The starting 5
What will be making headlines in the upcoming college basketball season
Big East’s future
The Big East was created to be a basketball giant and it has been for most of the last 30 years. Now that it has been broken apart by conference realignment, with West Virginia having left for the Big 12, Syracuse and Pittsburgh joining the ACC next season, and Notre Dame going to the ACC in the next few years, the conference has lost its most valuable pieces, just as it negotiates a new rights fee with ESPN and other bidders. That leaves questions about what will happen to longtime basketball-centric schools like Villanova, Georgetown, Seton Hall, St. John’s and Providence, who might look for a cozier conference fit than the four-time-zone league the Big East is forming.
One and done — again?
Kentucky coach John Calipari has created considerable heartburn for athletic administrators because he has embraced and advocated for the one-and-done player. It’s the way the rules are written, Calipari says, and his record-tying six draft picks off last year’s NCAA championship squad prove that he is preparing them for their future in pro basketball. That’s hard for educators to contemplate as they try to tie the school’s educational mission to college basketball. Calipari has another top-ranked bunch of freshmen coming in this season that could take the Wildcats back to the Final Four.
Have hoop, will travel
College basketball continues to find new ways to market its sport, especially in the months of November and December. Michigan State typically is the trendsetter and the Spartans again are on the move, opening the season last week on Ramstein Air Base in Germany against Connecticut, before returning to Atlanta to play against Kansas. And this month, there are not one, but three events being played on aircraft carriers. College hoops in the middle of football season is a tough sell, but give the
promoters of these events credit for trying to capture whatever attention is available.
This season will mark the 75th anniversary of the Final Four, and the NCAA has a season full of initiatives to celebrate. The season will culminate in Atlanta where Divisions I, II and III will play their championship games, marking the first time that each of them has crowned a champion in the same city. That makes the stakes pretty high for the NCAA’s new executive vice president of championships and alliances, Mark Lewis, who took over for Greg Shaheen in April and has been working ever since with partners Turner Sports and CBS to prepare for the NCAA’s historic anniversary.
Home sweet home
|This rendering shows the refurbished Pauley Pavilion on the UCLA campus.
Georgia Tech and UCLA are moving back into their permanent homes on campus. Both schools completed major renovations to their arenas, which required the Yellow Jackets and the Bruins to play in other facilities in their hometown. UCLA spent $136 million with architectural and design firm NBBJ to gut and refurbish Pauley Pavilion’s interior, while also giving its exterior a completely new look. Georgia Tech’s $50 million reconstruction of McCamish Pavilion — in what used to be Alexander Memorial Coliseum — includes new lighting similar to what’s in Madison Square Garden, which will illuminate the court and keep the seats dark. Contractor Whiting-Turner is putting the finishing touches on McCamish, but it’s ready for basketball season with spacious concourses, new LED video boards and rectangular seating that replaces the old oval.