NCAA

San Diego State jilts Big East, staying in MWC

San Diego State jilts Big East, staying in MWC

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) San Diego State is staying in the Mountain West and backing out on the Big East - just as Boise State did last month.

University President Elliot Hirshman said Tuesday that the school is pleased to be continuing as a full member of the Mountain West Conference.

San Diego State, a founding member, had committed to join the Big East for football only, with Boise State, starting next season. San Diego State's other teams were going to compete in the Big West.

But recent defections from the Big East caused Boise State to reconsider and strike a deal to stay in the Mountain West. Without a western partner, San Diego State retreated, too.

Unlike Boise State, San Diego State is not on the hook for an exit fee, because Boise State left first. San Diego State becomes the third school in the last 16 months to leave the Big East before ever actually joining. TCU did the same, reneging on a commitment to join the league in 2012 and instead accepting an invite to join the Big 12.

However, SDSU must pay a $1.5 million exit fee to the Big West, which was where its men's basketball team was headed next season before Tuesday's decision. That money will be defrayed by an estimated $2.5 million year-end distribution from the Mountain West.

``After substantial discussion and consideration of a broad range of factors, San Diego State University will be continuing as a full member of the Mountain West Conference in July 2013,'' Hirshman said in a statement. ``We have the deepest respect for our colleagues in the Mountain West, Big East and Big West conferences with whom we have worked collaboratively during the period of conference realignment. We are optimistic about the future of San Diego State University's athletic programs and the prospect of building on our university's rich tradition of intercollegiate athletics.''

The move leaves the Big East with only 10 football members for the forthcoming season, instead of the 12 it had planned to have. It also scraps plans to hold a conference title game, and will force the league office to come up with a new schedule. In early December, it had released a schedule with San Diego State and Boise State in a new western division.

The conference has 10 football members for 2013, but two of those - Louisville and Rutgers - are looking to leave by 2014. Louisville is headed to the Atlantic Coast Conference and Rutgers to the Big Ten, though exactly when those moves will take place is still to be determined.

Those departures, along with the seven non-FBS football members breaking away from the Big East, and the conference's inability to land a TV deal because of all the instability, caused Boise State to change course and return to the Mountain West.

Now the Mountain West will go into next season with 12 members, a restructured television contract with CBS Sports Network that allows the league to make extra money by selling some games, including Boise State home games, to other networks, and it plans to play a football championship game.

Wolfpack overcomes 10-minute scoring drought to top Virginia

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Wolfpack overcomes 10-minute scoring drought to top Virginia

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- D.J. Funderburk scored 14 points before fouling out and North Carolina State overcame a second-half scoring drought of more than 10 minutes in a 53-51 victory against Virginia on Monday night.

C.J. Bryce added 13 points for the Wolfpack (14-5, 5-3 Atlantic Coast Conference), including a jumper with 27 seconds left after allowing the shot clock to race to near 0:00. The victory ended an eight-game losing streak against the Cavaliers.

Viginia (12-6, 4-4) used a 15-0 run during the N.C. State scoring drought that lasted 10:13 to take a 46-42 lead, bringing the crowd at John Paul Jones Arena back into the game. But Jericole Hellems hit a 3-pointer for N.C. State with 3:38 left and, after a free throw by Mamadi Diakite for Virginia, Markell Johnson hit a 3-pointer and then Hellems' putback gave the Wolfpack a 50-47 lead.

Johnson and Bryce both missed the front end of one-and-one free throw opportunities, and Kihei Clark hit a pair for Virginia. Braxton Beverly made the first and missed the second for the Wolfpack with 7.2 seconds left, and the Cavaliers Casey Morsell was short on a contested 3 at the buzzer.

Clark led Virginia with 10 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

The Wolfpack had used an 8-0 run to go ahead 42-31. Virginia helped out by going scoreless for more than 6 1/2 minutes. Francisco Caffaro, who had just been inserted into the game, ended the drought with 11:13 left.

BIG PICTURE

N.C. State: The Wolfpack seemed on their way to a solid victory until the drought, during which they were 1 for 8 from the field with five turnovers and repeatedly let the shot clock run down into single digits, forcing bad shots.

Virginia: In the Cavaliers' continuing search for scoring help, freshman Casey Morsell had as many as three field goals for the first time since a 65-56 victory against Navy on Dec. 29. He was 4 for 20 from the field in his last five games. He finished the night 4 for 9 and his buzzer-beater attempt was closely guarded.

UP NEXT

The Wolfpack remains on the road and plays at Georgia Tech on Saturday.

The Cavaliers go on the road and play at Wake Forest on Sunday.

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Despite place in standings, Wizards believe playoffs aren't a pipe dream

Despite place in standings, Wizards believe playoffs aren't a pipe dream

WASHINGTON -- This may be the most realistic and self-aware Wizards team we have seen in a while. It wasn't long ago they had a penchant for talking big about what they believed they could accomplish. Nowadays, knowing where they are in the standings, their expectations are much more measured.

They know they are 12th in the Eastern Conference, even after beating the Pistons on Monday. They know their 14-28 record, which is 14 games under .500 and has them on pace to win 27 total games, isn't good.

But the Wizards are allowed to dream and they say making the playoffs is still something they would like to do.

"That's the goal, that's every day for us. [It's] in the back of my mind," shooting guard Bradley Beal said.

"I watch the games, I watch the standings and everything. We're not talking about it," head coach Scott Brooks said. "If that comes into play [we'll see]. The seventh and eighth seeds, the records aren't great."

There is certainly a case for that. The two teams currently occupying the bottom two playoff spots in the East have sub-.500 records. The seventh-ranked Magic are 20-23 and the Brooklyn Nets are in eighth with an 18-24 mark.

Last season, the Charlotte Hornets held up the Eastern Conference playoff bracket with a losing record as the eighth seed. They went 39-43, not good but still a much better pace than the Wizards are currently on. To win 39 games, they would have to go 25-16 the rest of the way.

Though they have shown some positive signs, going 4-4 in their last eight games, that would require going to a completely different level in the second half of the season. Still, there is no harm in maintaining their goals.

Beal, for one, has envisioned a way it can happen.

"Especially once All-Star hits, that second half is just flying. We have to tighten up and try to get some wins here before the break because that's usually the time when teams like to ease off the pedal a little bit. We have to take advantage of [that], that advantage of our schedule, take care of our bodies, and rally together," he said.

If the Wizards really, really wanted to go for the playoffs, they could try to add some pieces before the Feb. 6 trade deadline. But that should not be expected. In fact, this year's deadline for the Wizards likely won't be affected much at all by the playoff picture.

It's hard to envision them being buyers and they may not be able to be true sellers, either, due to injuries and other factors. Also, there is a belief in the front office that keeping a close distance in the playoff race could be a nice incentive for their young players, that having something to work for later in the season could help their development.

If the Wizards did somehow make the playoffs or even get close, that would be quite the surprise and it would say a lot about the direction of the organization. But in the long-term, it would seem to be more beneficial if they continue on their current course and end up with a top draft pick.

The Wizards right now have the fifth-worst record in the league. That would net them a lot of ping-pong balls for the draft lottery.

It seems likely that's where this season will end. But it doesn't hurt to try.

"We just want to play. We just want to finish the second half of the season playing better," Brooks said.

The Wizards are only 4 1/2 games back in the playoff race. Stranger things have happened.

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