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Are the Pac-12’s scheduling practices hurting the league’s rivalries?

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With conference realignment occurring frequently over the last few years, we’re finally starting to see conference movement settle down a bit as it pertains to the major college basketball conferences of America.

It’ll take some time getting used to seeing Syracuse in the ACC or Creighton in the Big East, but one of the things that college basketball fans will also have to adapt to is the changing of conference schedules and how it will change inter-conference rivalries.

I’m not talking about Syracuse and Georgetown being in different leagues, or any other splits like that, but this is more about current rivalries that are staying in the same conference and being affected by scheduling changes due to realignment.

One league this could really be hurting down the road because of imbalanced scheduling is the Pac-12. If you enjoyed this past weekend’s matchup with Washington and Arizona, well, you won’t see them play in the regular season again this season unless they meet in the Pac-12 Tournament. That’s a shame.

As this article from Javier Morales of the Tuscon Citizen explains, this is a problem Arizona faces with a couple of key rivals in the Pac-12 over the next few seasons.

The Pac-12’s two perennial powers of UCLA and Arizona also face each other only once this season and Arizona won’t get their return trip to Washington this season to give the Huskies a chance at revenge.

This can’t be good to uphold good basketball rivalries and draw nationwide attention to the Pac-12’s marquee matchups. Games like UCLA and Arizona draw national interest and by having those games only once a year in some seasons, it hurts national interest to the Pac-12 from casual fans.

Morales notes in the article that the ACC made sure to uphold rivalries like Duke and North Carolina by giving each team designated primary partners that each team in the league would play twice a year. The Big East — pre-conference realignment — also adopted a similar scheduling policy to uphold rivalries before the league went down to 10 teams again.

Morales made a few suggestions on ways around the current Pac-12 basketball scheduling model:

Possible solutions:

1. Follow the ACC format

2. Schedule a non-conference game between UCLA and Arizona when the programs are scheduled to meet only once in the Pac-12 season, as will be the case this season and next.

3. Structure the Pac-12 into North and South divisions similar to football.

It would be hard to watch non-conference games between conference opponents when the stakes aren’t nearly as high, so the Pac-12 should clearly look into Morales’ option 1 or 3 if they want to protect Pac-12 basketball rivalries.

Watching Arizona only face Washington and UCLA once this season when they’re in the midst of a potentially special year is cheating fans of Pac-12 basketball — and college basketball — of some additional great games. Let’s hope the Pac-12 can come up with some sort of solution for this problem going forward and give the fans the matchups that they want.

VIDEO: Marquette’s Henry Ellenson shows off his versatility

Marquette's Henry Ellenson is fouled by Providence's Ben Bentil as he drives to the basket during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
(AP Photo/Morry Gash)
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I’m on record saying that I would consider Marquette freshman Henry Ellenson if I had the No. 2 pick in the NBA Draft, and while, at this point, I think that Brandon Ingram is probably going to end up going No. 2 — (Maybe No. 1???) — I still believe that Ellenson is going to be one of the best players from this draft class.

Why?

Well, just take a look at these highlights from the 26-point, 16-rebound performance he had in a win over Providence last night.

Then remember that Ellenson is 6-foot-11:

POSTERIZED: Pensacola State’s Jamal Thomas dunks through block attempt, makes coach go nuts

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A solid poster dunk went down in the junior college ranks last night as Pensacola State sophomore Jamal Thomas finished a dunk through a block attempt against Northwest Florida State.

The 6-foot-3 Thomas used his power and momentum to go through the opposing shot blocker and the play made his head coach, Pete Pena, go nuts with an over-exaggerated fist pump. The video is short, but be sure to watch for Pena’s reaction near the logo at the top right of the screen.