College basketball powers Kansas University, Kentucky, Duke and Michigan State will participate in ESPN’s Champions Classic over the next three seasons, the network announced on Wednesday.
The Classic will involve one-day doubleheaders. The early November games all will be televised on ESPN.
KU will meet Kentucky on Nov. 15, 2011, in New York’s Madison Square Garden and Michigan State will play Duke.
KU will play Michigan State on Nov. 13, 2012, at Atlanta’s Georgia Dome, while Duke will play Kentucky. Then, on Nov. 12, 2013, KU will play Duke and Kentucky will tangle with MSU at Chicago’s United Center.
“I thought it was a great idea and I think it’s great playing at neutral sites,” KU coach Bill Self said Wednesday. “To come back to Madison Square Garden (next season) will be great with three other unbelievable programs. I’ll bet each of these programs will sell whatever ticket allotment they have — 4,000 to 5,000.”
KU will face a challenging November 2011. The Jayhawks will also compete in the Maui Invitational (Nov. 21-23) in a field with Duke, Georgetown, Memphis, Michigan, Tennessee, UCLA as well as host Chaminade.
“It’s pretty cool. A lot of people think it’s really cool. As a coach you are saying, ‘So we play Kentucky, then we fly and play the best Maui field ever, and who is our team going to be next year?’’’ Self said on Wednesday’s Hawk Talk radio show.
“That’s what you think about because you don’t really know. There are so many uncertainties (with next year’s team).”
KU loses seniors Tyrel Reed, Brady Morningstar and Mario Little with the possibility of losing additional players to the NBA draft.
“We’re excited to be a part of that (three-year event). The winningest program (in college basketball history) is Kentucky by 18 or 20 victories. We may be second now. It’s back and forth with us and Carolina,” Self said. “Of course, Duke is next and then Michigan State is right there, too. It’ll be a great doubleheader in great venues.”
Kentucky entered Wednesday’s action with a nation’s best 2,028 victories, followed by KU (2,011), North Carolina (2,009) and Duke (1,920).
“I’m ecstatic about it because for our program it’s probably bigger than all the others,” Michigan State’s Tom Izzo told ESPN’s Andy Katz. “We’re maybe the team that has come on in the last 10 years while the others have been there for 50. It’s an honor and a privilege. It really will bring a lot of attention for basketball.”
Self on Tuesday’s 81-68 Jimmy V. Classic victory over Memphis: “Our guys played hard. Our guys played excited, wild, undisciplined and at times very, very well. It’s a combination of a lot of things, another great teaching tape for us.”
Young coach quits: Urban Meyer resigned as Florida football coach on Wednesday at the age of 46. He’s led the Gators to a pair of national titles.
“His rise was meteoric,” Self said. “He was at Utah doing great things there. He goes to Florida with pressure, life in the fast lane 365 days a year. It takes a toll on you. He probably has his priorities together such as, ‘Life is too short.’ He probably wanted to do things closest to his heart, his family. I anticipate him coming back into coaching (some day). In order to stay good at what you do,” Self added, “you have to have as much energy as a young, hungry guy trying to beat your butt.”
More on the tie: Self was asked on his radio show about wearing the same tie Tuesday versus Memphis as he did in the 2008 national title game versus the Tigers:
“I’m superstitious, but I didn’t wear it for luck,” Self said. “I had a navy suit. I called my wife in and asked her which tie looks best? She said, ‘That one there.’ I took it. She said, ‘You know you’ll get a lot of questions about that. That’s the one you wore in ’08.’ I did know after she told me. I wore it because I thought it matched my suit the best.”