Mike Brey

Big East commissioner Mike Aresco says no discussions yet on Notre Dame early departure

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The ACC announced this week that Notre Dame would be joining the conference in all sports except for football, but the news leaves an undetermined variable: when will it happen?

According to Big East commissioner Mike Aresco, his conference has not begun discussions with Notre Dame as to when or if the Irish will be allowed to depart for the ACC “early.”

“They may make that request and then we’d have to negotiate with them because they are required to stay for two more seasons. If they do, we’ll engage them in a negotiation. I can’t tell you much more than that,” Aresco said Thursday, as reported by The Sporting News.

As bylaw stands now, the Big East’s exit fee is $5 million, plus a 27-month waiting period before moving out.

But the Big East’s last three departures, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, and West Virginia, have all negotiated early exits. West Virginia paid $20 million to the Big East for the right to join the Big 12 this season, while Pitt and SU each paid $7.5 million to join the ACC for the start of the 2013-14 season.

“There is a precedent for [early departure],” Aresco continued. “We’ll maintain a good relationship with Notre Dame. We’ve been very magnanimous. That’s the way we should be. We wish Notre Dame well. We’ll talk to them. We may be able to figure something out. We may not. We just don’t know yet.”

As part of Notre Dame’s agreement, the school’s football team will play five games annually against ACC schools.

Aresco went on to call speculation of the Big East’s demise as “complete nonsense.”

“We have a great basketball conference,” he said. “Notre Dame — we enjoy having the relationship — but when you have Louisville, Cincinnati, Marquette, and UConn and Georgetown and Villanova and an up-and-coming St. John’s, the possibility of DePaul doing well in Chicago, and adding Memphis and Temple, two strong programs. … When you have all that, how can anybody argue we aren’t top to bottom the best basketball conference in the country? We’re right up there.”

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

Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament chances take a major blow in loss to No. 16 SMU

SMU guard Nic Moore (11) shoots over Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
(AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
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Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.

The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.

It wasn’t pretty.

And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.

Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.

The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.

But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: