College Basketball News & Notes

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The college basketball season is in full swing, with the first month of play around behind us. Traditionally, we’ve waited until the first of the year to follow the sport as major conference play typically begins after New Year’s Day. Call it a warm up or preseason — most of the contests played in November and December aren’t worth following, but then there are those match ups which make the early season enjoyable.

Big East – SEC Challenge — The ACC – Big Ten Challenge now has some competition as the Big East and SEC square off each year. Beginning next year, all 12 SEC teams will be involved and 12 of 16 Big East teams too. Moreover, instead of having these games at neutral sites, the respective campuses of the competing schools will host these games which will be played the week following Thanksgiving.

Poll Surprises — The season is young, but the polls are getting a lot of attention with some wondering if the Big East can continue placing seven teams among the Top 25. What is more interesting is the rise of San Diego State to the tenth position in the coaches poll and #11 spot in the AP. The Aztecs biggest win was over Gonzaga, 79 to 76 in the second game of the season. They’ll be challenged in the Mountain West with two games each against #18 BYU and #22 UNLV in January and February.

Pitino & Puerto Rico — Louisville head coach Rick Pitino appears likely to be named the head coach of the Puerto Rican National Team. Pitino has been in talks with the team whose inability to qualify for the 2008 Olympics has hit the team hard. Pitino is expected to accept the team’s offer next week and begin preparing the men for the qualifying tournament in 2011. Pitino will remain Louisville’s coach as the Olympic season is in the summer months.

Shamari Spears — After transferring from Boston College, Shamari Spears quickly set up home at UNC Charlotte where he became the 49er’s top scorer this year, his second season in NC. Unfortunately, Spears has had discipline problems and was suspended for the third time in two seasons at the end of November. Spears was dismissed by the team this week.

Once the holiday season is over, we’ll be taking a closer look at this fantastic world of men’s college basketball.

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