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Big Ten to begin league play first weekend of December in 2017

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Big Ten basketball is going to feel the aftershocks of the conference’s push to add more east coast Big Ten Network subscribers this winter, as their attempts to spread the league’s footprint will change the schedule for conference play this season.

A year after playing the conference tournament in Washington D.C.’s Verizon Center, the Big Ten will be hosting the event in New York City at Madison Square Garden next March.

On paper, that sounds like a great idea until you consider that the Big East will be holding their tournament in the building as well. What that means is that the Big Ten will be forced to play their tournament a week earlier than usual. The way that the schedule usually works for conference tournaments is that power conference tournaments will host their events the week leading into Selection Sunday with the low- and mid-major leagues playing their tournament games the week prior to that. Typically, the Big Ten has been the league to play the last game before the NCAA tournament Selection Show, tipping off at 3:30 p.m. on Selection Sunday, with the game leading directly into the bracket’s unveiling.

But in order to wedge themselves into MSG, the league will be hosting their conference tournament a week earlier than usual, at the same time as conferences like the Patriot League and the Ohio Valley.

In order to make that timing work, the conference will essentially have to eliminate a week of league play. To make that a reality, the Big Ten has decided that each member of the league will play a home game and a road game the first weekend of December. They’ll play either Friday-Sunday or Saturday-Monday, depending on when and where they play an ACC/Big Ten Challenge game; that event will be held on the Tuesday and Wednesday prior to the start of Big Ten play.

In other words, during the final week of November and the first week of December — which will be three weeks after the start of college basketball season and upwards of a month before any other high-major conference starts their league play — the Big Ten will force teams to play one of their most important non-conference games AND their first two league games within the span of six or seven days.

All so that they can make as much money as humanly possible off of the part of the country they’re trying to annex into the “Big Ten cable footprint”.

And there still isn’t enough money to be able to pay athletes, because this isn’t just a business and it’s all about getting a scholarship and an education and playing for the love of the game.

Right?

Utah’s Kyle Kuzma to sign with an agent, forgo final season of eligibility

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Utah forward Kyle Kuzma announced on Wednesday night that he has hired an agent and will keep his name in the NBA Draft.

A 6-foot-9 forward from Flint, Michigan, Kuzma averaged 16.4 points and 9.3 boards as a junior this past season, but saw his three-point shooting numbers slip as he was asked to play a larger for with Jakob Poeltl off to the NBA.

Kuzma had just finished his fourth season with the Utes, having redshirted his first season on campus, which means that while he had a year of eligibility remaining, he had already completed his degree.

Losing Kuzma is a major blow for Larry Krystkowiak, as there is no guarantee that Kuzma will get drafted. He’s projected as a late second round pick, but could very easily find himself looking at being an undrafted free agent in June.

Richard Pitino inks contract extension after incredible one-year turnaround

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Richard Pitino put together the most impressive turn around of any program this past season, taking an eight-win Minnesota team — one that was so bad on the court and ran into trouble with the law so many times off of it — that he had entered the season sitting at the top of just about every hot seat list on the internet.

By the end of the season, the Gophers were a No. 5 seed in the NCAA tournament with a 24-10 record, improving 16 games on the previous season and putting themselves in a position where they are ranked No. 14 in the NBC Sports Preseason Top 25.

“Since I came back to Minnesota as the AD last May, I have been impressed with Coach Pitino and his management of our men’s basketball program,” said Athletics Director Mark Coyle. “I’ve seen accountability, commitment and focus from every student-athlete and member of the men’s basketball staff, led by Coach Pitino. The team’s success on the court this year generated a lot of excitement on campus and around the state. I’m looking forward to much more of that with Coach Pitino leading our program.”

Pitino, who was named the Big Ten Coach of the Year last season, will enter his fifth season as the head coach of the Gophers. His contract was extended through 2022,

Ex-Washington, NBA star Brandon Roy reportedly shot in the leg

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Former University of Washington star and NBA All-Star Brandon Roy was reportedly shot in the leg in Los Angeles over the weekend while visiting family.

According to USA Today, gunfire erupted outside of his Grandmother’s house, and Roy took the bullet as he was protecting children that were playing outside at the time.

The Portland Trail Blazers, whom Roy spent his entire NBA Career with, released a statement on the incident.

“Like many others, we’re just learning of the injury suffered by former Trail Blazers player Brandon Roy in a shooting over the weekend in California,” the statement read. “According to those reports, Brandon was wounded as a bystander but is expected to recover. Our thoughts and prayers are with Brandon and his family.”

Roy spent this past basketball season as the head coach at Nathan Hale HS in Seattle, the school that Michael Porter Jr. and Jontay Porter attended.

Luke Kennard’s hometown dealing with crime wave as thieves target Mr. Basketball signs

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A crime-wave has hit Luke Kennard’s hometown of Franklin, Ohio.

It seems people cannot stop stealing signs declaring Franklin the home of Ohio’s two-time Mr. Basketball.

Franklin is not a large town — population 11,771, according to Wikipedia — and they are awful proud of producing Kennard, who twice won Mr. Basketball in the state of Ohio and had more career points in high school than LeBron James.

How proud?

Well, they made five signs at the entry points for the town that let everyone entering Franklin that, yes, it was indeed the home of Luke Kennard. Well, since Kennard has declared for the NBA Draft, two of those five signs have been stolen, forcing the other three to be taken down as a precaution.

Those signs reportedly cost $155.00 to make, making the thieves that swiped those signs quite possibly the dumbest criminals since this guy.

Theo Pinson returning to North Carolina for senior season

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North Carolina and Theo Pinson announced on Wednesday that the 6-foot-6 wing will be returning to school for his senior season.

“I’m glad I took the time to explore the NBA Draft process but I am going to play my senior year as a Tar Heel,” said Pinson in a statement. “It was a dream of mine to play college basketball at the best school and in the best league in the country, and it is a dream of mine to play in the NBA as well. The best path for me to reach the league and have a long career there is to have a great senior season and I am so excited to have that opportunity to play another year for Coach Williams and finish my degree as well.”

As a junior, Pinson averaged 6.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.7 assists despite battling foot injuries throughout the year. A former five-star prospect, Pinson has developed into a key role player for the Tar Heels, a guy that fits in perfectly on the wing.

Last week, Joel Berry II announced that he would be returning to school for his senior season as well, meaning that Roy Williams is currently waiting on two decisions: Tony Bradley and Kevin Knox. Bradley is a potential first round pick if he opts to head to the NBA, but he’s also a guy that could end up being one of the five best big men in college basketball should he return to school. Knox, a top ten prospect in the Class of 2017, would be the ideal replacement for Justin Jackson on the wing. He is expected to make a decision soon, and will reportedly be picking between UNC, Duke, Kentucky and Florida State.

If the Tar Heels get both of those players, they’ll likely end up being the preseason No. 1 team in the country.