conference

Conferences giving out awesome free stuff to players during league tournaments

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There are thrills of March that happen on the court. The barrage of buzzer beaters we’ve seen in conference tournaments adds to the drama of upsets and underdogs snagging automatic bids to the NCAA tournament. But what we don’t always see is the fun that goes on off the court, when players receive gifts for participating in league tournaments.

Sports Business Journal broke down some of the best gear, gadgets, and accessories that will be handed out by conferences this tournament season as part of its annual “Christmas in March”-like tradition. The price of the gifts can vary by conference and the Big Dance gets in on the action, too. This year’s NCAA tournament will be giving out items that together are valued at $320,000, the report says. Among those are watches, rings, and electronics, but the best stuff is at the conference level.

Take, for example, what the SEC is offering. According to SBJ, players get an online gift suite, which allows them to choose one item from what seems like a catalog of things, including high-end headphones, sunglasses, luggage, Blu-ray players, speaker systems, and tablet computers. The Pac-12 is providing iPads with a branded conference cover. The Mountain West has gone high-major with an online suite that rivals the SEC.

The mid-majors tend to be focused more on gear, with the Horizon League handing out performance zip pullovers, the MAAC going with the classic backpack, and the Southland providing a branded duffle bag.

But that brings us to the Big Ten. For as exciting a conference as the league was this season, its gift package is, well, underwhelming. The league will provide a “blanket, ear buds and a tumbler,” according to SBJ, perhaps leaving some players wishing they had committed to a school further south.

It’s all in good fun, of course, joking around about the gifts certain conferences will be giving. All I know is this: no Pac-12 player will have a problem streaming March Madness games on the go, considering that new iPad they’ll have to carry around.

To check out the entire listing, click here.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Big East releases conference schedule

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The Big East, now led by new commissioner Mike Aresco, announced its conference schedule Wednesday.

“BIG EAST men’s basketball and unparalleled national media exposure have always been synonymous,” Aresco said in a statement. “The 2012-13 schedule is unmatched in the scope of national, regional and local telecasts.  Our coaches and student-athletes are committed to excellence at the highest level.  I know the upcoming season will be filled with outstanding and exciting play.”

For the conference, the season kicks off on New Year’s Eve, Dec. 31, 2012, with Cincinnati traveling to Pittsburgh at noon.

Marquette hosts Connecticut to follow up on New Year’s Day at 8 p.m.

Louisville, who will likely be among the favorites to win the conference with Peyton Siva, Chane Behanan, and Gorgui Dieng returning, begins its conference slate hosting Providence on Jan. 2.

This upcoming season marks the final for Pittsburgh and Syracuse in the Big East before they move to the ACC for the 2013-14 season.

On Feb. 2, the Orange travel to Pittsburgh for a noon tip-off. Syracuse looks to reload after losing Fab Melo, Dion Waiters, Kris Joseph, and Scoop Jardine, while Pittsburgh welcomes two impact freshmen in James Robinson and Steven Adams.

To view the rest of the schedule released Wednesday, click here.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_