Rob Dauster of College Basketball Talk and Kurt Helin of Pro Basketball Talk team up to provide a comprehensive first round mock draft. We also discuss leftover NBA Finals topics.
Footlocker has cornered the market when it comes to awkward commercials with young athletes. Remember when D’angelo Russell threw Ben Simmons’ phone out the window?
The Big Ten seems as if it is destined to follow the ACC down the path of 20 conference games in the near future.
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany told ESPN earlier this week that the conference is having discussions about whether or not to expand the league schedule, and Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo is quoted in the story as saying that “I don’t think there’s any question it’s going to happen.”
This comes of the heels of the ACC announcing that they will be expanding to a 20 game conference schedule starting in the 2019-20 season.
On the surface, this does have some appeal. This will push the start of conference play up closer to Christmas and almost certainly before the turn of the calendar, meaning that the meat of college basketball’s regular season will begin a week earlier for what is arguably the two most relevant and best conferences in the country. It’s not necessarily a bad thing for college basketball to try and carve out a larger slice of college football’s bowl season.
The problem is that a 20 game league schedule only makes it more difficult for high major programs to challenge themselves in non-conference play.
There are two factors at play here. For starters, more conference games means more potential losses, which makes it that much for difficult to convince coaches that may need to get to 20 wins to save their job (or hit an incentive in their contract) to schedule any quality out of conference opponents. But what will be more difficult to navigate is the requirements put on programs by athletic directors that mandate a certain number of home games during a season. A lot of revenue is generated for the athletic department by playing games at home, and most ADs require a specific number of home games on the schedule to bring in that revenue; and AD’s job isn’t just to get make their school’s sports teams competitive, it is to make sure the athletic department operates in the black or as close to it as possible.
The number that is required differs from school to school, but the industry standard tends to be 16 homes games for the entire season. With an 18 game league schedule, nine are played at home, meaning that seven of the 13 non-conference games would have to be played at home to reach that quota. If there are 20 league games, 10 are played at home and six of the 11 non-conference games would have to be home games.
Now take Michigan State, for example. The Spartans are almost always going to be playing in an exempt event in November in addition to playing in the Champions Classic and the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. In a year where their exempt event has eight teams — like the Maui Invitational or the PK80 tournament in Portland this year — and the Spartans are given a road game in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, their spot in the Champions Classic means that they suddenly are put into a position where their other six non-conference games must be played in the Breslin Center to hit 16 home games.
They aren’t the only power conference school that will feel that schedule crunch, but other high profile programs (Kentucky, UNC, Duke, UCLA, etc.) will feel it as well, meaning home-and-home series between those programs will be less and less likely.
It also makes it that much more unlikely that teams from leagues like the ACC or the Big Ten would ever challenge themselves with a road game against anyone outside of their league, let alone a road game against a mid-major program.
So while it is a good thing to create more conference rivalry games and to reduce, as much as possible, the unbalanced schedules of the bloated power conferences in a post-realignment world, the toll that it will take on the non-conference schedule — further removing high-profile non-conference games from on-campus venues, where college basketball is meant to be played — may make this decision a net-negative in the long run.
Terrance Ferguson, the latest prep phenom to skip college and go directly to the professional ranks overseas, had a lot to say about how his decision to turn pro helped him as a basketball player this week. His comments come at an interesting time, as the debate over the one-and-done rule has been reignited.
“I’m way more prepared than any college player,” Ferguson told the Charlotte Observer this week. “A college player is coming in thinking he’s the man. After you’ve sat on the bench (on a pro team), they’re not going to like that. I’ve already faced that overseas. I overcome that, so I have the right mindset coming into the league.”
“It’s very physical; a grown-man league,” added Ferguson, who may not have been academically eligible had he opted to attend Arizona. “Everyone over there was going to go after me. I just had to hold my ground and be tough.”
He’s got a point.
RELATED: Should the NBA get rid of the age-limit?
In college, one-and-done talents are going up against players that are their own age, and typically they are going to be the best player on the floor to say nothing of the idea that college coaches may feel obligated to give them a chance; the goal for those kids is to get to the NBA, and if a coach stifles that chance, then next one-and-done prospect considering that school will take notice.
Ferguson, who spent last season playing for the Adelaide 36ers in Australia’s National Basketball League, was owed no such favors. He had to earn minutes playing on a team with professionals —
grown men a decade his senior — scrapping to keep their career alive and their income stream running.
That’s tough, and there’s certainly an argument to be made that Ferguson is going to be better prepared to handle the fight for minutes better than some of his peers; going from always being the best player on the floor to struggling to get minutes is a shock to the system.
But it’s also fair to wonder whether or not Ferguson’s struggle to get minutes — he averaged 4.6 points in less than 15 minutes this season — stunted his development as a player. It’s a fair argument to make that, at 18 or 19 years old, it’s more important to play and get better than it is to learn how to deal with playing on a pro team.
Then there is the money side of this.
“At college, the only people making money off you are the coaches,” said Ferguson. “You’re not making anything off your jersey sales, ticket sales. Not anything. So go overseas, the way I did, and get your money’s worth. Get paid for what you’re doing.”
And that’s a fair point as well. Ferguson reportedly earned close to $1 million this year, which is roughly what Brandon Jennings and Emmanuel Mudiay — Ferguson’s two predecessors in skipping college to play overseas — made in Italy and China.
But Mudiay, who had always been considered the best point guard in his class as a top three prospect, was picked seventh, behind D’angelo Russell. Jennings was the No. 1 player in his class and went 10th. Ferguson was top 15 prospect and is projected as a late first round pick.
Should I mention that it’s naive to believe that elite prospects don’t get anything while they’re playing in college?
To date, Jennings, Mudiay and Ferguson have yet to be the trend-setters many have expected them to be. No one in the Class of 2017 is expected to end up playing overseas, largely because, while college basketball isn’t perfect, it is still the best option for high school prospects.
Greg Anthony had himself a pretty good basketball career. He averaged 12 points for UNLV, winning a national title and getting to another national title game, before getting drafted 12th in the 1991 NBA Draft. He’d spend a decade in the league, averaging 14 points one year, before eventually becoming a broadcaster.
His son Cole, a member of the Class of 2019, may end up being better than him. Check this mixtape out.
Arizona, who may be the best team in college basketball next season, released their 2017-18 non-conference schedule over the weekend.
It’s highlighted by a trip to the Battle 4 Atlantis, an event where the Wildcats could end up playing the likes of Villanova, Purdue and SMU, all three of whom could end up being preseason top 25 teams.
Arizona also deserves credit for playing just five games against mid-major competition while taking a pair of road trips to take on teams from the Mountain West — UNLV and New Mexico. The Wildcats will also host UConn and Alabama while squaring off with Texas A&M in Phoenix; as weird as this will sound to a casual basketball fan, the games against Alabama and Texas A&M will be the toughest of the bunch.
If there is a place to quibble with Arizona’s scheduling, it’s that they didn’t end up with many marquee non-conference games. Alabama and A&M both might be top 25 teams that no one cares about, while games against UNLV and UConn look better on paper than they will be as both programs are in a bit of a rut.
Here is the full schedule:
Nov. 10 Northern Arizona, (Tucson, Ariz.)
Nov. 12 UMBC, (Tucson, Ariz.)
Nov. 16 Cal State Bakersfield, (Tucson, Ariz.)
Nov. 22-24 Battle 4 Atlantis (Villanova, Purdue, N.C. State, Tennessee, SMU, Western Kentucky and Northern Iowa), Bahamas (Imperial Arena)
Nov. 29 Long Beach State, (Tucson, Ariz.)
Dec. 2 at UNLV, (Las Vegas, Nev)
Dec. 5 vs. Texas A&M, (Phoenix, Ariz.)
Dec. 9 Alabama, (Tucson, Ariz.)
Dec. 16 at New Mexico, (Albuquerque, N.M.)
Dec. 18 North Dakota State, (Tucson, Ariz.)
Dec. 21 UConn, (Tucson, Ariz.)