-Get ready for another play-in game. Starting in 2009-10, the Great West Conference will begin basketball operations. Originally established as a transitional league for football teams going from DII to DI-AA, it has risen to fourth of fourteen conferences in the Football Championship Division (or whatever I-AA is called now). The six teams (North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah Valley, Texas Pan-American, Utah Valley, and Houston Baptist) will all be eligible for post-season play, but the conference will not receive an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament until 2020. Kyle Whelliston explains:
Texas-Pan American has never been to the NCAA tournament, but it's been an able qualifier since the 1970s. Fellow non-football school Houston Baptist is returning to Division I after a long finance-related absence (the Huskies made the 52-team field in 1984) and stands to become postseason-eligible again by 2014-15. NJIT and Utah Valley will have completed their transitions once conference play begins in 2009-10. NCAA men's basketball rules require conferences to pass a three-step eligibility check for auto-bid qualification: at least seven fully fledged Div. I members, seven that have been Div. I for at least eight years (known as "core members"), and six core members who have been league mates for five years. The current membership wouldn't meet all of those guidelines until the year 2020.Personally, I hate the play-in game. One of the perks of winning a low-major conference tournament is the opportunity to play a team like North Carolina, in front of a huge crowd and on national television, with the chance to write your name in the history books. But there is no way that the NCAA will ever reduce the number (34) of at-large bids, especially with the number or high-major coaches that are pushing for MORE at-large bids as it is. This means that by adding another auto-bid conference, there will be another play-in game, and thus another low-major conference tourney winner (the play-in game loser) that doesn't get a chance to play in the real NCAA tournament on Thursday/Friday like the rest of the country. Here is Rush The Court's take on it.
-Gary Parrish got in touch with the guys from Scout.com to discuss where they think the top 6 unsigned recruits in the class of 2009 will end up. If they are right, then Memphis is going to be scary good in 2009-10. Along those same lines, Jason Jordan catches up with John Wall.
-Luke Winn takes a stab at who he thinks will be this year's breakout star, a la Luke Harangody, based on offensive effiiciency statistics.
-I know I'm overloading it with lists today, but Dana O'Neil tells us what players coming off of injuries will make an impact this season.
-Jamie Dixon gets a contract extension through the 2015-16 season.
-Another UConn player is arrested. Freshman Nate Miles, who bounced around high schools and as a result has faced many (mainly academic) issues with his eligibility and enrollment at UConn, has been arrested after violating a restraining order. Apparently, he was served with the restraining order at 8 pm, and placed a call violating the order not 16 minutes later. At least he's not stealing lap tops...