Penn State is upping its strength of schedule ... come 2021.
The Nittany Lions announced a home-and-home series with Auburn on Monday, with games slated for the 2021 and 2022 seasons. Penn State will play host to Auburn on Sept. 18, 2021, and then travel to take on the Tigers on Sept. 17, 2022.
Not only will these games be the first regular-season meetings between the two schools, they will be the first two regular-season games Auburn has ever played against a Big Ten opponent.
Penn State has played Auburn twice in bowl games, winning the 1996 Outback Bowl and losing the 2003 Capital One Bowl.
"We are thrilled to be adding Auburn to our future football schedules," Penn State athletics director Sandy Barbour said in the announcement. "This is a great intersectional matchup, and there will be significant interest from alumni, fans and students of both schools to be a part of the electric atmospheres on both campuses. I am very appreciative of (Auburn athletics director) Jay Jacobs’ interest and efforts in making this home-and-home series a reality."
The Lions also announced Monday future non-conference games with Ball State and Buffalo for the 2019 and 2021 seasons, respectively.
Penn State's non-conference schedule could use a shot in the arm following the conclusion of the current decade. The highlight of the next four seasons' slates is an annual meeting with in-state rival Pittsburgh, not a bad team by any stretch but not a team such as the attention-grabbing Auburn, which is just two seasons removed from an appearance in the national championship game. The Lions also have future non-conference series scheduled with Virginia Tech and West Virginia.
The future games also provide a Big Ten-SEC matchup fans and observers always seem to crave, particularly when played between two higher-caliber programs. There are only 10 other regular-season meetings between Big Ten and SEC teams currently scheduled: this season's opener between Wisconsin and LSU, a Michigan-Florida tilt in 2017, a 2017-2018 series between Purdue and Missouri, a 2018-2019 series between Michigan and Arkansas, a 2019 game between Purdue and Vanderbilt, a home-and-home between Nebraska and Tennessee in 2026 and 2027 and another Purdue-Vanderbilt showdown all the way in 2029.
Jimmy Butler officially has been named to the Team USA basketball roster and will compete in the Rio 2016 Olympics, the Bulls announced Monday.
Butler reportedly accepted the invitation to compete last week and will mark the first member of the Bulls to compete in the Olympics since Scottie Pippen in 1996.
Butler is one of 10 players on the roster who will compete for Team USA in the Olympics for the first time. The only returning members from the 2012 Gold-medal team are Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony; Anthony also won Gold in 2008, and could become the first player ever to win three gold medals in basketball.
Joining Butler, Durant and Anthony in Rio will be Kyrie Irving, Harrison Barnes, DeMarcus Cousins, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, Paul George, Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan and DeAndre Jordan.
Though Team USA is still the prohibitive favorites to win gold for the third straight Summer Olympics, the team is void of some of the NBA's best current players including LeBron James, Steph Curry, Kawhi Leonard, James Harden and Russell Westbrook. Jordan is the only member of this year's All-NBA First Team on the Olympic roster.
Butler will compete with Team USA for the first time, but he's no stranger to USA Basketball. A groin injury prevented him from participating on the Team USA Select Team in 2014, but he was named to the USA Basketball roster the following summer. He was named one of 30 finalists for a spot on the Olympic roster in January.
Butler's inclusion on the team was no surprise after he averaged 20.9 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.8 assists for the Bulls a year ago. He also added 1.6 steals per game and was named to the All-NBA Defensive Second Team for the third consecutive season. Butler's passing improved as much as any aspect of his game this past season, and he averaged 6.1 assists per game after the All-Star break. That will come in handy in Rio, as Irving and Lowry are the only two true point guards on the roster.
Butler will be one of two Bulls competing in this summer's Olympics. Their second round pick, small forward Paul Zipser, is a member of the German national team and will compete for his country. Pau Gasol, who spent two years with the Bulls and will opt out of his contract this summer, will compete for the Spain national team, which won silver medals in 2008 and 2012.
The Bulls will introduce first round draft pick Denzel Valentine on Monday at the Advocate Center, and CSN has you covered all the way.
Tune in to CSN Chicago or catch a live stream on CSNChicago.com at 11 a.m. as GM Gar Forman and head coach Fred Hoiberg introduce Valentine, the Michigan State senior whom the Bulls selected 14th overall in last week's NBA Draft.
Valentine, last year's AP Player of the Year, became the first player in NCAA history to average at least 19 points, seven rebounds and seven assists in a single season. The shooting guard's versatility and ability to shoot from the perimeter will make him a perfect fit in Fred Hoiberg's system, and his passing will help in the wake of the Bulls dealing Derrick Rose to the Knicks.
Check out our coverage of Valentine and the rest of the Bulls draft: