7 things to know about the start of college basketball season

Published: Friday, November 10, 2017 @ 12:06 PM

Amazing drone view of UD Arena interior renovation

The four-month journey to March Madness begins this weekend across the country. 

Here are seven things to know about the start of college basketball season! 

1. It’s a new era for Dayton Flyers basketball. 

Anthony Grant’s first real game as the head coach at his alma mater is tonight when Ball State comes to UD Arena, which will also have a new look

The Flyers will have a much different starting lineup and perhaps a new style of play. They were picked fifth in the Atlantic 10 and begin the season 103rd in the KenPom.com rankings after finishing 39th last year. 

2. Wright State is building on last year but with a different cast, too. 

Dayton native Mark Alstork transferred to Illinois after leading the Raiders in scoring during Scott Nagy’s first season as coach. 

WSU (201 in KenPom) will start the season at Loyola a bit short-handed, but there’s reason for fans to hope Nagy’s team can get hot down the stretch. 

READ MORE: Wright State preview

If the Raiders are playing their best basketball in late February, they could be dangerous in the Horizon League tournament. 

Oakland is the preseason HL favorite with Wright State picked fifth. 

3. Ohio State is starting over, too. 

Chris Holtmann is the head coach of the Buckeyes, replacing Thad Matta after 13 seasons. 

Holtmann inherited an interesting if flawed group that could finish in the top half of the Big Ten if a few things break right or near the bottom of the standings if they don’t. 

The Buckeyes begin the season 79th in KenPom after finishing 73rd last season. They are 12th in the Land of 10 preseason power poll and host Robert Morris tonight. 

4. Miami University has two new coaches. 

Dayton native Meg Duffy is a first-time head coach charged with reviving the Miami women’s basketball team. Her 12 letter-winners returning include Lauren Dickerson, the reigning MAC Freshman of the Year, and the team was picked to finish fourth in the MAC East

Jack Owens is the new man in charge of the men’s squad, which has eight newcomers and was picked to finish last in the MAC East

KenPom’s 294th-ranked team opens the season at Fordham. The RedHawks host Wright State on Tuesday night. 

5. Down south, it could be another big year. 

Cincinnati opens the year 11th in the KenPom rankings while Xavier is No. 26. 

The Bearcats are 12th in the preseason AP poll while the Musketeers are 17th. 

UC returns the top three scorers (Jacob Evans, Kyle Washington and Gary Clark) from a 30-win team and has not been this high in the preseason polls since opening No. 2 in 1999. 

Trevon Blueitt and J.P. Macura headline Xavier’s squad while 

6. Keep an eye on Vincent Edwards. 

Last year, the local product making national headlines was Franklin grad Luke Kennard. Since he left Duke for the NBA draft, who will it be this year? 

Vincent Edwards from Middletown is a good bet. The 6-foot-8 Purdue forward is on the Naismith Award watch list and according to his school is the only active player in the country with 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 300 assists. He was a third-team All-Big Ten pick last season.  

7. Familiar faces fill the preseason rankings. 

Duke is No. 1 in both major polls after bringing in No. 1 recruit Marvin Bagley III. 

Michigan State is next followed by Arizona (a school caught up in the FBI’s investigation of illegal recruiting practices), Kansas and Kentucky. 

Wichita State, the team that knocked Dayton out of the NCAA tournament last season and a newcomer to the American Athletic Conference, is No. 7, while Bob Huggins’ latest West Virginia team is No. 11. 

Chip Kelly news continues buzzing as his decision nears

Published: Thursday, November 23, 2017 @ 6:18 AM

Chip Kelly-Florida

Florida Gators football is the No. 1 topic in Good Morning, Gators every day — but we cover news, notes and analysis from across the Gators sports world. Join us each morning to get caught up on everything you missed in the world of Florida football, recruiting, basketball and more.

The latest on coaching search front

A lot of news surrounding Chip Kelly and his potential decision circulated on Wednesday. Here are the highlights:

MORE: Click here to sign up for the Good Morning, Gators newsletter!

In other Florida football news

Men’s basketball begins tournament play in Oregon

The No. 7 Florida men’s basketball team begins its three-game stretch in the Phil Knight Invitational in Portland, Ore., on Thursday by facing Stanford. Tip-off is set for 10 p.m. ET.

Volleyball inches closer to SEC title

The No. 3 Gators volleyball team defeated Auburn, 3-1, on Wednesday in its regular-season home finale. With a 24-1 record (16-1 in SEC play), Florida will clinch at least a share of the SEC title with a win on Saturday against Missouri.

Prior to the match, meanwhile, the Gators earned a bevy of SEC honors, highlighted by senior middle blocker Rhamat Alhassan being named the SEC Player of the Year and Mary Wise being named the co-Coach of the Year. Five Gators were named All-SEC.

Women’s basketball falls to Stetson

After opening the Savannah Invitational with a win against Richmond, the Gators women’s basketball team lost 85-71 to Stetson in the second of three games on Wednesday. The Gators were without leading scorer Funda Nakkasoglu, who suffered an ankle injury late in the win against Richmond on Tuesday.

Let’s keep talking

Want to keep the conversation going? Hop over to our free Florida message board. Sign up now and join the discussion here.

What they’re saying on Twitter

Quarterback Luke Del Rio:

Offensive lineman Brett Heggie:

Wide receiver Freddie Swain:

Miss a previous edition of Good Morning, Gators? Get caught up here.

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Comparing the Palmetto Bowl to Iron Bowl; plus, South Carolina-Clemson memories

Published: Thursday, November 23, 2017 @ 6:18 AM

South Carolina football

Welcome to SEC Country’s Chicken & Waffles, your daily dish for all things South Carolina Gamecocks football, basketball and more. Miss a previous edition? Find every edition of SEC Country’s South Carolina Gamecocks Chicken & Waffles right here.

Something we can all agree on

If there’s one thing South Carolina coach Will Muschamp can agree on with Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, it’s the intensity of the Palmetto Bowl rivalry.

When asked how the South Carolina-Clemson game compared to the Iron Bowl between Auburn and Alabama, Swinney said there was “zero difference in this state” and that “it’s just different logos.”

“Absolutely. There’s no question,” Muschamp said when asked for his thoughts on Swinney’s comments. “We don’t have any pro teams in our states. There’s a lot of similarities.”

Muschamp’s Gamecocks are hoping to break a three-game losing streak to the Tigers on Saturday night at Williams-Brice Stadium. Clemson is a 14-point favorite.

Palmetto Bowl memories

Having attended several South Carolina-Clemson games as a fan and reporter, SEC Country’s Hale McGranahan has plenty of fond memories from the annual matchup.

McGranahan’s recounting of the Gamecocks’ 27-17 win in 2012, featuring an unlikely hero in South Carolina backup quarterback Dylan Thompson, is especially sweet.

“How about 2012? That’s when [Connor] Shaw was forced to sit because of an injury,” he wrote. “Clemson was supposed to have no trouble beating a team led by Thompson. Well, he one-upped Shaw with 310 yards and 3 touchdowns through the air, to go along with a 20-yard run to convert a third-and-19.”

Off-the-field adversaries

As in-state rivals, South Carolina and Clemson often compete on the recruiting trail as well. The 2017 Palmetto Bowl is littered on both sides with players who once considered both schools.

The battle for South Carolina’s leading wide receiver, sophomore Bryan Edwards, was one of the state’s most recent intriguing recruiting tales.

“Clemson came roaring out of the gates as the team to beat for Bryan Edwards, thanks in part to some family connections,” McGranahan wrote. “But the decision to slow play him allowed South Carolina to swoop in and land a commitment. The Tigers came in during his senior season and pushed for him as a safety, but Edwards opted to stick with his original plan and recommitted to play wide receiver for the Gamecocks.”

Edwards has 53 catches for 635 yards and 3 touchdowns this season.

Guests of honor

South Carolina is expecting a number of unofficial visitors this weekend for the Clemson game.

The list is highlighted by a pair of 2018 defensive linemen: defensive tackle Rick Sandidge and junior college DE Dorian Gerald.

Sandidge is rated as the No. 129 overall prospect in the Class of 2018, according to the 247Sports composite. Gerald is the No. 11 overall JUCO prospect.

Taking it all in

After taking an official visit to Columbia earlier this season, 3-star defensive end and Louisville commit Jarrett Jackson is planning to thoroughly evaluate all of his options before updating his recruiting status.

“I’m just trying to take this whole thing slow and think about everything,” Jackson told SportsTalk’s Phil Kornblut. “Trying to enjoy it, but at this point and time, it gets stressful with everyone calling and texting.”

The Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., native is rated as the No. 43 strongside defensive end in the Class of 2018, per the 247Sports composite.

Joining forces

Former South Carolina star and current Houston Texans WR Bruce Ellington welcomed a new teammate on Wednesday when the Texans claimed his cousin and former Clemson running back Andre Ellington.

The Texans hilariously observed the Ellington reunion with a Step Brothers callback.

The big reveal

The Gamecocks revealed their uniform combination for the Clemson game on Wednesday. Oh c’mon! You’re in the shot!

Thanksgiving throwback

Speaking of Clemson’s Ellington, who could forget South Carolina safety D.J. Swearinger’s hit and flex on the Tigers running back in 2012?

The Gamecocks could use some of Swearinger’s “swag,” if they’re to upset the No. 3-ranked Tigers on Saturday.


Craving more Chicken & Waffles? Get your fix with previous versions here.

The post Comparing the Palmetto Bowl to Iron Bowl; plus, South Carolina-Clemson memories appeared first on SEC Country.

Arkansas basketball vs. Oklahoma: Preview, how to watch, TV (November 23, 2017)

Published: Thursday, November 23, 2017 @ 6:18 AM

arkansas-arkansas basketball-anton beard

Now, we’ll see if Arkansas can run with the big dogs of college basketball.

The Razorbacks are set for the most prestigious early season tournament in hoops starting Thanksgiving afternoon. Arkansas will play Oklahoma as part of the PK80 Invitational in Portland, Ore. Tip-off is perfect for the holiday, a 4 p.m. start in the Natural State.

Arkansas has made waves locally by looking sharp in three games. Coach Mike Anderson’s team stomped Samford and Bucknell, then put away Fresno State last week. Now, though, Arkansas gets fellow Power 5 foes, perhaps all week.

Oklahoma is in a similar boat as the Razorbacks. The Sooners were not good last season, at all. But a dynamite recruiting class, including freshman Trae Young, has Oklahoma in most prognosticators’ early season NCAA Tournament projections. Arkansas, on the other hand, is mostly on the outside of those.

Arkansas will counter Young and the Sooners with their own talented backcourt. Daryl Macon and Jaylen Barford lead the team in scoring and pulled their names out of the NBA draft late last spring for a final shot at a deep tourney run.

If Arkansas wins, a matchup with North Carolina almost assuredly awaits. The Tar Heels, the defending national champs, knocked the Razorbacks out of the Big Dance last season.

Arkansas-Oklahoma basketball: Game info, details

  • Time: Tip-off is at 5 p.m. ET (4 CT) on Thursday, Nov. 23
  • Location: Moda Center, Portland, Ore.

How can I watch the game?

The game can be seen on ESPN2.

How can I live stream the game?

The game can be seen on the WatchESPN app. (Cable or satellite subscription required.)

How can I listen to the game?

The game will air on the Razorbacks Sports Network. Check local listings.

How can I get live stats for the game?

Live stats for the game can be found here.

What’s next for Arkansas?

If Arkansas beats Oklahoma, the Hogs get the winner of North Carolina and Portland. If Arkansas loses, the Hogs get the loser of that game. Either way, next game is Friday.

The post Arkansas basketball vs. Oklahoma: Preview, how to watch, TV (November 23, 2017) appeared first on SEC Country.

Moronic, wasteful and shortsighted for Arkansas to continue playing in Little Rock

Published: Thursday, November 23, 2017 @ 6:18 AM

Arkansas-Arkansas football

Arkansas football rules the world of Razorbacks sports. So, with your bacon, have some Hogs for Breakfast and get caught up. It’s SEC Country’s weekday column and roundup on all things Arkansas … especially Arkansas football. Opinion, numbers, inane babble and more! And now with ironic exclamation points! There is no place like it on the web.

What a massive waste of time, money and advantage.

Arkansas announced Wednesday that the 2018 game at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock, an annual tradition nowadays, will be played against Ole Miss.

War Memorial was going to receive an SEC game, no matter what, but most people thought it would be Vanderbilt. Little Rock has, in the last three seasons, received “lesser” opponents. A lot of that has to do with Arkansas, the team, completely playing like garbage against any program with a pulse.

More than anything, though, what Wednesday signaled to me was Arkansas brass isn’t going to give up the Little Rock games anytime soon. Technically, under the current contract, the 2018 game is the last one required. Former athletic director Jeff Long never said outright he was not going to renew the deal, thereby making every Arkansas “home” game played in Fayetteville, but he strongly suggested it.

Those outside an hour’s drive to Fayetteville despised him for it. It was one of those things they claimed was “ignoring tradition.” Whatever.

How about it being a stupid tradition? Arkansas is the only school that plays a home game, every season, guaranteed, away from its actual home. This isn’t like UConn (located in Storrs, Conn.), which plays its home games in East Hartford. UConn and the state have a lease agreement that means *all* the Huskies’ home games are played in East Hartford.

Coach Bret Bielema and his staff treat the game like a road game, which is smart, because ultimately it is. They have to fly to the thing. Playing an opponent that’s any good, just so fans in McGehee or Forrest City or wherever can see the Hogs, well, it’s a terrible idea. Besides, War Memorial doesn’t sell out those games, anyway, and it’s a tiny stadium.

Make no mistake, folks, Arkansas is going back to the old days and that right soon.

Arkansas is a family

That’s a big reason I think those games are going to stay in Little Rock. The Razorbacks are the state’s team. People in Hazen and Fountain Lake and McCrory feel just as strong a bond to their Hogs as the people in and around Washington and Benton counties.

The connection folks in the Natural State feel to the Razorbacks is unlike anything anywhere else in the country. The movers and shakers, the powers that be, they want to keep that. Long, to some of them, was threatening those old ways.

For better and worse, families stick together.

Austin Allen deserves better than your hatred for him

The man is a great quarterback. He seems to be a decent human being. Austin Allen being the starting quarterback at Arkansas has zero to do with his father or his brother. Anyone who thinks Bielema rode the Allens-as-quarterbacks train for five seasons because of some loyalty, you’re kidding yourself.

Allen gave his blood, quite literally, for this team. He gave his brain. Heck, he probably sacrificed an NFL career for the Razorbacks. Yet, every time I look up, the masses are hating on him.

It’s a real shame. Personally speaking, no one I’ll miss in that locker room more than Allen.

Good luck, dude.


  • Video was released of Cole Kelley’s arrest for suspicion of driving while intoxicated. He hopped the curb, for sure.
  • Trent Shadid and I talk about the entire tenure of Bielema at Arkansas and how Allen and Bielema will be remembered. That’s this week’s Sound Off.
  • I am picking Arkansas to beat Missouri this weekend. Do I really think that’s going to happen? Eh, 50/50. But I picked the Hogs 5-7 in April and August and have been batting 1.000 so far. Arkansas beating Mizzou means a clean sweep.
  • Rough news for former Arkansas guard Patrick Beverley. The All-NBA defender is out for the rest of the season with a knee injury.
  • Hogs basketball starts its three-game tournament at the PK80 on Thanksgiving afternoon. Arkansas opens with Oklahoma. Watch for the Bill Walton announcing, if for no other reason.

Tweets and the like

• Um, look, Jimmy Dykes, I know things didn’t work out for you as Arkansas women’s basketball coach, but if you think no one in the media is talking about how good Jaylen Barford and Daryl Macon are, you aren’t paying any attention.

• Two of the best Arkansas basketball wings in the post Nolan Richardson era here.

• More than anything this season for Arkansas defensively, this has been the problem. No pass rush means offenses don’t have to worry about anything else.

Skip Breakfast? C’mon. It’s too important. Catch up with previous versions here.

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