Some news and notes from the college basketball world:
• One interesting aspect of this offseason is that thanks to a rule passed in January, coaches now will be able to work with players before practice officially opens in the fall. Old NCAA rules prohibited coaches from providing instruction during the summer, and any summer activities, including strength and conditioning work, were voluntary. The new rule allows two hours of full instruction and six hours of strength and conditioning per week, spread out over eight weeks (16 total hours). Under the rule, players either have to be enrolled in summer school or be in good academic standing in order to practice if they are not in summer school. Football coaches generally require incoming freshmen to enroll in summer school; look for that to become the norm in basketball, too.
• Three high school rising seniors are among the 14 finalists for the United States' U-18 national team. The three: G Nathaniel Britt of Washington (D.C.) Gonzaga, F Austin Nichols of Memphis Briarcrest Christian and F Julius Randle of Plano (Texas) Prestonwood Christian. Britt has committed to North Carolina, while Nichols and Randle are uncommitted. One current college player, Tennessee F Jarnell Stokes, is among the finalists, along with 10 incoming freshmen: Wisconsin F Sam Dekker, Memphis F Shaq Goodwin, Syracuse F Jerami Grant, Louisville F Montrezl Harrell, North Carolina C Joel James, Maryland F Jake Layman, North Carolina State G Rodney Purvis, Pitt G James Robinson, Oklahoma State G Marcus Smart and Duke G Rasheed Sulaimon. The 14 finalists were chosen from among 23 players who initially were invited to try out. Perhaps the biggest name among those who didn't make the final list was incoming Providence freshman G Kris Dunn. The official 12-man roster will be finalized Monday or Tuesday, before the team leaves for the 2012 FIBA Americas U18 Championship; those are June 16-20 in Sao Sebastiao do Paraiso, Brazil. The top four teams in the eight-team field qualify for next summer's 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship. Florida's Billy Donovan is the coach, and he's assisted by Gonzaga’s Mark Few and VCU's Shaka Smart.
[Related: How do players cut from U-18 team fare in college?]
• The SEC has grown to 14 teams with the addition of Missouri and Texas A&M, and the league announced its revamped scheduling format this week. There now will be an 18-game schedule (an increase of two games) that features at least one game against each conference opponent. Teams will play one permanent rival, four rotating opponents that will be played home-and-home each season and eight teams that will be played once each season (four at home and four on the road). Each school will play its permanent rival home and away each season. The permanent rivals: Alabama-Auburn, Arkansas-Missouri, Florida-Kentucky, Georgia-South Carolina, LSU-Texas-A&M, Ole Miss-Mississippi State and Tennessee-Vanderbilt. Kentucky generally has been the only visiting team that guarantees an automatic sellout each season, so there are going to be some disappointed ticket managers in the league. The SEC's 2012-13 schedule won't be announced until August.
• The Atlantic 10 has grown to 16 teams with the additions this offseason of Butler and VCU, which led to the league changing its scheduling format. The A-10 released its 2012-13 schedule this week; each school has 16 games, split evenly between home and road. There are seven one-game matchups at home, seven on the road and one home-and-home series. The home-and-home matchups: Butler and Saint Louis (which likely will be the preseason favorite), Charlotte and Temple, Dayton and Xavier, Duquesne and St. Bonaventure, Fordham and Saint Joseph’s, George Washington and La Salle, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, Richmond and VCU. The format means none of the league's three Philadelphia-based schools (La Salle, St. Joe’s and Temple) have home-and-home series with any of the others.
• The eight-team field for the Puerto Rico Tip-Off (Nov. 15-18) was announced this week, and it's a good group of teams. The eight: Akron, Massachusetts, North Carolina State, Oklahoma State, UNC Asheville, Penn State, Providence and Tennessee. N.C. State should be a preseason top-10 team, and Providence's freshman class will be worth watching.
• The Paradise Jam field also was announced. The eight teams for the event, held Nov. 16-19 in the Virgin Islands: Connecticut, George Mason, Illinois-Chicago, Iona, Mercer, New Mexico, Quinnipiac and Wake Forest. New Mexico looms as the favorite.
• Memphis G Charles Carmouche was granted a fifth year of eligibility by the NCAA. He had played four consecutive years, including two at New Orleans, but missed most of last season with knee issues. Carmouche likely won't start, but he will add solid outside shooting off the bench for the Tigers, who missed his 3-point ability last season.
Other popular content on the Yahoo! network:
• Johnny Ludden: Thunder's Kevin Durant ready to take center stage in NBA Finals
• Mets' Johan Santana struggles in first start after throwing no-hitter
• Peyton Manning taking up residence in Mike Shanahan's former home in Denver
• Y! Screen: Yankees fan shows support with tooth tattoo