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Aresco: Commissioners support adding marquee bowl

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Aresco: Commissioners support adding marquee bowl

NEW YORK (AP) Big East Commissioner Mike Aresco says support for adding a bowl game to college football's new postseason system has not waned.

Earlier this week, ESPN.com reported the chances of a seventh game being added to the playoff rotation that starts in 2014 had decreased because of various concerns, ranging from the value of the game's television rights to where it will be played.

The original playoff plan had the national semifinals rotating among six major bowl games. Last month, the conference commissioners discussed expanding to the pool to seven games to give better access to the Big East, Mountain West, Conference USA , Sun Belt and Mid-American Conference.

``None of us had heard anything about the game being in any jeopardy,'' Aresco said Friday in an interview with The Associated Press.

The proposed plan for a seventh game calls for the top-rated champion from the Big East and the other four conferences to play either a Pac-12 or a Big 12 team in years when that game is not hosting a semifinal.

Yet tepid interest in the game from possible television partners is a potential stumbling block. How much TV rights would be for such a game is uncertain. Speculation has been anywhere from $20 million per year to about $55 million.

``We're trying to put the game together,'' Aresco said. ``We think there will be significant interest from TV entities, but it's premature. We haven't gone that far.''

Aresco said the goal is to find a permanent home for the game. A site has not been determined but Aresco is confident a good one can be found.

Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said during a radio interview Thursday on the ``Tim Brando Show'' that a decision on adding a seventh game could be six to nine months away.

Aresco spearheaded the push for a seventh game because the Big East stands to benefit most from its addition. The Big East has had an automatic bid to the Bowl Championship Series since it was implemented in 1998. Now that the BCS is going away and the conference is losing some major players, the rebuilt Big East is trying to regain its standing in college football's hierarchy.

What used to be considered the Big Six conferences in major college football - the Big East, along with the Big Ten, Southeastern Conference, Pac-12, Big 12 and Atlantic Coast Conference - is now often being referred to as the Big Five.

Aresco and the Big East have been aggressively battling that perception.

``We know we're a very strong conference and I don't want a narrative like that to take hold,'' he said. ``Because it's just wrong.''

He pointed out that one prominent sports website's most recent conference rankings placed the Big East fifth.

``And I won't mention who we are ahead of,'' he said.

It was the ACC, which has an agreement to send its champion or another highly rated team to the Orange Bowl in the new postseason system.

Both the Big East and ACC have two teams ranked in the latest AP Top 25, though future Big East member Boise State is also in the rankings. The Big East's record against nonconference opponents from the FBS is 14-10 this season. The ACC's is 13-14.

But the Big East is in transition, and it is unclear how its latest incarnation will play out.

Pitt and Syracuse are leaving for the ACC. Boise State and San Diego State will become football only members in the Big East next season. Memphis, Houston, Central Florida and SMU will join in all sports.

The new Big East will span all four time zones, and the quality of its football members could be at the very least on par with what it has been in recent years, before West Virginia left for ther Big 12.

Its long-term viability, however, is uncertain. The Big East has been negotiating with ESPN on a new TV deal, but if a deal is not struck by the end of the month, the conference will be free to negotiate with other networks.

``We've had several networks express interest in Big East product,'' Aresco said. ``I can't speculate on what will happen in the next week or so.''

The conference is hoping to land a long-term contract that will at least be in the ballpark of the multibillion dollar deals the other power conferences have signed in recent years. The ACC's new deal with the ESPN will allow the conference to pay its members about $17 million per year.

Aresco said the Big East also hopes to present a football divisional alignment to its members for approval next month. ``We're leaning, more or less, toward an east-west structure,'' he said. ``It doesn't necessarily have to be entirely east-west. We clearly want the western teams to be playing together.''

Notre Dame, which competes in the Big East for everything but football and hockey, is also set to join the ACC. The school would like to move next year, but Big East bylaws require it wait until 2015.

Aresco and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbick have had preliminary discussion about a deal to let the Fighting Irish go early.

Aresco said the Big East would be interested in guaranteeing future football games for its members against Notre Dame if the Irish have room on their future schedules with five slots already taken by ACC schools.

``That's something we would certainly consider,'' Aresco said. ``If Jack wanted to explore it we would certainly explore it. I don't know how much flexibility they have.''

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Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphdrussoap

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Michigan's Moritz Wagner could be Wizards' solution for a stretch-five

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Michigan's Moritz Wagner could be Wizards' solution for a stretch-five

The pre-draft workout process can be an exhausting journey for players, with so many flights, hotel rooms and NBA arenas that they can all blend in together. Michigan big man Moritz Wagner, though, may have felt a sense of comfort in Washington for his pre-draft workout for the Wizards on Wednesday.

It was just over a year ago that his Michigan Wolverines cut down the nets at Capital One Arena as champions of the Big Ten conference.

"It was good memories, man. Never gets old," he said while glancing around the stadium.

Wagner, 21, will be seeing a lot more of Capital One Arena once he joins the NBA ranks and it is conceivable he ends up in Washington. They hold the 15th pick in the first round and the 44th pick in the second round and Wagner could be within their reach.

Wagner had an impressive workout in Washington and could provide what the Wizards need. He is a big, mobile and can spread the floor. Wagner was terrific at stepping out to hit threes off pick-and-rolls at Michigan and that ability would work well with Wizards All-Star point guard John Wall.

Wagner measured in at just under 7-feet at this month's NBA Combine, fifth-tallest among those who attended. He averaged 14.6 points as a junior this past season and made 39.4 percent of his threes on 4.1 attempts per game.

With three years of college experience and an NBA-ready jumper, Wagner believes he can step right in and help the Wizards.

"I think what we did at Michigan, sharing the ball and playing as a team, very organized basketball, that can help big-time," he said. "It's basically pro basketball I was playing on a different level."

As Wagner will tell you, he is very confident in his abilities. He is comfortable in his own skin and that includes openly discussing his faults. He feels good about his ability to score at the next level. Defense is where he needs to prove himself.

Despite his size, Wagner wasn't much of a rim protector in college. He averaged just a half-block a game as a junior. The Wizards need rim protection badly and he likely would not provide that.

Wagner, though, believes he can bring more to the table defensively than the numbers would suggest.

"I think I've been an offensive guy all of my life, but the more that you mature as a player, you understand that both sides are important. Without defense, you aren't going to play at any level," he said.

"I think the most important thing that I wasn't able to show in college is that I'm able to switch the ball-screen, especially with the way the league is going. Switch on everything and stay in front of guards as a big guy."

Wagner is from Germany and looks up to Mavs legend Dirk Nowitzki, who is entering his 21st season and will be in the Hall of Fame someday. Nowitzki's game has always been built around shooting and, though he developed into a decent shot-blocker in his prime, was never an elite rim protector.

Wagner hopes to follow in his footsteps playing a similar style.

"He was my MJ. He kind of shows you 'okay, this is possible and this is doable.' It's just basketball," Wagner said. "It gives you a lot of hope. It gives you a lot of belief and motivation."

Hear more from Wagner in his one-on-one interview with Chris Miller in our latest Wizards Tipoff podcast. His interview can also be found in the video above:

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Believe it or not, this isn't the first D.C. vs. Vegas postseason matchup

Believe it or not, this isn't the first D.C. vs. Vegas postseason matchup

In what is perhaps the most unexpected Stanley Cup Final pairing in recent memory, the Washington Capitals and the Las Vegas Golden Knights are going to make history this year.

Either it is going to be the first expansion team to win a title in their first season, or it will be a team looking to end a 27-year title drought for one of the biggest cities in the United States.

But what it will not be is the first D.C. vs. Vegas postseason matchup.

Going even farther back than the Capitals last Stanley Cup appearance (1998), the Georgetown Hoyas and UNLV Rebels met in the 1991 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

Sin City took the first, and up until now, the only postseason bout between these two cities. The Larry Johnson-led University of Las Vegas squad powered right past the Hoyas in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament.

[D.C. sports and Second Rounds, I know right?]

Coming fresh off the NCAA title in 1990, UNLV waltzed right to the Final Four before meeting their demise against Duke. It also ended up being the last game for Dikembe Mutombo in a Georgetown uniform.

While in all likely-hood this will not be the final game/ series for Alex Ovechkin rocking the red, it may be his last and only chance for him to play this far into a postseason.

In the past two seasons, Vegas has gone from zero professional teams to having a Stanley Cup contender, a WNBA franchise, and lined up to take over the Oakland Raiders in 2020. 

Now time for the Golden Knights' Cinderella story to come up a little bit short. 

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