A complete breakdown of conference realignment for 2013-2014

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You know all that talk about conference realignment and schools joining new conferences and new conferences appearing out of thin air?

Remember how the Big 12 almost died and the original Big East did die before spawning a pair of shiny new conferences?

Well, quite a bit of that takes effect today, July 1st, 2013.

Since I do this for a living and I can barely keep track of who is changing to what league and when, I’ve decided to put together a breakdown to help those of you that are getting just as confused as I am.

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BIG EAST: The Big East that we were all raised on was put out of its misery as the clock struck midnight on Monday morning, and while Syracuse, Pitt and Notre Dame are all headed out the door — with Louisville close on their heels — college hoopheads still have some exciting basketball to look forward to. The new Big East (can we just call it the Big East now, no ‘new’?) will be comprised of the Catholic 7 — Marquette, Georgetown, Villanova, St. John’s, Seton Hall, Providence and DePaul — and will add Butler and Xavier from the Atlantic 10 and Creighton from the Missouri Valley.

ACC: Despite plenty of rumors to the contrary, the ACC will not actually be losing anyone this offseason. They will, however, be adding Syracuse, Pitt and Notre Dame this season. Louisville joins the ranks for the 2014-2015 season, when Maryland heads to the Big Ten.

AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE: The AAC will be a hodge-podge of castoffs and programs that no one seems to want. UConn, Cincinnati and South Florida all join from the Big East. Memphis, Central Florida, Houston and SMU arrive from Conference USA. Temple joins from the Atlantic 10. Louisville and Rutgers have a one year layover in the AAC before moving on to the ACC and the Big Ten, respectively, for the 2014-2015 season. To replace them, the AAC will ring in East Carolina, Tulsa and Tulane in 2014.

ATLANTIC 10: The A-10 will undergo some radical changes, especially at the top of the league. Temple is off to the AAC, Butler and Xavier are Big East-bound, Charlotte is headed to Conference USA, and George Mason is joining the conference from the CAA. The A-10 will also be adding Davidson for the 2014-2015 season.

CONFERENCE USA: There’s too much going on here, so we’ll jump to bullet points:

  • Teams remaining: UAB, Marshall, Rice, Southern Miss, UTEP
  • Teams joining: Charlotte (A-10), Old Dominion (CAA), Louisiana Tech, UT-San Antonio (WAC), Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Middle Tennessee, North Texas (Sun Belt)
  • Leaving in ’13-’14: Memphis, Houston, SMU, UCF
  • Leaving in ’14-’15: Tulsa, East Carolina, Tulane

Got all that?

MOUNTAIN WEST: The MWC looked like it was going to get raided. TCU had already gotten scooped up by the Big 12 via the Big East, and Boise State and San Diego State both looked like their football programs were going to force their hoops programs out of the conference. But the Big East imploded, so both the Broncos and the Aztecs remain. Plus, the MWC added Utah State — who has a great basketball program — and San Jose State from the WAC.

WAC: After Idaho leaves for the Big Sky in 2014-2015, the only two WAC programs left will be New Mexico State and Seattle, and Seattle joined the conference in 2012. They will be filling out a hoops roster, however: Utah Valley, UT-Pan American, Chicago State (Great West), UMKC (Summit), Cal St-Bakersfield (Independents), and Grand Canyon (Division II) all join the league.

SUN BELT: Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Middle Tennessee, and North Texas are all headed to Conference USA, but they will be replaced by Georgia State, UT-Arlington and Texas State.

CAA: After losing VCU, the CAA will lose George Mason (A-10), Old Dominion (CUSA) and Georgia State (Sun Belt) this offseason. They do bring in the College of Charleston, however.

HORIZON: The Horizon League loses Loyola-Chicago to the MVC, but replaces them with Oakland from the Summit League.

SUMMIT: The Summit League loses Oakland and UMKC (who is headed to the WAC), but they did bring in a good Denver program from the WAC.

MISSOURI VALLEY: The MVC takes a hit with Creighton leaving for the Big East, but they get replaced by Loyola-Chicago, bringing in the league’s first major metropolitan area.

WCC: The WCC adds Pacific as their 10th member. Pacific comes from the Big West, who tried to replace them with San Diego State.

MAAC: The MAAC will lose Loyola (MD) to the Patriot League, but they somehow managed to hang on to Iona and Siena, arguably the two most desired programs in the league, while adding Quinnipiac and Monmouth from the NEC.

PATRIOT: The Patriot League was one of the big winners in realignment, adding both Boston U. (from the America East) and Loyola (MD) (from the MAAC).

AMERICA EAST: They lose BU to the Patriot, but add UMass-Lowell from the Division II ranks.

SOCON: The only change this season will be that the SoCon is losing the College of Charleston to the CAA, but next year Davidson will be headed out the door and on to the Atlantic 10.

SOUTHLAND: The Southland scooped up a bunch of the low-major leftovers from realignment, adding Houston Baptist from the Great West, New Orleans from the Independents and Division I newcomers Abilene Christian and Incarnate Word.

Here’s a full list of the schools changing leagues this year:

  • Abilene Christian: Division II to the Southland
  • Boston U.: America East to the Patriot League
  • Butler: Atlantic 10 to the Big East
  • Cal St-Bakersfield: Independent to the WAC
  • Central Florida: Conference USA to the AAC
  • Charleston: SoCon to the CAA
  • Charlotte: Atlantic 10 to Conference USA
  • Chicago State: Great West to the WAC
  • Cincinnati: Big East to the AAC
  • UConn: Big East to the AAC
  • Creighton: Missouri Valley to the Big East
  • Denver: WAC to the Summit
  • FAU: Sun Belt to Conference USA
  • FIU: Sun Belt to Conference USA
  • George Mason: CAA to the Atlantic 10
  • Georgia State: CAA to the Sun Belt
  • Grand Canyon: Division II to the WAC
  • Houston: Conference USA to the AAC
  • Houston Baptist: Great West to the Southland
  • Incarnate Word: Division II to the Southland
  • Louisiana Tech: WAC to Conference USA
  • Loyola-Chicago: Horizon to the MVC
  • Loyola (MD): MAAC to the Patriot
  • UMass-Lowell: Division II to the America East
  • Memphis: Conference USA to the AAC
  • MTSU: Sun Belt to Conference USA
  • UMKC: Summit to the WAC
  • Monmouth: NEC to the MAAC
  • NJIT: Great West to Independent
  • New Orleans: Independent to the Southland
  • North Texas: Sun Belt to Conference USA
  • Notre Dame: Big East to the ACC
  • Oakland: Summit to the Horizon
  • Old Dominion: CAA to Conference USA
  • Pacific: Big West to the WCC
  • Pitt: Big East to the ACC
  • Quinnipiac: NEC to the MAAC
  • San Jose State: WAC to the MWC
  • SMU: Conference USA to the AAC
  • South Florida: Big East to the AAC
  • Syracuse: Big East to the ACC
  • Temple: Atlantic 10 to the AAC
  • UT-Arlington: WAC to the Sun Belt
  • UT-Pan American: Great West to the WAC
  • UT-San Antonio: WAC to Conference USA
  • Texas State: WAC to the Sun Belt
  • Utah State: WAC to the MWC
  • Utah Valley: Great West to the WAC
  • Xavier: Atlantic 10 to the Big East

Government shutdown forces Air Force to cancel all athletic events

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The Air Force Academy has been forced to cancel all home and away games due to the government shutdown, the school announced on Saturday.

Announcing on the official Air Force Academy Twitter page, the school will attempt to reschedule as many missed events as possible.

Canceled games include a home men’s basketball game against Fresno State on Saturday and a home hockey game against Sacred Heart. According to a report from the Colorado Springs Gazette, the women’s basketball team is in Fresno, Calif., for a road game against Fresno State, but that game will also not be played.

This is an unprecedented measure for the Air Force Academy as they’ve been able to play through government shutdowns before. In 2013, the USAA gave a $230,000 check to help Air Force football travel to Navy for its game. Government shutdowns in the 1990s also never forced the cancellation of any major Air Force games in the past.

A source told NBC Sports that Army’s athletic department has not been affected as it is privately funded. Navy’s athletic department should also be able to operate and continue under the government shutdown since they are privately funded.

Without private sponsors helping, it looks like Air Force won’t be playing until the government shutdown is over. The Gazette also reported on Saturday that Air Force athletic officials knew that this could be a possibility and said it would be an “11th hour decision.”

Air Force men’s basketball is 8-10 with a 2-4 record in the Mountain West this season. While the Falcons haven’t been a major contender, they had the momentum of a small two-game winning streak heading into Saturday’s home game against Fresno State.

The Falcons are also scheduled to play on the road at Utah State on Wednesday and host Boise State next Saturday.

Bosnian professional team announces they have signed Billy Preston

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Billy Preston has signed with BC Igokea, a Bosnian professional team, according to a release put out by the club on Saturday.

“We are thrilled to welcome Billy Preston to our club,” the statement read. “We were watching his situation closely and reached out to his family to show interest and ultimately reached an agreement with the family attorney in California on a contract for the rest of the season. We know Billy is an NBA prospect so we will do our best to continue his development to help him excel for our club and fulfill his goal which is to be an NBA star in the near future.”

“Billy Preston is foregoing his eligibility to play at Kansas and has signed with a professional team in Bosnia,” head coach Bill Self said in a statement provided to NBC Sports. “Billy’s family has been very upfront telling us that his first choice was to stay at Kansas, but with the uncertainty of the situation they needed to look at other potential options. This opportunity in Bosnia came with a deadline for a decision, and the family reached that decision Friday afternoon.”

“We are all disappointed that Billy never had the opportunity to experience college basketball competition but we certainly support him and wish him the best. Although he has been frustrated with the situation, Billy’s attitude has been tremendous and he has developed as a person and as a player. I’m sure that will continue as he prepares for his professional career.”

Igokea’s roster also includes former UCLA guard Malcolm Lee, former Oregon and UTEP guard Dominic Artis and Katin Reinhardt, who played at UNLV, USC and Marquette.

Preston had enrolled at Kansas as a freshman this season, but he was involved in a car accident prior to the start of the season. He was held out from competition as the school attempted to find out who was paying for the vehicle.

Ugly growing pains: No. 18 Kentucky needs to fix mistakes

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — John Calipari warned the growing pains would be ugly for his youngest Kentucky squad.

It’s been an annual caution from the coach, but this time he may not have been exaggerating. Kentucky has two losses in its last three Southeastern road contests.

But all is not lost.

The No. 18 Wildcats (14-4, 4-2) return home to face first-place Florida (13-5, 5-1) Saturday night with a chance to erase a one-game deficit to the Gators. And after playing four of its first six SEC games on the road, Kentucky gets to close January with three of its next four at Rupp Arena.

The immediate goal is correcting mistakes in a loss to South Carolina, a setback that Calipari said revealed how green his freshman really are.

“My issue right now is we’re playing a really good team and we needed some time to focus on them, but at this point we can’t,” Calipari said Friday. “If we get this right and it’s not good enough, then we move on to the next game.

“But if we get it right, then I’m going to feel good. If I don’t get it right, it doesn’t matter. At some point this has got to change and we’ve got to focus.”

Though Calipari is accustomed to annually guiding a new group of talented yet inexperienced teenagers through high expectations, this particular group is his youngest with no upperclassmen among his regulars. The communication and unselfish play he has stressed was absent as Kentucky blew a 14-point, second-half lead in Tuesday’s 76-68 loss at South Carolina .

Already short handed with point guard Quade Green sidelined for a third straight game because of a back issue, the Wildcats had three players foul out in the contest. Kentucky was also outrebounded 40-35 and recorded a season-low seven assists — with none from Hamidou Diallo or fellow guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

Calipari said the performance was the first time the Wildcats truly resembled freshmen but isn’t using youth as an excuse. If anything, he’s pushing players shake their youthful bad habits along with the memory of that defeat.

Calipari “just wants us to play harder the whole 40 minutes,” forward PJ Washington said. “We’ve been scrimmaging a lot more to get us in game-like situations. … You can never really try too hard. You just have to keep that mindset and just move on to the next opponent.”

One bright spot for Kentucky’s rotation was the debut of 6-foot-9 forward Jarred Vanderbilt after being sidelined with a left foot injury. The freshman had six points, five rebounds and a team-high three assists in 14 minutes against the Gamecocks, an encouraging start that has allowed the Wildcats to scrimmage more with him.

“He plays with a lot of energy,” freshman forward Nick Richards said of Vanderbilt. “We see it in practice a lot. He plays hard every possession. That could be one thing that could help us.”

Green’s availability meanwhile remains a game-time decision. If nothing else, Calipari would like him back to have another shooter, not to mention with someone who communicates with teammates. On the other hand, Green’s absence has allowed Gilgeous-Alexander to play the point alongside Diallo.

But after fouls and shaky play forced Kentucky to use a number of combinations at South Carolina, the mission this weekend is ensuring whatever lineup is out there plays more consistently to slow down a Florida squad seeking its eighth win in nine games.

“It just comes with your mental” approach, Washington said. “You just gotta be prepared every day in and every day out and just fight on a consistent basis, just get shots up in the gym and just continue to focus on you and getting better.”

No. 9 Michigan State bounces back and routs Indiana 85-57

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EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Miles Bridges scored 22 points and Nick Ward had 18 points and 13 rebounds to help No. 9 Michigan State bounce back with an 85-57 win over Indiana on Friday night.

The Spartans (17-3, 5-2 Big Ten) had a confidence-boosting performance after going from a top-ranked team to a reeling one. They were slumping after a 16-point loss at Ohio State, an overtime win over Rutgers and an 82-72 setback to Michigan at home.

The Hoosiers (11-8, 4-3) lost for the first time in four games, falling into a fourth-place tie with the Wolverines and Nebraska.

Michigan State took control with an 18-0 run midway through the first half, led by as much as 23 and was ahead 42-23 at halftime. The Spartans stayed ahead by a comfortable margin in the second half by spreading the ball around and making it tough for the Hoosiers to make shots.

Cassius Winston had 10 points, eight assists and only one turnover, while Jaren Jackson had 10 points, six rebounds, three blocks and three assists for the Spartans.

Indiana’s Robert Johnson had 21 points and the rest of his teammates struggled offensively. Josh Newkirk scored 14, but missed 12 of 17 shots and the Hoosiers were held to 34 percent shooting.

FAMOUS FAN

Alex Rodriguez, who was in Detroit for the North American International Auto Show, attended the game. He went to Michigan State’s shootaround earlier in the day and wore an “Izzone” T-shirt while standing in the student section behind coach Tom Izzo, his staff and players.

“I’ve always been a big fan of Izzo,” Rodriguez said.

BIG PICTURE

Indiana: The Hoosiers had a hard time competing without Juwan Morgan playing as he has lately. One of the Big Ten’s leaders in scoring, rebounding, steals and shooting before the game started was limited to two points on 1-of-5 shooting, three rebounds and one steal.

Michigan State: The Spartans desperately needed to get their swagger back and they did, suddenly looking like the team that was ranked No. 1 two weeks ago.

Weekend Preview: Big East showdown headlines an interesting slate of games

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SATURDAY’S SHOWDOWNS

*(NOTE: Lines are not posted for Saturday or Sunday games as of publication. Spreads referenced are via Kenpom.com)

No. 11 XAVIER at No. 19 SETON HALL (-1), Sat. 2:30 p.m. (FOX)

The only game this weekend featuring two teams that are currently ranked in the top 25, Xavier and Seton Hall square off in a battle of programs trending in opposite directions. Now that Trevon Bluiett has rediscovered his shooting stroke, the Musketeers have reeled off back-to-back wins, including a beatdown of then-No. 25 Creighton. Seton Hall, on the other hand, lost by a combined 37 points at Marquette and Creighton in the last 11 days and struggled with a Georgetown team that was down 44 points at home against Villanova.

  • PREDICTION: Xavier’s new starting lineup will be interesting. The Musketeers are much more offensively oriented right now, but Kerem Kanter and Naji Marshall are not exactly known for their defense and physicality. Seton Hall has a big, old, tough and strong front line. I think they get this win they badly needed in front of a packed out. Seton Hall (-1)

No. 14 ARIZONA (-5) at STANFORD, Sat. 4:00 p.m. (CBS)

First place in the Pac-12 is on the line as 5-1 Arizona squares off with 5-1 Stanford. And yes, you read that correctly. In their last five games in league play, the Cardinal have swept the LA schools at home, the Washington schools on the road and beaten Arizona State in their place. Now they get the best team in the Pac-12. Stanford is healthy and playing the best basketball they’ve played in a long, long time.

  • PREDICTION: If Stanford is getting five points at home I am all over the Cardinal. The problem is that I don’t think they will be. KenPom’s projections don’t factor in that Stanford is healthy and hot. I think the line will be closer to Stanford (-2), and I would still probably take them. Stanford (-5)

FLORIDA at No. 18 KENTUCKY (-3), Sat. 8:15 p.m.

This matchup is fascinating. Two teams that still have quite figured things out that play polar opposite styles of basketball. Florida is loaded with quick, veteran guards that fire up threes. Kentucky is loaded big, athletic forwards that can’t really shoot. Coming off of a loss at South Carolina, I think this game is probably more important for Kentucky, who finally looks like they are going to be healthy.

  • PREDICTION: Can Kentucky overwhelm Florida with their size or will the Gators exploit the mismatches with their guards? That answer really comes down to whether or not the Gators get hot from deep. I’m going to guess that they will since they have a tendency to show up in big games. Florida (+3)

WHAT ELSE IS THERE TO WATCH?

  • No. 1 Villanova (-17) at UConn, Sat. 12:00 p.m. (CBS): The big question in this game for me, beyond “Will UConn lose by enough for UConn to fire Kevin Ollie on the spot?”, is whether or not Villanova is the elite team in college basketball that we swear doesn’t exist. Villanova (-17)
  • No. 7 Wichita State (-1) at Houston, Sat. 12:00 p.m. (ESPNU): The Shockers have turned into a defensive liability out of nowhere, and on Saturday they will be traveling to visit a Houston team that badly needs this win. Wichita State (-1)
  • No. 4 Oklahoma (-3) at Oklahoma State, Sat. 2:00 p.m. (ESPN): Trae Young hasn’t been right for a couple of weeks, and now he gets a rival on the road. Is this the game that he figures it out? Oklahoma (-3)
  • BAYLOR at No. 10 KANSAS (-8), Sat. 6:00 p.m. (ESPN): Kansas has actually had some issues at home this season, more than they’ve had on the road. Baylor tends to play the Jayhawks tough. Is this a letdown spot after that massive win at West Virginia? Kansas (-8)