We know the road to the 2014 national championship will end in Dallas (Arlington, whatevs) next season. Now we also know that the title chase will begin there as well.
ESPN’s Jason King is reporting that eight teams will meet at American Airlines Center on November 8, headlined by a potential Top 25 matchup between Baylor and Colorado.
Each matchup in the four-game season-opening event has local ties. Texas and LSU will meet, as will Southern Methodist and Texas Christian. The Dallas event had to nip slightly north of the state line to get some regional interest in the remaining game, which will pit Anthony Grant’s Alabama Crimson Tide against the Oklahoma Sooners.
The event may struggle to stand out in the football-mad Lone Star State, but it is intended to build enthusiasm for the season, and could be the start of similar efforts in future seasons.
“We want this to serve as the tipoff to the season,” bd Global president Brooks Downing told ESPN.com earlier this month. “The plan is to generate a lot of excitement and hype about college basketball in the city that’s hosting the Final Four.”
If the November event is a success, Downing said bd Global likely will stage something similar each fall in the city slated to host the Final Four. The 2015 Final Four will be in Indianapolis before shifting to Houston in 2016.
Baylor is coming off of an NIT title and will no doubt hope to start an NCAA title run in their home state.
Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.
Illinois suffered another blow in what has already turned out to be a brutal season.
Mike Thorne is expected to miss the rest of the season after tearing his meniscus. He reportedly underwent surgery on Monday to repair the injury.
Thorne, a transfer from Charlotte, was starting at center for the Illini and doing a good job of it as well. He was averaging 13.4 points and 8.4 boards, although Illinois has started off the season 3-4.
The reason for that slow start has mainly been those injuries. Tracy Abrams is already out for the season after tearing his achilles, and the Illini training room looked like a M.A.S.H. unit. Kendrick Nunn just returned two games ago from surgery to repair a torn thumb ligament. LeRon Black is still getting back to speed after offseason knee surgery. Jaylon Tate is back after dislocating a finger. Jalen Coleman-Lands was slowed by a stress fracture.
John Groce entered this season on the hot seat, and dealing with all of these injuries certainly isn’t helping his cause.
We talk about a lot of stuff of the podcast today, mainly because a lot of stuff happened since we last spoke with you all.
For starters, we need to discuss the ‘realness’ of Syracuse and Xavier. Are they both truly top 15 teams, or do they just have top 15 resumes? We also dive into Chris Mack’s epic troll-job of Dayton at the Advocare Invitational final.
Other topics we touched on: Whether or not Scott is ever going to apologize to Wayne Selden, Wichita State’s tournament hopes, Texas A&M and whether we’d take Ben Simmons, Kris Dunn or Denzel Valentine today.
As always, you can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes right here. It’s the quickest way to get access on your cell phone or tablet.