Monday's big news happened off the court, as Texas Christian finally agreed to a long-rumored move to the Big East Conference, beginning with the 2012-13 academic year. Of course, this is a move driven by football, as the Horned Frogs will now have a decent shot at an automatic BCS bid each season, but there are significant impacts for other sports, including basketball.
Travel costs will naturally rise, as the schools closest to Fort Worth are outliers in a Northeast-based league. People conveniently forget that conference membership and its assorted costs aren't limited to four football and nine men's basketball (including the conference tournament, unless you're St. John's, Seton Hall or Rutgers) road trips a season.
ESPN's Andy Katz reported Monday morning that the Big East long had plans in place for 17- and 18-team configurations, but that the conference's behemoth of a basketball tournament will need to be re-examined, something that should have happened long ago in this blogger's opinion.
My best guess in terms of scheduling is that the 18-game slate stays, but the number of home-and-home series drops from three to two, something the Sporting News' Mike DeCourcy agrees with in his post on the topic. (And, boy, if you think the bellyaching about the mirrored scheduling choices is bad now, just wait.) This move would further dilute a once-proud tradition, as David Steele writes, making what's happened to the ACC and will soon happen to the Pac-10/12 seem like only a minor change to a long history of fierce rivalries and highly anticipated matchups.
As for the tournament, 16 could work, but it's unlikely only two teams are dropped from the field. Expect the event to drop back to 12 participants, and for TCU to likely among the half dozen to miss every year.
And keep in mind that UCF, Temple, East Carolina, Memphis, or Houston could bring the conference back to an even 18 at some point. (Or Villanova could jump up to FBS, giving the conference 10 football-playing schools in a simpler manner.)
And the Horned Frogs may not be finished either. Jeff Eisenberg over at the Dagger discussed the move with former TCU and Oklahoma coach Billy Tubbs who compared the school's behavior since the Southwest Conference broke up to Zsa Zsa Gabor's many marriages (from 16-team WAC to Conference USA to the Mountain West to the Big East is a lot of bridges burned). The piece closes with Tubbs' warning that the school would quickly jump to the soon to be 10-team Big 12 if such an opportunity arose.
As for the spurned party, the Mountain West, Fanhouse's Jason Chatraw wrote Monday, the conference has in the span of a few short months simply become the WAC by another name. There really won't be many new places and faces for new members Boise State, Fresno State, Nevada, and (likely) Hawai'i to check out. Speculation is rife on our Mountain West Connection blog as to who Craig Thompson will go after to fill the void, but there's not a lot of cachet in names like Utah State, UTEP, SMU, and Houston.
From a football perspective, any new lineup will not possibly compare to what might have been had Utah, BYU, and TCU hung around. But for basketball, adding the Aggies and Miners in particular, could boost a league that will still count three of its strongest teams--New Mexico, San Diego State, and UNLV--among its membership.
After the jump, I'll take a look at Tuesday night's TV schedule, highlighted by the first full night of ACC/Big Ten Challenge action.
ACC/Big Ten Challenge
Last night, Virginia used some hot shooting from the perimeter (10 of 14 from 3) to come back from a 10-point halftime deficit and upset Minnesota, 87-79. That puts the ACC up 1-0 in their quest to take bragging rights back.
EDIT: Let me take this opportunity to invite you to visit our brand new Virginia blog, Streaking the Lawn. Head on over and welcome Brian to SB Nation.
Five of the ten remaining games take place tonight.
- Georgia Tech at Northwestern, ESPN2 (7 p.m. ET): Don't look now, but the Wildcats are 4-0, but this game against the Yellow Jackets will be their biggest test yet. Northwestern, who's improved their defense so far this year, will be seriously tested by Brian Oliver and Iman Shumpert.
- Iowa at Wake Forest, ESPNU (7 p.m. ET): These two are each 3-3 and seem destined to finish at the bottom of their respective leagues. There are other, more entertaining (and impactful) matchups out there.
- Ohio State at Florida State, ESPN (7:30 p.m. ET): The Buckeyes own the best true road win in the country right now, over Florida. A win in Tallahassee would be another to add to their profile. Chris Singleton and company won't make it easy, however.
- Michigan at Clemson, ESPN2 (9 p.m. ET): The Wolverines will look to snap a two-game Atlantic City skid, while the Tigers have just this game and a trip to South Carolina on the slate before opening ACC play at FSU on December 12. In a close matchup like this, Clemson effectiveness at getting to the line (and Michigan's difficulties in this same area) may be the difference.
- North Carolina at Illinois, ESPN (9:30 p.m. ET): This one should be highly interesting, simply because both teams are still trying to find the right mix. The Tar Heels' youth has been an issue early, while the Fighting Illini are trying to best use all of their talent.
The night's other marquee game takes place in Kansas City where Georgetown meets Missouri (ESPNU, 9 p.m. ET). It's a given that one of these unbeatens will leave the Sprint Center with their first loss. The Hoyas have one of the most efficient offenses out there, but they haven't faced a defense like the Tigers'. On the other hand, Mizzou's been prone to slow starts, which could be an issue against a quality opponent.
As for your other television choices tonight, two matchups between neighbors--Cornell at Syracuse and the first of the pair of games pitting UTEP against New Mexico State--stand out.
- Boston University at Kentucky, Big Blue Sports/FS South/ESPN3 (7 p.m. ET)
- Cornell at Syracuse, Big East Network/TWCS/ESPN3 (7 p.m. ET)
- New Hampshire at Connecticut, Big East Network/SNY/MASN/ESPN3 (7:30 p.m. ET)
- UTEP at New Mexico State, AggieVision/FS Arizona/ESPN3 (9 p.m. ET)
- Long Beach State at Washington, FSN Northwest/FCS Pacific (11 p.m. ET)
For more on Tuesday night's games that will be televised regionally, like Mississippi at Miami, Princeton at Lafayette, Middle Tennessee at Tennessee, UT Pan American at Colorado, and Eastern Washington at Gonzaga, visit Matt Sarz's College Sports on TV site. Another good resource is the schedule page at BB State.
Please share your thoughts about today and tonight's action in the comments, after you sign up for a free SB Nation account, of course.