Jay Bilas is allowed one bad idea each offseason, and this is the one

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Earlier on Wednesday, ESPN’s resident college hoops handyman, Jay Bilas, posted a column that argued the elimination of two-thirds of 350ish teams currently participating at the Division I level.

Essentially, Bilas is saying that since there are so money non-competitive, uninteresting guarantee games that take place in November and December that we can drum up interest in college hoops by eliminating the supply.

In other words, he wants to force the best teams in the country to have to challenge themselves early in the year:

With a smaller field, the quality of matchups during the regular season will improve because teams will not have such a wide range of cupcakes to schedule. Is there really any compelling reason for Kentucky to play Marist, Radford, Portland, and Chattanooga at Rupp? Does anyone outside of Lexington care to see those matchups? Does it make any more sense than playing Transylvania or Morehouse, the Cats’ exhibition games?

Does it move anyone to see North Carolina play Elon, Nicholls, Mississippi Valley State, Monmouth or Tennessee State at home?

Personally, I not only hate the idea, but I don’t see how it would be feasible to pull off without eliminating the best parts of the NCAA tournament.

If this move was made ten years ago, would George Mason, VCU, Butler and St. Mary’s have been on the wrong side of the chopping block? What about the Murray States, Lehighs, Belmonts and Norfolk States of the world? How do you pick which programs to keep around from leagues like the Missouri Valley or the CAA?

Bilas brings up the idea of allowing the conference champions from the leagues that get demoted to partake in the NCAA tournament. Ok. That might save the cinderellas, but is that any different than setting an NCAA-wide ban on how poorly a team is allowed to schedule? Would that be any different than requiring a certain non-conference strength of schedule to be eligible for an at-large bid?

Bilas has good intentions here. The goal is to make the regular season in college hoops more meaningful, and it is inarguable that better hoops in November and December is a good thing for the sport.

Well, here’s an idea: let’s find a way to get non-conference rivalries that people care about to take place. (Looking at you, Kansas-Missouri.) Or maybe we can find a way to convince non-traditional programs to play games that people outside of Rupp Arena will care about. Keeping out marquee matchups should take priority to kicking out the smaller programs.

And hey, if Bilas really wants to make the regular season matter, he might want to take a look at the College Hoops Champions League.

Jay Bilas is much, much smarter than me.

He should be able to come up with a better idea for improving college basketball than this.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Elite Class of 2020 point guard to reclassify

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Nico Mannion, a five-star point guard from Arizona, announced on Friday that he will be reclassifying into the Class of 2019.

Mannion was a top 20 player in 2020 but, according to 247 Sports, he will be ranked No. 11 in 2019. The athletic, 6-foot-3 Mannion was long-rumored to be considering a move up a class because of his age. He’ll turn 18 in March of next year, meaning that he’ll arrive on campus the same age as a typical college freshman.

Mannion cut his list to ten schools in June — Duke, Arizona, Villanova, Kansas, USC, UCLA, Oregon, Vanderbilt, Marquette and Utah — but Duke and Arizona appear to be the favorites at this point.

Mannion plays his high school ball for Pinnacle High School in Phoenix and with West Coast Elite on the Under Armour Association circuit. He played for Team USA’s youth ranks, but his mother is Italian and, in June, he was called up to the Italian men’s senior national team, scoring nine points in 29 minutes of a FIBA World Cup Qualifier.

Nebraska to lose junior big man to transfer

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Nebraska’s frontcourt depth took a blow on Thursday as junior big man Jordy Tshimanga informed the program that he will be transferring.

“Jordy called me tonight and asked for his release,” head coach Tim Miles said in a statement that was given to the Lincoln Journal-Star. “The University of Nebraska and our program wish Jordy and his family the best.”

Tshimanga averaged 4.0 points and 4.6 boards in 13 minutes this past season, and a source close to the program told NBC Sports he wasn’t expected to play much more than that this season.

Miles’ has spent the better part of the last two seasons on the hot seat, and this certainly doesn’t make his job easier, but with the talent the Cornhuskers have on their roster, they look like an NCAA tournament team already. They bring back their top four scorers, including former five-star prospect Isaac Copeland and potential first-team all-Big Ten wing James Palmer. With or without Tshimanga, Nebraska has a shot to finish top four in the Big Ten.

North Carolina, UCLA, Michigan State part of Las Vegas event

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LAS VEGAS (AP) — North Carolina, UCLA, Michigan State and Texas will play in an early season basketball tournament in Las Vegas.

The Las Vegas Invitational will include games at campus sites, then the final two rounds on Nov. 22-23 in Las Vegas. North Carolina takes on Texas in one semifinal, and Michigan State faces UCLA in the other.

UNC, UCLA and Michigan State are all top 20 teams in the NBC Sports preseason top 25.

The championship is Nov. 23, and the semifinal losers also play each other that day.

NCAA to study possible effects of widespread legal wagering

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The NCAA plans to study how the expansion of legalized betting could affect college athletics and member schools.

The NCAA announced Thursday it will create a working group of “subject matter experts” to assess areas such as officiating, NCAA rules, federal and state laws, and the use of integrity services. NCAA leadership has already called for federal regulation on sports betting. NCAA rules prohibit sports wagering by athletes and athletic department employees.

The Supreme Court opened the door for states to have legal wagering on sporting events when it struck down a federal ban in May. Schools in some states such as West Virginia, Mississippi and New Jersey are already exploring the possibility of collecting integrity fees in anticipation of legal sports books opening in their states.

“While we certainly respect the Supreme Court’s decision, our position on sports wagering remains,” said Donald Remy, NCAA chief legal officer. “With this new landscape, we must evolve and expand our long-standing efforts to protect both the integrity of competitions and the well-being of student-athletes.”

The NCAA Board of Governors has already suspended the association’s ban on holding championships in states with legalized sports betting, a policy that only affected Nevada.

“Legalized sports gambling across the country is rather new, but the NCAA and its members have committed significant resources over the years to policy, research and education around sports wagering,” said Joni Comstock, senior vice president of championships and alliances. “With student-athlete well-being as the centerpiece, we will continue to build upon these efforts to assist members as they adapt to legalized sports wagering in their states and regions.”

Arizona releases non-conference schedule

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A trip to Maui, a home date against Baylor and trips to UConn and Alabama highlight Arizona’s non-conference schedule, which the school released Thursday, this season.

Despite losing nearly the entirety of last year’s talented-but-troubled group, Sean Miller still scheduled aggressively. The first test will come the week of Thanksgiving in Hawaii at the Maui Invitational. It’s an extremely competitive field with Duke, Auburn, Gonzaga, Iowa State, Illinois, San Diego State and Xavier. The bracket for the event has yet to be released.

The Wildcats travel to Storrs to face UConn in Dan Hurley’s first season on Dec. 2, and then a week later visit Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

The marquee home game will be Saturday, Dec. 16, when Scott Drew and Baylor come to Tucson.

Here’s the full schedule:

Day Date Opponent Location

Sunday Nov. 11 Cal Poly Tucson, Ariz.

Wednesday Nov. 14 UTEP Tucson, Ariz.

Monday Nov. 19 vs. TBA Lahaina, Hawai’i

Tuesday Nov. 20 vs. TBA Lahaina, Hawai’i

Wednesday Nov. 21 vs. TBA Lahaina, Hawai’i

Wednesday Nov. 28 Texas Southern Tucson, Ariz.

Sunday Dec. 2 at UConn Hartford, Conn.

Thursday Dec. 6 Utah Valley Tucson, Ariz.

Sunday Dec. 9 at Alabama Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Saturday Dec. 15 Baylor Tucson, Ariz.

Wednesday Dec. 19 Montana Tucson, Ariz.

Saturday Dec. 22 UC Davis Tucson, Ariz.