as one of the top 100 players in college basketball next season.