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The last day of finals week is here. Not very much happened on the court last night. But that’s OK, because we have a lot to get to, you know, with the Big East imploding and everything.

What’s that? You don’t know what I’m talking about? Strap in and buckle up, because we have a lot to get it.

Lets hit the links.

Friday’s Top Games:  Only five games on the schedule tonight feature a match-up of D-I teams
7:00 p.m. – Central Florida @ Old Dominion
7:00 p.m. – Maine @ Army
7:00 p.m. – Charlotte @ Miami (FL)
8:00 p.m. – East Tennessee State @ Ole Miss
9:00 p.m. – LSU @ Boise State
 
 
Read(s) of the Day:
This is, unquestionably, the best article I’ve read regarding the implosion of the Big East. Jeff Jacobs of the Hartford Courant has no sympathy for the Big East, and can we blame him? No we cannot. Please, I’m begging you. Read this. (Hartford Courant)

Read(s) of the Day:
Dana O’Neil’s strong profile piece on “The Game of Change” is something you need to read before tip between Mississippi State and Loyola (IL) on Saturday. Read it. (ESPN)

Read(s) of the Day:
Luke Winn’s Power Rankings. Need I say more? Read it every Friday. (Sports Illustrated)
 
 
Top Stories:
Why the Big East’s breakup isn’t all bad: For us East Coasters born on traditional Big East basketball, this is as good of an outcome as we could have gotten. Rob Dauster explains why.

VIDEO: John Feinstein talks about the departure of the Catholic 7: Via CSNWashington, John Feinstein takes a look at what today’s Big East news means for Georgetown and for college basketball as a whole.

Report: Butler and Xavier to join the Catholic 7: According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Butler and Xavier will be a part of the newly established conference made up of the seven catholic schools that disbanded from the Big East on Wednesday.

Exam week essay about the likelihood that a D-I player scores 100 points in a game: Jack Taylor, the Grinnell College sophomore, scored an NCAA-record 138 points in a game earlier this season. It was a result of the rapid and concentrated scoring style that Grinnell implements in every game. Do you believe that Division I will ever see another 100-point game in the modern era?

Holiday wish list for Arizona: The Wildcats are on the cusp of joining the group of elite teams in the country. In order to do so, they are asking for Mark Lyons to take care of the ball better, and for their young big man to continue to grow.
 
 
Hoops Housekeeping
– Rutgers head coach Mike Rice has been suspended three games and fined $50,000 for mistreatment of players, which includes throwing basketballs at their heads. (New Jersey Star-Ledger)

– Louisville center Gorgui Dieng had his cast removed from his hand and returned to practice. He should be able to return to action by December 22. (Card Chronicle)

– Kansas junior Justin Wesley suffered a broken pinkie in practice yesterday and will miss approximately the next three weeks (KUSports.com)

– Illinois State guard Geoffrey Allen suspended indefinitely following arrest. (Chicago Tribune)

– New Mexico State center Tshilidzi Nephawe underwent surgery to fix torn ligaments in his right hand. It is unsure if he will return or not this season. (Las Cruces Sun-Times)

– Former Washington State point guard Reggie Moore will transfer to Western Washington after being dismissed in September. (College Basketball Talk)

– Maryland freshman Jake Lyman was benched by coach Mark Turgeon during the first half against Monmouth because he failed to meet academic standards set by the head coach. (Washington Post)
 
 
Observations & Insight:
– Pete Thamel provides an excellent read on the in’s and out’s of the implosion of the Big East and the logistics behind the “Catholic-7” (Sports Illustrated)

– Jason McIntyre’s take on the collapse of the Big East is also worth your time (The Big Lead)

– A great profile on the Big East “Catholic” Conference’s additions based on NCAA history and attendance (Rumble in the Garden)

– Another great take from Dana O’Neil on the calculated risks being taken by the “Catholic-7” (ESPN)

– Brian Ewart wonders exactly how the “Catholic-7” will go about leaving the Big East (VU Hoops)

– Jeff Eisenberg on the winners and losers from the “Catholic-7” split (The Dagger)

– Now that the “Cahtolic-7” had split, and Butler and Xavier are expected to join, the A-10 is now on red alert for program poaching (Eye on College Basketball)

– With the Big East is a current free fall, what are the chances that Louisville and Notre Dame can join the ACC early than previously expected (Eye on College Basketball)

– Creighton officials declined comment on Thursday on whether or not the Bluejays would have any interest in joining a new basketball conference made up of the seven former members of the Big East (Omaha World-Herald)

– Gonzaga is one of the programs that is currently reaching out to the new Catholic conference about potential membership (Slipper Still Fits)

– The MAAC is set to vote on membership for three NEC schools. Quinnipiac is thought to be a lock, as is Monmouth, with Wagner having an outside shot (New York Daily News)

– Tennessee got a hard-fought victory over No.24 Wichita State last night, handing the Shockers their first loss of the season (Rocky Top Talk)

– Billy Donovan nearly left Florida a few years back to pursue the head coaching job with the Orlando Magic, but at the last-minute he decided to stay. But the long-time Gator head coach isn’t ruling out the possibility of coaching in the NBA some day (Gainesville Sun)

– Andy Glockner on the new challenges and environment that have Larry Eustachy in a “perfect fit” at Colorado State (Sports Illustrated)

– Tom Izzo wishes he could spend less time recruiting and more time with his family. I can’t imagine he’s the only coach who feels this way (MLive.com)
 
 
Odds & Ends:
– Eamonn Brennan fills us in on an interesting situation regarding a radio show featuring Wake Forest head coach Jeff Bzdelik, and the show’s decision to censor the caller interaction. As you would imagine, this did not sit well with the fan base (ESPN)

– Jabari Parker is set to make his college decision on the 20th, but he still isn’t exactly sure what school he is going to decide on (SNY.tv)

– College of Charleston lost a stunner last night to D-II Anderson University 65-49 in an exhibition game. Here is what reactions to the score look like in .GIF form (King Kresse)
 
 
Video(s) of the Day:
An awesome trick-shot video put together by Oklahoma freshman James Fraschilla, the son of ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla. The video benefits the Hayden’s Hope Foundation. (ESPN)
 

 
Video(s) of the Day:
Vin Parise and Erik Kuselias discuss the departure of the “Catholic-7” from the Big East. (NBC Sports Talk)
 

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Duke’s Azura Stevens transfers to UConn

Duke's Azura Stevens (11) steals the ball from North Carolina A&T's Kenya Hailey, right, as Duke's Ka'lia Johnson watches during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Jan. 2, 2015, in Durham, N.C. (AP Photo/Ellen Ozier)
(AP Photo/Ellen Ozier)
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STORRS, Conn. (AP) Azura Stevens, the leading scorer and rebounder for Duke, has decided to transfer to UConn.

The 6-foot-6 sophomore center from Raleigh, North Carolina will sit out next season and will have two years of eligibility remaining when the 2017-18 season begins the school announced Saturday.

Stevens averaged 18.9 points and 9.6 rebounds a game and was named to the ACC’s all-conference first team.

She was second in the league both scoring and rebounding.

UConn coach Geno Auriemma said Saturday that he normally doesn’t get involved in transfer situations, but Stevens convinced him that Storrs would be the right place for her going forward.

Beachem says he’ll be back at Notre Dame for senior season

Notre Dame's V.J. Beachem reacts during the second half of the team's NCAA college basketball game against Wisconsin in the regional semifinals of the men's NCAA Tournament, Friday, March 25, 2016, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)
(AP Photo/Chris Szagola)
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) Forward V.J. Beachem has withdrawn his name from the NBA draft and will return to Notre Dame for his senior season.

Beachem made the announcement Sunday night on Twitter, writing that he was thankful for the opportunity to experience the NBA draft process and invitations to work out for teams, “but now I’m ready to lead [Notre Dame]. #IMBACK.”

The 6-foot-8, 200-pound forward finished third on the team in scoring, averaging 12.0 points and 3.9 rebounds as the Irish finished 24-12. He was at his best in the NCAA Tournament, when he averaged 17.5 points as the Irish advanced to the Elite Eight for a second straight year.

Coach Mike Brey sent a Tweet saying he was thrilled Beachem will return.

How did Bob Knight wind up leading Donald Trump rallies in Indiana?

Former Indiana basketball coach Bob Knight shakes hands with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump during a campaign stop at Old National Events Plaza, Thursday, April 28, 2016, in Evansville, Ind. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
(AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
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As Donald Trump makes his way through the state of Indiana, looking to beat Ted Cruz in the Indiana primary, he’s managed to team up with disgraced — and somehow still-beloved — for Hoosier head coach Bobby Knight.

How did those two end up together? From Time.com:

Knight says he told a mutual friend in New York that he’d like to talk to Trump, who he had never met. They connected on the phone. “I just told him I thought that we needed him,” says Knight. “That right now, in this moment in time, he was the man who should be in charge. He should be the guy that can get us back to where we want to be.”

According to Knight, Trump responded: “Coach, I know exactly how I want you involved. And when the time comes, I will give you a call and we’ll go from there.”

Sounds about right.

It makes too much sense that Knight would be a loyal Trump supporter, and the marriage is perfect for Trump as well. Knight is still basketball royalty to many in the most basketball-mad state in America, and just last week Cruz tried to reenact a scene from Hoosiers while calling the rim a “basketball ring”. (Her face!!!)

All Trump had to do was get ‘The General’ involved to prove to the Hoosier Hoop Heads just how much he loved basketball.

And then he went and tweeted this:

ChdcXjVWgAAW1w0

Stick to politics, fellas. Please.

Looking Forward: What does the ACC have in store for us next season?

Grayson Allen, Jake Allsmiller
(AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
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The NBA Draft’s Early Entry Deadline has come and gone. Just about every elite recruit has decided where they will be playing their college ball next season. The coaching carousel, which ended up spinning a bit faster than initially expected, has come to a close for all of the major programs. 

In other words, by now, we have a pretty good feel for what college basketball is going to look like during the 2016-17 season. With that in mind, let’s take a look at what has happened — and what will happen — in the ACC over the next six months. 

KEY OFFSEASON STORYLINES

1. So about those NCAA investigations … : You know which ones I’m talking about: Louisville’s alleged use of hookers as recruiting tools and North Carolina’s faux-class scandal. Initially, there was hope that they would both come to an end during the offseason, but that may not end up being the case.

Why?

Well, for starters, Louisville has not yet received their Notice of Allegations, which is the first step towards the NCAA actually putting together some kind of punishment for the program. To get an idea of what the timeline for this kind of thing looks like, North Carolina actually received their second Notice of Allegations last week — their first came last May, but they have since self-reported more violations — and that punishment isn’t expected to come until early in 2017.

So expect a lot of chatter about those investigations this summer, but that doesn’t mean you should be expecting a resolution.

2. When will the ‘Duke can go 40-0’ chatter pick up?: Duke is going to be the consensus Preseason No. 1 team in the country when all of those polls eventually come out. That will happen when you have a roster where a second-team all-american in Grayson Allen could end up being a forgotten man. Think about it: Duke adds three top ten recruits in Harry Giles, Jayson Tatum and Frank Jackson, returns Luke Kennard and Amile Jefferson and also brings in Javin DeLaurier. And that’s before you consider the possibility of Marques Bolden joining the ranks in Durham. If Duke does land Bolden, there’s an argument to be made that this is the best recruiting class that anyone has landed in the one-and-done era.

So at what point do people starting talking about Duke’s chances of going 40-0? Because that’s what typically happens with Kentucky whenever they land a recruiting class that is this talented, isn’t it? I usually spend far too much energy talking and writing about how silly that notion is, particularly when we’re more than 11 months away from what would be Game No. 40, but, regardless of how good the Blue Devils end up being, the idea of Duke going 40-0 is particularly far-fetched this season …

3. … because the conference is loaded: In our Preseason top 25, there are four top ten teams from the ACC — Duke, Virginia, UNC and Louisville. Another — Syracuse — is in the top 15, seven total are ranked in the top 25 and an eighth finds themselves sitting just outside the top 25. This is all coming from a league that got six teams to the Sweet 16 in 2016, and that doesn’t include teams that will be adding top 15 freshmen and potential lottery picks.

4. Who’s coming back to school?: The one caveat when talking about how good the ACC is figuring out who is going to be playing in what league. Will Justin Jackson and Kennedy Meeks return to North Carolina for their senior seasons? Will Louisville get Chinanu Onuaku back? Florida State is waiting to hear from Xavier Rathan-Mayes, while Syracuse guard Malachi Richardson entered his name in the NBA Draft. Notre Dame’s V.J. Beachem, N.C. State’s Abdul-Malik Abu and Clemson’s Jaron Blossomgame have also entered their names into the draft.

Virginia transfer Austin Nichols (AP Photo)
Virginia transfer Austin Nichols (AP Photo)

NOTABLE NEWCOMERS

  • Duke’s freshman class: It’s loaded. But we’ve talked about that, so this is where I’m going to voice my concern: They still don’t really have a point guard. I know that’s what Jackson is listed at, and that’s what I think his best position will be long-term, but he’s still learning the position. Jackson is one of those combo-guards that is a natural scorer, a guy that is being force-fit into the point guard spot because he can dribble, work in ball-screen actions and create off the bounce. But it creates a bit of a dilemma for the Duke staff. Thanks to Derryck Thornton’s departure, Jackson is the only point guard on the roster, meaning that their four-best perimeter players all need the ball in their hands to be effective. I’m nit-picking, I know, but it’s something to keep an eye on.
  • Austin Nichols, Virginia: As a sophomore at Memphis, Nichols averaged 13.3 points, 6.1 boards and 3.4 blocks, and the former top 25 recruit spend the 2015-16 season at Virginia working with a coaching staff that is as good as any in the country at developing their talent. He’ll step in and immediately fill the void left by the perennially-underrated Anthony Gill, and maybe more. He’s a potential first-team all-ACC player.
  • Jonathan Isaac, Florida State: Isaac is the highest-rated freshman in the ACC that’s not headed to Tobacco Road. A long and lacky 6-foot-9 forward, Isaac’s build and skill-set will draw some comparisons to former Duke star Brandon Ingram. He may not have the same impact as Ingram, however, as the hype surrounding Isaac is built a bit more on his potential more than his instant production. But with him on the floor alongside the likes of Xavier Rathan-Mayes, Dwayne Bacon and Terrence Mann, Leonard Hamilton has a dangerous roster.
  • Dennis Smith Jr., N.C. State: Smith was considered the best point guard in the class for a good stretch of his high school career, but he tore his ACL, which cost him his senior season in high school, and enrolled at N.C. State for the spring semester to get better medical care. He relies quite a bit on his explosiveness, so it will be interesting to see how he recovers from the injury.

SURPRISING DEPARTURES

  • N.C. State’s turnover: Cat Barber turned pro and signed with an agent. Abdul-Malik Abu put his name in the draft. Cody and Caleb Martin transferred out of the program. Assistant coaches Bobby Lutz and Rob Moxley were reassigned while Butch Pierre and Heath Schroyer were hired to replace them. They better hope Dennis Smith Jr. is as good as advertised.
  • Chinanu Onuaku, Louisville: Onuaku may be the most influential name left in the draft in the ACC. The Cardinals have the makeup of a top 10 team this season even without Onuaku, but if he returns he’ll give them a physical presence in the paint that they wouldn’t otherwise have. He’s a borderline first round pick, and while his decision is still up in the air, it seems likely that he’ll end up remaining in the draft.
  • Malik Beasley, Florida State: This wasn’t surprising in the sense that Beasley shouldn’t have turned pro — he has a real shot to end up being a first round pick — it’s surprising when you consider where he was ranked in high school. Entering the season, he wasn’t considered a potential one-and-done prospect, but his productivity (expected) and his efficiency putting up those numbers (not so expected) intrigues scouts.

COACHING CHANGES

  • Josh Pastner, Georgia Tech: Tech let Brian Gregory go thinking that their AD — former Xavier AD Mike Bobinski — would have a shot at landing former Xavier coaches Chris Mack and Sean Miller, or Miller’s little brother, Archie. Well, they didn’t. They ended up with the guy that Memphis paid more than $1.2 million to go away. Pastner’s probably not as bad as his reputation would have you believe. He made four tournaments in his first five seasons at Memphis, before everything went downhill for him, and he landed two McDonald’s All-Americans out of Atlanta. And he’s only 38 years old, with all the motivation in the world to prove to everyone that he wasn’t some overhyped, under-prepared coaching bust. Time will tell, but it shouldn’t be a shock to anyone that Pastner didn’t exactly invigorate the fan base.
  • Kevin Stallings, Pitt: Like Pastner, Stallings was hired away from a situation at Vanderbilt where he very well could’ve lost his job after Jamie Dixon left Pitt for TCU. Stallings has a terrific reputation in coaching circles, but the results that he had with the Commodores left much to be desired.
North Carolina guard Joel Berry II (2) moves the ball against Providence during the first half of a second-round men's college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament, Saturday, March 19, 2016, in Raleigh, N.C. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
North Carolina guard Joel Berry II (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

WAY-TOO-EARLY ALL-CONFERENCE PREDICTIONS

Grayson Allen, Duke (Player of the Year)
Joel Berry II, North Carolina
Donovan Mitchell, Louisville
Harry Giles III, Duke
Austin Nichols, Virginia

WAY-TOO-EARLY POWER RANKINGS, IN TWEETS

  1. Duke: Consensus Preseason No. 1 in the country means they’re going to top the ACC Power Rankings.
  2. Virginia: UVA is a ‘program’ by now. Lose Brogdon and Gill? NBD, London’s back and they’ve guys ready for a bigger role: Nichols, Hall, Thompson.
  3. North Carolina: Much depends on Jackson and Meeks returning, but there’s more talent on the Tar Heel roster than people probably realize.
  4. Louisville: Even w/out Onuaku, Pitino has a team that should be a factor at the top of the league. Expect big years out of Mitchell, Spalding and Adel.
  5. Virginia Tech: Our ACC sleeper. They went 10-8 in the league, beat two top ten teams, return basically everyone and are a prototype Buzz Williams team.
  6. Syracuse: The PG spot is a question mark, but is Richardson and Lydon have big sophomore seasons, there are pieces on this roster to be a top 15 team.
  7. Miami: The Canes lost a lot, but Newton and Reed should thrive in bigger roles and keep this group in the NCAA tournament picture.
  8. Florida State: The Noles are loaded with talent — Bacon, Isaac, XRM, Mann — but will Hamilton find a way to get the pieces to fit together this season?
  9. Notre Dame: In Brey we trust, but losing Jackson and Auguste a year after losing Grant and Connaughton is tough. This is their rebuild year.
  10. N.C. State: Does Abu come back? Is Smith healthy? How good will Dorn and Rowan be? They have some talent, but that didn’t matter last season.
  11. Pitt: Pitt has a solid trio of forwards in Artis, Young and Jeter. Can Stallings find more success with them than he had with Vandy last year?
  12. Clemson: Clemson hasn’t been to the NCAA tournament in the last five years. It’s probably going to be six after this season.
  13. Georgia Tech: Josh Pastner takes over a program that has lost their top four scorers to graduation. Welp.
  14. Wake Forest: Wake won one ACC game last year and lose their two most talented pieces. Yikes. Addition by subtraction? Or just regular old subtraction?
  15. Boston College: The Eagles went winless in the ACC last season and lost two of their top three scorers. Double yikes.

Syracuse adds point guard grad transfer

Colorado State's John Gillon (4) shoots against Fresno State during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the semifinals at the Mountain West Conference men's tournament Friday, March 11, 2016, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)
(AP Photo/David Becker)
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Syracuse landed a commitment from Colorado State grad transfer John Gillon over the weekend, a potentially critical piece for the Orange next season. He’ll be eligible immediately for his senior season.

Jim Boeheim’s club lost a lot in their back court this offseason. Trevor Cooney and Michael Gbinije both graduated, Kaleb Joseph transferred out of the program and there’s no guarantee that Malachi Richardson will withdraw his name from NBA Draft consideration.

Assuming Richardson does return, he’ll be joined in the back court by Franklin Howard and Tyus Battle, none of whom are point guards. That’s where Gillon’s addition matters. He averaged 13.2 points and 3.9 assists for the Rams last season and is certainly a guy with the quickness to get into the lane and make plays.

Gillon, who is 6-foot-0, is not a pure point guard like, say, a Tyler Ennis. He’s going to attack. He’s going to put the ball on the floor. He’s going to try and get fouled or draw an extra defender, and he’s not always going to be doing so out of a ball-screen action; last year, Syracuse’s offensive attack was centered abour Gbinije’s ability in ball-screens. As one Mountain West coach put it, “he doesn’t have a point guard mentality from a leadership standpoint and a complete demand of the game,” referring to Gillon as more of a combo-guard than a facilitator.

In other words, it will be interesting to see how Gillon’s skill-set fits, but the bottom-line is that Syracuse added a talented, veteran ball-handler to their back court, and that’s something that the Orange really needed.