The carousel of conference realignment spins on.
According to a report from ESPN.com’s Brett McMurphy, Tulsa will be the latest school to switch conferences, joining the Big East later this year, with East Carolina joining as a full member in 2014.
Both programs will be leaving Conference USA as a result. East Carolina had initially announced it would join as a football-only member.
Tulane and Navy will round-out the 11 schools when they join. Navy is slated to join in 2015.
League commissioner Mike Aresco has not named expansion candidates, but said on Tuesday’s teleconference announcing the league’s media rights extension with CBS that the league expected to have “something relatively soon” on a new member.
“We are looking for a 12th team,” Aresco said. “Within the next few weeks, I think we’ll be able to announce a new member. We’ll have a member that brings great value to the conference.”
Aresco said Tuesday he expects the league to have 11 schools in 2014.
The search for a new name for the current Big East is nearing a conclusion.
“We are getting closer,” Aresco told ESPN.
Tulsa moving on to the Big East/soon-to-be-unnamed conference makes sense, even if just because it seems like every other current and former Conference USA member is doing the same thing. Geographically, it doesn’t make sense. But what does anymore with conference realignment?
From a basketball standpoint, East Carolina isn’t much to bring in with only two NCAA Tournament appearances, the last one in 1993. However, they did finish the season 18-11 this year under Jeff Lebo. Tulsa brings in better recent success, with their last NCAA appearance coming in 2003. They also have two NIT titles to their credit.
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The injury Stephen Zimmerman suffered on Saturday will keep the star UNLV freshman out for at least a week, a source told NBC Sports.
The injury is not thought to be serious, however. Zimmerman may be kept out for longer as a precaution, but that’s a result of the Runnin’ Rebels being in a situation where the rest of their regular season is relatively meaningless.
They’re not getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament regardless of how they finish out league play. With back-up center Ben Carter out with a torn ACL, it’s more important to make sure that Zimmerman, who is averaging 10.6 points and 9.1 boards this season, is totally healthy for the Mountain West tournament.
That tournament, mind you, will be played at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.
So the Runnin’ Rebels, regardless of how poor they’ve played this season, will always have a chance to land an automatic bid.
Anyway, the more interesting aspect of this story is how Zimmerman injured the knee. It was a completely avoidable play that came after the whistle, but I’m not sure it was what you would call a “dirty play”. You tell me:
With a little more than three minutes left on Monday night, No. 24 Texas held a 57-51 lead on No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman as Jordan Woodard struggled again and Buddy Hield failed to find the rhythm that he had throughout the first three months of the season.
At that point in the game, Hield was 4-for-14 from the floor with 15 points and four turnovers. He had just missed a pair of wide-open threes
“I couldn’t make a shot,” Hield said after the game. But that changed down the stretch. First, Hield finally got a three to drop. On the next possession, he got all the way to the rim and scored. On the following two possessions, he was fouled on a drive to the rim and hit four free throws. And after missing a pull-up jumper, Hield did this:
“I told coach I wanted the ball,” Hield said, “I saw Lammert coming to bite, so I pulled up.”
“It’s all money.”
Hield is already the favorite to win National Player of the Year, and this performance is only going to help his cause further. Think about it like this: Buddy was not good on Monday night, at least according to his (admittedly lofty) standards. But he still finished with 27 points and shook off a cold shooting night just in time to take over down the stretch.
Now think about this: Hield’s head coach has enough confidence in him to hand him the keys in the final minutes despite the fact that he’s struggling and on a team that has two other players that Lon Kruger trusts on game-winning possessions. Think about it. When Oklahoma beat West Virginia at the buzzer, it was Jordan Woodard that the play was drawn up for. When they beat LSU, it was Isaiah Cousins that got the rock on the final possession while Hield was used as a decoy. .
Want to talk about coaching luxuries?
Kruger has three guards that can shoot, penetrate and score, and penetrate and kick, and one of them is the National Player of the Year that doesn’t mind being used as a decoy.