There are things besides basketball going on that are quite important to the Chicago college basketball sports scene. Here is my take on three of those issues.
1) Big Ten Expansion
The Chicago Tribune's Teddy Greenstein has some very interesting information about Big Ten expansion in today's paper. You can also read it on the Web here.
The quick summary: The Big Ten stands to make money if they add a 12th team according to advisers at William Blair & Company. The names that Greenstein proposes are Missouri, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Rutgers. Interestingly enough. Four of those teams bring monster basketball teams with them to the Big Ten. One doesn't. From Greenstein's report it appears that Rutgers might be the favorite though.
This would obviously be a boost for Big Ten football, it would give the Big Ten Network a reason to be in New York City. It would hurt the overall quality of the basketball schedule. If you had two 6-team divisions in basketball you'd probably have to do something like home and away for divisions, one game against everyone else. While this would technically free up the Big Ten to play two more non-conference games in basketball, it could also impact NCAA Tournament hopes.
Take for instance this season as an example of what an unbalanced schedule can do. Northwestern only got one shot at both Purdue and Ohio State. The Wildcats made the best of their opportunity at home against the Boilermakers, but they were completely outclassed by Evan Turner and company on the road. The Wildcats never got another chance. If you have divisions then it would happen even more often. This is troubling.
All that said. I understand that in the world of college athletics football is king and everything else takes a back seat to the continuation of excellence on the gridiron. Personally, I'd vote for Missouri. (I also think Jim Boeheim would finally decide it was time to retire if the Orange got serious about moving to the Big Ten.)
2) DePaul's new coach will have to hang onto the current assistants
This interest tidbit comes from FOX's Jeff Goodman. Goodman is one heck of college basketball reporter, so I'm assuming he's going off of more than a message board rumor when he says he has sources. This Tweet seems to suggest than Jean Lenti Ponsetto and crew are going about this the completely wrong way.
Now, Tracy Webster, David Booth, Billy Garrett, Tom Kleinschmidt and Barron Thelman have done an admirable job since Jerry Wainwright was fired. They have worked hard to bring a little success to a terrible situation. All of that hard service doesn't mean that a new coach should be saddled with these coaches.
The sad undertone of this move would seem to be money. (Update: At least one person whose opinion about DePaul I respect doesn't think this is the case.) Yes, DePaul let Wainwright go, but they can't afford to let all of his assistants go? If this is more than just an internet rumor than it is a real head scratcher. You have to give the new revolutionary complete control.
3) The Loyola fans are #1
The Rambler Rowdies were named the top student section in the Horizon League on Tuesday. It was quite convenient that the judging panel came to the game against Butler. That was the most attended game by far. Now, I don't have first hand experience with many of the Horizon League student sections, but I've seen UIC and Milwaukee. (The Panthers are thinking about moving back to campus. Which seems like a good decision.) Loyola definitely has them beat on a regular basis. But I've seen what Hinkle Fieldhouse looks like on a game-to-game basis on television. I'm surprised Loyola was bestowed with this. The students should be proud.
It is unfortunate though that the Rambler Rowdies have no more games remaining this season in which to proudly display their trophy. Loyola will try and extend its season on the road at Cleveland State tonight. Follow the Horizon League Network's coverage and live-blog tonight.