Details of an eight-game showdown between members of the Big East and Atlantic Coast Conference should be worked out within the next six weeks.
The two leagues want to start the series next December with each conference hosting four games. With the expected TV coverage, league officials believe the series will capture national attention.
At this point, pairings and sites are to be determined, but here are possibilities based on team strengths and drawing power:
The Big East would host games in Syracuse and/or the New York City area, either at Madison Square Garden or the Meadowlands. Georgia Tech, with freshman Kenny Anderson, would play Syracuse, and Connecticut would play Maryland in one double-header. In the other, Virginia goes against Seton Hall and Duke takes on St. John's.
The ACC would host games in Charlotte. One double-header would feature Georgetown against North Carolina -- a great matchup if J.R. Reid returns for his senior year -- and Pittsburgh against Clemson. The other, which might be moved to Greensboro, would have Providence against Wake Forest and Villanova against N.C. State.
The ninth Big East team -- Boston College in this scenario -- would sit out next December's series but get in the following season.
All the details except pairings should be worked out in the next few weeks. The pairings probably will wait until the summer to assess recruiting and losses to the NBA draft. Three underclassmen -- Reid, Clemson's Elden Campbell and Syracuse's Derrick Coleman -- may opt to turn pro a year early. TEXAS TURNAROUND: The 8-1 record is only part of the story for Texas in Tom Penders' first season as coach. The Longhorns are averaging 101.6 points and have exceeded the century mark in five of their last six games.
Penders brought to Texas the same guard-oriented, up-tempo style that helped Rhode Island reach the NCAA Round of 16 last March. He inherited a solid team with four returning starters and two transfers who had sat out last season.
The concern was how the team would adjust to a drastic change of style. Former coach Bob Weltlich preferred a patterned offense. The Longhorns were 16-13 last season and averaged only 70.7 points. They reached 100 only once in the last two years.
After three games in the 80s, including an 85-84 loss at Hawaii, the Longhorns have piled up the points. They have averaged 110.2 over the last six games with a high of 119 at Oral Roberts.
All-Southwest Conference guard Travis Mays and Virginia transfer Lance Blanks have benefitted with career highs of 38 and 37 points respectively.
Texas should easily pass the school record for average (83.9 in 1978) and could challenge the league record (98.1 by Houston in 1966). GAELS FORCE: Loyola-Marymount will still get much of the attention, but this year's best team in the West Coast Athletic Conference may be St. Mary's. The Gaels are 8-0, and have won at Montana and at Brigham Young.
St. Mary's -- located in Moraga, Calif., near Berkeley -- returned five starters from last season's 19-9 team that tied for second in the WCAC and gave Loyola its closest scare in a league game. Loyola needed a last-second 3-point goal from Mike Yoest to beat St. Mary's 96-94 last Feb. 25.
The Gaels' lastest victory, 76-56 over Eastern Washington, was the 200th career win for Coach Lynn Nance. Their chance for national notice comes Dec. 27 in a home game against Pac-10 contender Stanford. PICKS OF THE WEEK: Duke gets its ninth straight victory over Wake Forest in the ACC opener Wednesday night. The streak is the second longest among ACC members. The Blue Devils have won 12 in a row against Virginia.
California has never beaten UCLA at Pauley Pavilion in 24 tries. But Bears' Coach Lou Campanelli's two home victories over UCLA in the last three yearsis one more than his four precedessors managed in 25 years. The point? Cal by a point or two at UCLA Wednesday night in the upset of the week. BONUS SHOTS: Hawaii already qualifies as college basketball's most improved team. The Rainbows' 80-61 victory Monday night over Indiana State was the team's fifth, one more than all of last season.
Four overtimes are getting to be a habit at Baylor, which used the extra time to edge North Texas State 96-95 last Saturday. Baylor lost in four OTs last January against SMU.
Lefty Driesell has James Madison at 6-2 after the Dukes routed Radford, which is coached by a former Driesell assistant, Oliver Purnell.
Nothing has changed in the Metro -- the league won its first 22 home games. Last season, Metro teams were 92-16 at home, including 53-6 against non-league opponents.
Georgia's Alec Kessler is more than a good player. The 6-10 junior is consistent in the classroom -- he's had a perfect 4.0 grade-point average in eight of the 10 quarters he's been in school. Kessler is majoring in genetics.