Steve Alford and the University of New Mexico announced Wednesday that have agreed to terms of a 10-year contract extension, just one day before Alford leads the third-seeded Lobos into the NCAA Tournament. Alford's deal officially begins April 1 and includes a raise of $240,000, plus a $1 million buyout if the coach leaves before April 1, 2015. The buyout drops to $500,000 after April 1, 2015. The Lobos are 29-5 this season and were ranked throughout the season in the two primary national polls. ---The new Big East confirmed that Butler, Creighton and Xavier are joining the 10-team conference that will begin play next season, as well announcing the completion of a 12-year TV deal with Fox Sports and that Madison Square Garden will host the conference tournament through 2026. Butler and Xavier are leaving the Atlantic 10 and Creighton is bolting the Missouri Valley Conference after this season to join Georgetown, Villanova, Marquette, St. John's, Providence, Seton Hall and DePaul in the new Big East. The conference will begin operations on July 1. ---Even though President Barack Obama hails from Illinois, he's picking Big 10 rival Indiana to win the NCAA tournament. Obama's Final Four, which was revealed Tuesday, includes Ohio State, also from the Big Ten, and Louisville and Florida. Obama has filled out a bracket for ESPN since he took office. Last year, he correctly selected Ohio State and Kentucky to reach the Final Four but missed on his national champion, North Carolina. In the women's NCAA tournament, Obama ticketed Baylor, Connecticut, Notre Dame and California in the Final Four. ---Still licking his wounds after being upset and knocked out of the NIT in the first round by Robert Morris, Kentucky coach John Calipari got a bit of good news when Julius Randle, ranked the nation's No. 1 power forward and No. 3 overall recruit in the Class of 2013 by ESPN, announced that he will sign with Kentucky. The 6-foot-8 Randle chose the Wildcats over Kansas, Florida and Texas, giving Calipari his fourth No. 1 recruiting class nationally in five years. A foot injury limited Randle to seven games as a senior this season at Prestonwood Christian in Dallas, but he led the team to a state title, averaging 25.1 points and 12.7 rebounds. With six top-20 overall recruits, Kentucky's class is considered the best, according to player rankings, in history. Kentucky also has landed No. 1 point guard Andrew Harrison, No. 1 shooting guard Aaron Harrison, No. 1 center Dakari Johnson, No. 3 small forward James Young, No. 9 power forward Marcus Lee and power forward Derek Willis for next season. ---Syracuse University has received a letter of preliminary inquiry regarding a possible probe of its athletics program, according to CBSSports.com. The specifics of the violations, which are considered major, were not revealed in the report. The probe is believed to include football but to a lesser extent than basketball. The NCAA declined to confirm the investigation. Last year, Syracuse acknowledged an NCAA inquiry into possible violations of its drug policy.
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