Every year, the college hoops season kicks off with games played in random and exotic locales.
There are tournaments in the tropics and games played on aircraft carriers. Last season, UConn and Michigan State traveled all the way to Germany to play an exhibition.
On Monday night, Wisconsin and St. John’s announced that they would be kicking off their season on November 8th by playing a game … in Sioux Falls, SD?
“In terms of locale, Wisconsin fans from around the Midwest will have the opportunity to travel to Sioux Falls and watch the game, and it just made sense for us in terms of intelligent travel for our team,” UW associate head coach Greg Gard said in a statement. “We’ve been approached by several broadcasting networks to play a neutral site game around the world and we felt that given the time of when it needed to be played, the location and the opponent that this was a great fit for us.”
The goal? Exposure for a new, $19 million, 3,250 seat facility called the Sanford Pentagon. It’s the first Division I basketball game that will be played in the arena that houses the NBDL’s Sioux Falls Skyforce.
The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 10.3 points per game, while shooting 42 percent from three, as a freshman. He, along with Malcolm Hill and Michael Thorne Jr., is one of three returning players who averaged double figures last season.
This could prove to be a make-or-break year for John Groce, who enters his fifth season at the helm. He guided the Illini to an NCAA Tournament in his first season, but hasn’t been back since.
The key for the Illini is health. Abrams gives them experience and leadership, but it won’t be a surprise if there’s some rust in his game after spending the past two seasons on the sideline. Having a healthy Coleman-Lands will help stabilize the backcourt, while Hill, an all-conference caliber forward, and Thorne anchor the frontcourt.
Like Alkins, Jones was a sought-after scorer. The 6-foot-4 two-guard was rated No. 69 overall in the Class of 2016 by Rivals. He picked Indiana over offers from Cal, Cincinnati, Georgetown and more than a dozen other high-major programs.
Jeter, the 6-foot-10, played in a reserve role as a freshman, averaging 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds per game last season. He will be part of a loaded frontline that includes heralded freshmen Harry Giles and Marques Bolden, as well as redshirt senior Amile Jefferson, who returns to the lineup following a foot injury.
The greatest player in Auburn program history will honored with a statue outside of the team’s home arena.
The university announced that Charles Barkley, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer, will be the fourth athlete to be given a statue, joining Heisman Trophy winners Bo Jackson, Pat Sullivan and Cam Newton.
“It just means a great deal to me,” Barkley said in a statement. “Being a kid from Alabama, going to Auburn. I think everybody knows what Auburn means to me. It’s going to be pretty cool.”
Barkley, currently working as an analyst for TNT, was the SEC Player of the Year in 1984, as well as a second team All-American. He averaged 14.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game in 84 appearances for the Tigers.