It appears likely that the Champions Classic will be renewed

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There has been a push in college basketball to make the games that are being played in November and December more meaningful and interesting.

The early season holiday tournaments and the numerous showcase games have been pretty successful at creating excitement in the non-conference portion of the schedule, but nothing has come close to replicating the greatness of Champions Classic.

If you haven’t been paying attention, the Champions Classic is a three-year round-robin series that has featured Michigan State, Kentucky, Kansas and Duke. It’s been played in three different cities (New York, then Atlanta, and, this season, Chicago), and it has been scheduled by ESPN to happen as the finishing kick of their College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon.

This year, all four participants just so happen to find themselves as consensus top ten teams, with some ranking all four in their preseason top five. It’s without a doubt the highlight of college basketball’s fall schedule, and it looks like it will be happening for three more years.

“I think there was a little problem with Kentucky, but I think they just re-upped,” Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo told local radio show The Drive with Jack on Friday. “We definitely wanted to sign up for another three years,” Izzo added. “It’s been a great event, good for our fans, alumni in those areas.”

“If we’re invited, we’re in.”

What’s more, Larry Keating, who is in charge of scheduling for Kansas, told that the Jayhawks have agreed to continue to participate in the event.

“I think everybody’s happy with it,” Keating said. “There have been discussions for a year about renewing it. It’s a matter of everybody filling their schedules, (ESPN) getting the cities and facilities lined up (before anything is announced). I do believe it’ll stay the first Tuesday of the season, anchoring ESPN’s 24 hours of basketball.”

If you’ve read this far, than you should already know my feelings on the matter. Here’s to hoping that all parties make the right decision and keep this awesome event on the schedule in the future.

(h/t The Dagger)

Syracuse receives mixed news on sanctions appeals

Jim Boeheim
Associated Press
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Wednesday the NCAA made its ruling on two appeals of sanctions made by Syracuse University, with the news being mixed for the men’s basketball program.

On the positive side the NCAA ruled that Syracuse will be docked two scholarships per season for the next four years, as opposed to the original ruling of three. As a result Jim Boeheim’s program only has to account for the loss of eight total scholarships, meaning that they’ll have 11 to fill in each of the next four seasons as opposed to ten.

One scholarship may not seem like a big deal, but in a sport where you only get 13 (when not dealing with sanctions) getting that grant-in-aid back really helps from a recruiting standpoint.

As for the negatives, they both concern Boeheim. Not only has there yet to be a ruling on Boeheim’s appeal of his nine-game suspension that goes into effect when ACC play begins in January (that appeal is being heard separately), but the appeal to reinstate the wins that were vacated as part of the sanctions was denied. As a result Boeheim officially has 868 wins instead of 969 (not counting today’s game against Charlotte).

And with Mike Hopkins set to take over as head coach in 2018, the denial means that college basketball will have to wait quite some time before anyone threatens to join Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski in the 1,000 wins club.

While not having the wins officially reinstated does hurt, getting a scholarship back for each of the next four seasons is a bigger deal when it comes to the long-term health of the Syracuse program. Also of great importance will be the ruling regarding Boeheim’s suspension, as a suspended coach is not allowed to have any contact with his players or coaching staff while serving the penalty.

And with the original ruling due to take up half of Syracuse’s league slate, not having Boeheim (or the chance to speak with him) is a big deal when it comes to this current team.

St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe cleared by NCAA

Chris Mullin
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
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St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe has been cleared by the NCAA to play this season and will be eligible immediately, the school announced on Wednesday.

Yakwe is a 6-foot-8 forward that reclassified and enrolled at St. John’s this fall. He attended the same high school as Kansas forward Cheick Diallo, who was also cleared by the NCAA to play today.

St. John’s played in the Maui Invitational this week, and Yakwe did not take part. His first game with the Johnnies will be on Dec. 2nd against Fordham if the program plans to play his this season.

The question that must be asked, however, is whether or not he will suit up or simply redshirt. The Johnnies are in the midst of a serious rebuild and will be without their other elite recruit this season, Marcus Lovett. Lovett was ruled a partial qualifier. Would it make sense to burn a year of eligibility on what make amount to a wasted season, or will head coach Chris Mullin opt to save that year for down the road?