2014-15 scheduling

Villanova will now play Illinois in December’s Jimmy V Classic

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Just over a month after it was announced that Indiana/Louisville and Maryland/Villanova would be the match ups in next season’s Jimmy V Classic, there’s been a scheduling change.

While the matchup between the Hoosiers and Cardinals remains as is, Villanova will now play Illinois in the event on Tuesday, December 9 according to the Champaign News-Gazette. Maryland will play in the 2016 edition of the event. Interestingly enough the last time Illinois played at Madison Square Garden was in 2010, as they beat Maryland in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic.

Illinois finished the 2013-14 season with a 20-15 record, falling to Clemson in the second round of the Postseason NIT. John Groce’s Fighting Illini return their top two scorers from that team in guards Rayvonte Rice (15.9 ppg, 6.0 rpg) and Tracy Abrams (10.7, 3.5, 3.2), but they’ll be inexperienced in the front court with Nnanna Egwu being the most experienced returnee.

Villanova returns four of its top five scorers from a team that finished the 2013-14 season with a 29-5 record and won the Big East regular season title. Jay Wright’s Wildcats were eliminated from the NCAA tournament by eventual national champion UConn in the Round of 32.

h/t VU Hoops

American Athletic Conference announces 2014-15 conference schedule pairings

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The first season of play for the American Athletic Conference was a productive one on the basketball court, with UConn winning the national title and three players (Sean Kilpatrick, Shabazz Napier and Russ Smith) earning All-America honors. The question now is what will Mike Aresco’s league do for an encore, with two schools leaving (Louisville and Rutgers) the conference and three (East Carolina, Tulane and Tulsa) arriving.

Wednesday afternoon the American’s basketball programs learned what their path to the conference title will be, with the American releasing its conference schedule pairings. Each team will play eight of its league foes twice, meeting the two leftover conference opponents once (one at home, one on the road).

“We are very pleased with the schedule format we have put together for the 2014-15 season,” Aresco said in the release. “We took into consideration rivalries, marquee match-ups and geographical and travel considerations.”

SEE: CBT’s American Athletic Conference Catchup

In this era of conference play unbalanced schedules have become commonplace, with the schedule potentially having a major impact on which team wins the regular season title. The American made sure with this year’s schedule release that UConn, Cincinnati, Memphis and SMU all play each other two times apiece, which is a good move with those programs expected to be the main contenders for the title.

And if those programs take care of business that should help their resumes from a strength of schedule standpoint, with the conference looking to ensure a solid number of bids (and quality seeds) in the NCAA tournament. Also of note is the fact that the conference tournament title game will move to Sunday (March 15), with this being announced when it was revealed that Hartford would host the 2015 event.

Below are the single meetings for each team on the 2014-15 conference schedule.

UCF: Tulsa (home), UConn (away)
Cincinnati: USF (home), Tulsa (away)
UConn: UCF (home), Houston (away)
East Carolina: Tulane (home), SMU (away)
Houston: UConn (home), Temple (away)
Memphis: Temple (home), USF (away)
USF: Memphis (home), Cincinnati (away)
SMU: East Carolina (home), Tulane (away)
Temple: Houston (home), Memphis (away)
Tulane: SMU (home), East Carolina (away)
Tulsa: Cincinnati (home), UCF (away)

Report: Las Vegas Invitational semifinal matchups set

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After moving away from the true semifinal/final format due to the fact that participants UCLA and Missouri were already due to play a game during the regular season (won by Missouri), the Las Vegas Invitational will return to the traditional format this coming November.

According to a report from Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports, Indiana State will face Illinois in one semifinal with Memphis and Baylor meeting in the other. Those games will be played on November 27, with the championship and third-place games being played November 28.

Each of these four teams will host two non-bracket games as part of the Las Vegas Invitational prior to the semifinal round.

Of the four teams it was Baylor who went furthest in the postseason, reaching the Sweet 16 where they lost to eventual Final Four participant Wisconsin. Memphis won an NCAA tournament game before falling to Virginia in the Round of 32, with Indiana State and Illinois both playing in the Postseason NIT.