1. Unlike other former college basketball players who return to their former schools to finish their degrees once their NBA careers are over, ex-LSU center Stanley Roberts had more than just a semester or two left. He was starting from academic ground zero. The New Orleans Times-Picayune tells the heartwarming story of Roberts overcoming financial limitations, a learning disability and ultimately triple-bypass heart surgery to walk across the stage and get his diploma Friday.
2. The splintering of the Big East dominated the college basketball news cycle for the past 24 hours, so not surprisingly plenty of good content emerged. My favorite is this piece from Hartford Courant columnist Jeff Jacobs, who puts UConn's plight into perspective, scoffs at the notion the Catholic Seven deserve sympathy and makes a compelling case the Big East brought this on itself.
3. Fiery Rutgers coach Mike Rice's three-game suspension without pay apparently stems from a series of incidents during practice. According to the Star-Ledger, the suspension followed an internal investigation that revealed Rice used abusive, profane language toward his players and also threw basketballs at some players' heads. Athletic director Tom Pernetti told the Star-Ledger he never considered firing Rice, but it's clear the school is sending a message.
4. The reaction from Wake Forest fans to this blog post by ESPN.com's Eamonn Brennan is a clear sign of the pressure on athletic director Ron Wellman to fire Demon Deacons coach Jeff Bzdelik. Not only were Wake Forest fans happy with Brennan's criticism of Bzdelik for no longer taking live calls on his weekly radio show, they encouraged him to take every opportunity to rip the struggling Demon Deacons the rest of the season in hopes it is one step closer to getting rid of Bzdelik.
5. Among the many excellent reads Thursday that were lost amid the torrent of Big East breakup news stories was this excellent piece from Dana O'Neil on the impending 50-year anniversary of the "Game of Change" between Loyola (Ill.) and Mississippi State. The story is especially timely with the two teams meeting for the first time in 50 years on Saturday in Chicago.
James Fraschilla, a sophomore guard at Oklahoma and the son of ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla, put together a pretty impressive trick shot video that even features a cameo from Sooners quarterback Landry Jones and kicker Eric Hosek. The video benefits the Hayden's Hope Foundation, which raises awareness for pediatric organ donation.
"Indiana is the best team in the country, and I'm not sure it's that close." -- Butler coach Brad Stevens, contradicting the widely held belief that college basketball is wide open this season. Of course, Stevens does have good reason to butter up Indiana. His Bulldogs face the Hoosiers on Saturday in Indianapolis (Peegs.com)
• Charlotte at Miami, 7 p.m. EST
• LSU at Boise State, 9 p.m. EST