The Morning Mix

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Championship Week is here.  By this time next week, five conferences will have handed out auto-bids. But before we can get to that, we there is a lot of news and notes to digest from a busy weekend in college hoops.

The final regular season meeting of the “Border War” was a legendary affair. An Instant Classic. Game-of-the-Year. Why is this rivalry ending again? College basketball needs this game. If this rivalry is going to end, they certainly put on one heckuva finale. Take a gander at a solid photo gallery from the final “Border War”

– Chuck Landon takes Memphis to task. This article doesn’t accomplish much, but it sure is entertaining

–  After beating Vanderbilt on Saturday, Kentucky’s Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was quoted as saying “I’m graduating here. I’m not going Anywhere. I’m staying at Kentucky as of now”  and “I’m dead serious. I don’t know why y’all laughing?” But the freshman forward backtracked a bit, saying “I’m going to do whatever is best for me.” It’s a near-guarantee that MKG would be a lottery pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. CBS Sports’ Jeff Goodman then caused a mini-riot in Lexington when he tweeted that power-broker “World Wide Wes” would factor into MKG’s decision. In Goodman’s defense, it’s not an illogical thought at all. Nor is it an accusation or loaded opinion with hidden agenda

– Speaking of Kentucky, what do the Wildcats need to do before postseason play begins? In case you haven’t watched Kentucky play at all this season, you should probably know that Anthony Davis is an absolute animal. But will a perfect regular season bode well for the ‘Cats come postseason time?

The NCAA handed down it’s (harsh) punishment to former-Radford coach Brad Greenberg, the brother of Virginia Tech head coach Seth Greenberg

Nebraska boosters took out a full-page advertisement  in order to show their support for Doc Sadler, the Huskers head basketball coach

– It was announced very shortly before the tip-off on Sunday that Miami center Reggie Johnson was ruled ineligible to play. The ‘Canes did well without him, beating in-state rivals Florida State

– Missouri State’s Kyle Weems could have left after last season. After all, he had graduated, and with a year of eligibility left, was being pursued by high-major teams. But he decided to finish what he started

– We all saw what Pat Knight said following his team’s loss to Sam Houston State on Wednesday night. If you haven’t already done it, take a look. But maybe Knight was on to something. While the rant was well, “colorful”, it did provide some national spotlight on the small Southland Conference school. Plus, parents of a few of the players were fully supportive of what Knight had to say, and on Saturday his Lamar Cardinals went out and smacked Stephen F. Austin 72-49. So, instead of asking if it was “Rant of the Year“, maybe we should be asking if it was the “savviest Coaching Technique of the Year”?

If you didn’t read this already, make sure you do. Dan Hanner provides an excellent breakdown of the top coaches in the country based on player development and recruiting

– We reached our quota this weekend for “dancing coach videos”. On Friday night, Marquette’s Buzz Williams two-stepped on West Virginia’s court, and on Sunday, Wisconsin’s Bo Ryan did something vaguely resembling a dance move

A nice little preview of the Horizon League Tournament

A nice little tournament tracker to get your week off on the right track

– Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey is in line to possibly receive his fourth “Coach of the Year” award

– Jim Calhoun plans on making his return to the sideline on March 3 when the UConn Huskies take on Pittsburgh in the regular season finale

– A former-Oregon State basketball player was arrested on drug trafficking charges

– Doug Gottlieb wonders if the UConn Huskies can make another remarkable post-season run

– At the beginning of the season, did anyone project Xavier as a bubble team? If you did, you’re lying

A nice write-up on Wisconsin redshirt freshman Evan Anderson and the value of patience

– Just in case you weren’t already aware that message boards breed hate and unnecessary vitriol, read the solid-take from Boiled Sports

– Alabama head coach Anthony Grant is getting the job done this season. Sure, the record might not indicate the success he’s had, but he is getting it done. On and off the court

– Speaking of Alabama, Levi Randolph almost killed ESPN analyst Jimmy Dykes during the Crimson Tide’s victory at Arkansas

– Don’t look now, but the Ivy League title race is starting to heat up

– After starting the season 1-11, the Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils are looking to finish up an undefeated SWAC season

– Michigan forward Jon Horford is officially done for the year and will take a medical redshirt

– Tennessee might not make the tournament this year, but the team is improving leaps and bounds under new head coach Cuonzo Martin

– Looking for a sleeper pick in the Summit League Tournament? How about IUPUI, the hottest team in the league? What if we were talking about the Big East Tournament? May I suggest St. Johns?

– Former-Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese put college presidents “on blast”

– When a game-winner is outdone by a full-court buzzer-beater

Minnesota center to miss a month

ST. LOUIS, MO - MARCH 7: Reggie Lynch #22 of the Illinois State Redbirds and Fred VanVleet #23 of the Wichita State Shockers fight for control of a loose ball during the MVC Basketball Tournament Semifinals at the Scottrade Center on March 7, 2015 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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Minnesota’s projected starting center is sidelined, but is expected to be ready for the season opener.

Reggie Lynch, the Illinois State transfer, had surgery on his left knee, the program announced on Friday night. According to Marcus R. Fuller of the Star-Tribune, the Golden Gophers are anticipating that Lynch is available for the season opener on Nov. 11 against Louisiana-Lafayette.

The 6-foot-10 Lynch has been in the news this offseason prior to his impending debut with Minnesota. In May, he was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault. On August 1, the Hennepin County attorney’s office was announced he would not face charges, citing insufficient evidence.

Lynch spent two seasons at Illinois State, averaging 9.5 points and 5.4 rebounds per game for the Redbirds as a sophomore. He sat out the 2015-16 season due to NCAA transfer rules. Minnesota is coming off a second-to-last place finish in the Big Ten with an 8-23 (2-16 Big Ten) record.

Women’s hoops coaches boycotting recruiting events

DENVER, CO - MARCH 31:  Head coach Muffet McGraw of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish directs her team during practice prior to the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament Final Four at Pepsi Center on March 31, 2012 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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For some high-major women’s basketball programs, the final evaluation period of 2016 is being used as a vacation from the recruiting trail.

According to a report from Lindsay Schnell of Sports Illustrated, are not attending events during this weekend’s recruiting period for a host of reasons.

First, many are fed up with the price of tournament packets, booklets of rosters that college coaches receive upon paying their entry fee. Packets are supposed to be chock-full of contact information for the prospects, but sometimes aren’t accurate or up-to-date. (This has become a well-documented issue on the men’s side of college hoops. CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish wrote on it this summer.) Furthermore, there are so many events now that college coaches are often forced to pay obscene amounts of money to watch just one player at a single event, and play recruiting hopscotch around the country, criss-crossing the nation to see so many events and spend thousands of dollars. One Power Five coach said her staff crunched the numbers, and found that in just two years, they’ve spent more than $4,000 more than they did in 2014 on packets alone. Another coach told a story of sending an assistant across the country for one day, to one event, to watch one team. When the assistant arrived, the team had left early for its next event. No refund was available for the college that had paid what turned out to be a useless entry fee. The head coach called it “exasperating.”

Jeff Borzello of ESPN, who spoke to Notre Dame head coach and eventual Hall of Famer Muffet McGraw for his report, estimated that the cost for one of the coaches packets — the ones that include player contact information, rosters, etc. — can cost each school an average of $600 per event.

This era of grassroots basketball has taken off in recent years with Nike, Under Armour and adidas all creating their own sponsored leagues. All three run exceptional events from the staff to the facilities, all the way to the three, free meals a day for coaches. Organizers of these events will argue that there’s a cost to running such high-end events. These packets, some of which are so in-depth they include players’ GPAs, help fund these tournaments (events, paying a staff, etc.).

Coaches, mostly mid to low-major coaches, will argue that these packets aren’t worth the cost, considering that every coach (head and assistant) must purchase them in order to gain entrance. And you will find packets where the information inside is either inaccurate, or missing or both. For elite programs, this isn’t an issue. You show up, you’re seen, you leave, you go to the next event, repeat. For mid to low-major coaches, this really puts a dent in their budget, especially when they have to travel to multiple events (buying packets at each one) because you have to land that “steal,” you have to find that player who is overlooked.

This protest, or boycott (or whatever you want to call it) will hurt those these events are intended to help the most: the players. If coaches continue to avoid these tournaments, that late-bloomer may miss out on a scholarship, or that player with mid-major offers won’t get the chance to play in front of high-major coaches.

According to Schnell, there is a proposal, voted on in April, to eliminate a live recruiting period in April and September. But many coaches in women’s basketball have made it clear this weekend how they feel about the issue.

USC lands commitment from three-star center

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USC added to its 2017 recruiting class with a commitment from a 7-foot big man.

Andy Enfield and the Trojans beat out Florida, Vanderbilt and Tennessee for the services of Calvary Christian Academy (Florida) center Victor Uyaelunmo. He announced his college decision on Friday afternoon.

“It was the best fit for me academically and athletically,” Uyaelunmo said according to David Furones of the Sun Sentinel. “The basketball coaches really wanted me to come, and I thought it was the best place for me.

“They told me how they were going to use me, and they have a couple of guys leaving this year, so I just fit in right.”

Uyaelunmo is regarded as a three-star prospect by Rivals, however, ESPN rates him a four-star recruit. He joins a two-man class which includes four-star forward Jordan Usher.

The departure of Nikola Jovanovic, the Trojans’ leading rebounder during the 2015-16, was a surprising one, and one that left USC with a hole in the middle. While Uyaelunmo still has one more year before arriving on the Los Angeles campus, the Trojans have a promising piece in the paint for the future; a long, athletic big man who has the potential, in time, to become one of the nation’s top shot blockers.

Uyaelunmo played for Nike South Beach in the EYBL this spring and summer. In 12 appearances, he averaged 5.0 points. 5.9 rebounds and 1.0 block in 17.6 minutes per game.

VIDEO: Rupp Arena’s new video board arrives

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Rupp Arena is getting a makeover. Take a peak as the new video board arrives and is put together:

Five-star freshman ruled ineligible to play for Villanova this season

Jay Wright
(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
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Omari Spellman will not be eligible to play for Villanova this season, the school announced on Friday morning.

“We are extremely disappointed for Omari,” stated Villanova head coach Jay Wright. “While we don’t agree with the NCAA’s decision, we are members of the association and respect it. We understand why the NCAA felt it had to rule this way.”

“We will make a positive out of this for Omari. He will concentrate on his academics and individual development this season. In the long run Omari will be a better student and player for this experience.”

Spellman is a top 20 recruit that played for St. Thomas More this past season. At 6-foot-9, 260 pounds, Spellman was going to be counted on to play a major role in replacing Daniel Ochefu, the 6-foot-11 center that graduated this past spring. Without Spellman, Villanova will have to rely on inconsistent senior Darryl Reynolds to man their front line.

It is worth noting, however, that Reynolds did average 9.0 points and 10.6 boards in three games Ochefu missed last year. That was the first time in his career that he was given consistent minutes.

Spellman will be allowed to continue to practice with Villanova as he takes an academic redshirt.