By Jon Rothstein
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1. RUTGERS STARTS NEW ERA IN BIG TEN
Rutgers hasn’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 1991, but the Scarlet Knights’ decision to join the Big Ten on Tuesday should greatly enhance their chances of returning to the bracket.
Rutgers will join the conference in 2014, and that should immediately give Scarlet Knights coach Mike Rice significantly more resources than his predecessors. Expect to see announcements within the next six to twelve months in regard to renovations to the RAC, as well as potential plans down the line for a practice facility. The exposure that the Big Ten Network will provide is another invaluable factor in the university’s decision.
Making a jump in the Big East standings was an arduous task for Rutgers, and the Big Ten will present an equally tough challenge, but it’s all about the same thing anywhere in college basketball — getting players.
The Scarlet Knights are now 3-1 this season after an 81-79 win over Boston University on Tuesday night.
2. COOLEY ADDS BIG PIECE IN AUSTIN
Providence coach Ed Cooley finally caught a break.
The second-year Friars coach has been plagued by injuries to start the season, but managed to add another big-time recruit when he received a commitment from Imhotep Charter (Philadelphia) point guard Brandon Austin on Monday. The 6-foot-6 Austin is a consensus Top 75 talent in the Class of 2013 by most recruiting services.
While Providence (3-2) has struggled to start the season, their future remains promising.
With Austin, Kris Dunn, Ricky Ledo and veteran guard Bryce Cotton, the Friars could have one of the Big East’s most talented backcourts during the 2013-14 season.
Ledo is ineligible to play this season after being ruled a partial qualifier by the NCAA, and Cooley said on Tuesday that Dunn is progressing nicely after he suffered a shoulder injury in the preseason. There is still no timetable on his return.
The Friars are also without starting point guard Vincent Council, who is nursing a sore hamstring.
3. BLUE HENS INVADE MSG
Delaware has a chance to make a real statement during the next three days in the Preseason NIT at Madison Square Garden.
The Blue Hens will play Kansas State on Wednesday night and then the winner/loser of Michigan/Pitt on Friday.
With Drexel losing key reserve Chris Fouch for the season with an ankle injury, many CAA coaches privately believe that Delaware is the team that could wind up winning the conference.
Blue Hens coach Monte’ Ross has three of the best players that no one knows about in guards Jarvis Threatt and Devon Saddler, along with a walking double-double in big man Jamelle Hagins.
4. CASSARA RALLIES HOFSTRA
And here come the Pride.
After an 0-2 start which saw Hofstra suffer two double-digit defeats, Pride coach Mo Cassara has rallied his young team to three consecutive victories, including two impressive wins last weekend over NCAA hopefuls South Dakota State and Marshall.
“Considering where we were at the start of last week, it’s an amazing accomplishment,” Cassara said. “We got punched in the mouth a little bit in the first two games, but our kids and our staff has really rallied.”
Hofstra was without Penn State transfer Taran Buie for the first two games of the season due to a suspension, but his return has really augmented this team’s depth.
“He gives us a double-figure threat off the bench,” Cassara said of Buie, who is averaging 11.7 PPG through three outings. “He and Jimmy Hall have made a big difference for us.”
Hall, a 6-foot-7 freshman forward from St. Anthony’s in Jersey City, has been a bit of a revelation, nearly averaging a double-double (12.8 PPG, 9.6 RPG) and giving the Pride an interior presence that they didn’t have last season.
Hofstra takes its 3-2 record on the road Wednesday night to the Bronx, where it will face Manhattan. Manhattan is still searching for its first victory of the young season.
5. ROBINSON, OREGON STATE MOVE ON WITHOUT BRANDT
Oregon State was pegged as one of our PAC-12 sleepers before the season, and now they Beavers will have to move on without their starting center.
Senior Angus Brandt, who appeared to be set for a breakout year, will miss the remainder of the season after suffering a torn ACL in Oregon State’s win over Purdue last Friday at Madison Square Garden. Brandt was averaging 11.3 points and 8.5 rebounds per game and will receive a medical red shirt and return for the 2013-14 season.
Even without his starting center, Beavers coach Craig Robinson is optimistic that his team can still remain competitive in the PAC-12.
“We’ll move some things around, but we’ll be OK,” Robinson told me earlier in the week.
Without Brandt, look for New York native Devon Collier to return to Oregon State’s starting lineup. Collier had been the Beavers’ sixth man throughout the first two weeks of the season, but he will now have to take on a bigger role if this team is to be successful.
During the two games he played last week in New York, Collier averaged an impressive 24 points and 10 rebounds per contest.
All of the Big Ten talk has been centered on football, but how do you think Rutgers basketball will be affected by the realignment? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below…