The Morning Mix

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Today is the day. This is our Superbowl. Embrace it. Enjoy it. Bracket Challenge or no Bracket Challenge, this is the best day of the year.

Gene Wojciechowski wrote a phenomenal piece on “The Kentucky Way” and how we perceive its effectiveness

– As Steve Rushin points out, it’s not just the action on the court that makes March Madness great, it’s the sights and sounds of the environment

Fifth grader gets sent to principal’s office for running a bracket pool. We live in a such a soft world. I was bracketeering the preseason N.I.T. as early as the grade

Michael Rosenberg breaks down a host of different storylines that could make March Madness even more compelling

Dana O’Neil predicts the fortune of every team in the tournament

– Rush The Court makes five bold tournament predictions

– Apparently, these are the seven best bracket tips for the casual fan

– Apparently Brent Kulwiki knows exactly how to win the Bracket Challenge you are participating in

– I’ve often felt that we should keep track of people’s prognostications more often, especially, say, meteorologists

– A handful of NFL players have made their bracket picks. Texans’ running back Ben Tate thinks Loyola is going to shock the world. Ballsy pick, but I like it

Five Vegas trends to keep track up

– Now this is my kind of bracket challenge: Cheerleader edition

Is mometnum really that big of a deal when it comes to March Madness longevity?

– So, Jakarr Sampson has recommitted to St. John’s. Does anybody know why he decommitted in the first place?

A nice-read on VCU’s Juvonte Reddic, who remains the calm inside the havoc

– With every passing day of March Madness, the Circle of March gets smaller and smaller

– According to Notre Dame coach Mike Brey, the other conferences were not happy that the Big East got nine teams in to the tournament

– As Jon Rothstein would say: So much Danny Ferry in Ryan Kelly….. Seriously, Kelly is pretty vital to Duke’s post-season success

– The only remaining member of Harvard’s last NCAA tournament team will be on hand for the Crimson’s second round game against Vanderbilt

– Iowa State superstar Royce White is afraid of flying. So naturally, he’s decided to drive to Louisville for the Cyclone’s second round matchup with UConn

– The Crosstown Brawl didn’t impact the Bearcat’s season as much as we think it did, but it wasn’t exactly a non-event either.

– With Mike D’Anotni resigning as head coach of the Knicks, John Calipari has jumped to the top of the list of potential replacements. Except coach Cal isn’t leaving Kentucky.  But UConn coach Jim Calhoun could see Calipari leaving Kentucky for the NBA. Where does coach Cal rank among the best coaches never to win a National Championship

– Central Michigan has fired head coach Ernie Zeigler, whose son Trey, plays for the team. With his father out as head coach, a hot recuriting battle could ensue for Trey’s services

Durand Scott has been reinstated at Miami, but must sit out five games and will have to repay the monetary value of the benefits in the form of a charitable donation

Villanova guard Maalik Wayns will test the NBA draft waters. it makes sense, his stock won’t get any higher next year, and the Wildcats were pretty bad this past season

– I’ve been to LIU-Brooklyn’s gym, and they could definitely use a much larger gym. Looks like they might just get one

– You don’t need to be a fan of UCLA to get behind this cause

South Dakota State gets two commits

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Tuesday was a busy and productive one for South Dakota State on the recruiting trail.

The Jackrabbits secured two 2017 commitments from the state of Wisconsin in Ryan Krueger and Alex Arians, a source tells NBCSports.com.

Krueger is a 6-foot-5 wing player from New London, Wisc. while Arians is a 6-foot-4 guard from Madison, Wisc., who also held an offer from Wright State, which is coached by former SDSU coach Scott Nagy. Both players spend their summers playing for the Wisconsin Swing grassroots program.

The pair make it a trio of commits for the Jackrabbits in 2017 with another Wisconsinite, Alou Dillon, pledging to first-year Jackrabbits coach T.J. Otzelberger, himself a Wisconsin native, earlier this summer.

South Dakota State went 26-8 last year and the bulk of the team that made the NCAA tournament last year, including sophomore Mike Daum, who led the team in scoring and rebounding as a freshman.

Incoming Gator freshman ineligible for upcoming season

Mike White
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Florida will need to wait a year before seeing 6-foot-11 recruit Gorjok Gak playing games for the Gators.

The NCAA ruled that the incoming freshman will be able to enroll at Florida this year and practice with the team, but will be ineligible for games this season, the school announced Tuesday.

Should he meet all his progress marks during his freshman year, he’ll have three seasons of eligibility remaining starting in 2017-18.

Gak’s eligibility issue centered on his playing games during his postgraduate year at Victory Rock Prep, according to his coach there.

“Following his graduate year from Australia, he was supposed to play from December to December,” Loren Jackson told the Gainesville Sun, “but instead played from December until the following May.”

Gak originally signed with Oklahoma State, but de-committed following Travis Ford’s firing in Stillwater this past spring. Gak averaged 13.8 points and 9.3 rebounds last season at Victory Rock in Bradenton, Fla.

Florida went 21-15 last season under first-year coach Mike White.

Video: Coach K talks Team USA with Dan Patrick

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Team USA has blown through its competition in its first two exhibition games ahead of next month’s Olympics in Rio De Janeiro with wins over Argentina and China by a combined a combined 96 points.

Tonight, they’ll have a rematch against China, which they defeated 106-57 on Sunday, but it will also serve as the unofficial debut of Kevin Durant in front of his new hometown fans with the game taking place at the home of the Golden State Warriors, Oracle Arena, in Oakland.

“Excited for Kevin tonight to make his debut in front of the Golden State fans,” coach Mike Krzyzewski said Tuesday on the Dan Patrick Show. “He got a great reception (Monday) at a function. He was, as he should be, warmly welcomed.”

The team has been together since July 18 in the run-up to its first Olympic contest on Aug. 6 against China. For Krzyzewski, a couple of players have made an impression already.

“You see these guys on TV,” the Duke coach said, “but I don’t get a chance to see them in person. (Clipper) DeAndre Jordan is such a good player. A great athlete, a great guy. To see him run, defend, holy mackerel. He’ s really good.

“I haven’t seen Paul George in two years when he had that horrific (leg) injury in Las Vegas at one of our camps, and he’s so darn good. On defense, tremendous.”

It’s on the defensive side of the floor that Coach K believes his team can really make its mark even with the incredible collection of offensive talent the roster has.

“We’re very athletic so defensively we could be a very good defensive team,” he said. “We’ve shown a willingness to want to do that in the first two games.”

As usual, Team USA is the prohibitive favorite to bring back gold for the third consecutive Olympics, which will be Coach K’s last at the helm after taking over after the 2004 bronze medal debacle.

“I’m excited about the team,” he said. “It’s a short time. to see our guys working so hard and they get along so well, I’m excited about the team we might be in Rio. We’ll use tonight to get a little bit better.

“I kind of have the blinders on. You only have a short time. It’s a little over a month, and we want to win the gold medal in Rio.”

Rose’s transfer to BYU becomes official

Ge'Lawn Guyn, L.J. Rose
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His commitment came more than a month ago, but L.J. Rose’s transfer to BYU became official Tuesday.

The former Houston guard was officially announced as an immediately-eligible graduate transfer by BYU on Tuesday. He’ll bring much needed help to a Cougars backcourt that lost Kyle Collinsworth and Chase Fischer to graduation and Jordan Chatman and Jack Toolson to transfers.

“L.J. will add great experience and talent to our guard line,” BYU coach Dave Rose said in a statement released by BYU. “We’re excited about the leadership he will bring on the court and in the locker room. He will make us a deeper and more versatile team.”

As a junior, L.J. Rose averaged 9.8 points and 5.3 assists, but a foot injury limited him to just two games last season and allowed him to receive a medical redshirt and the opportunity to be a graduate transfer for his final collegiate season. He’ll be a big part of BYU’s attempt to build on last year’s 26-11 season as a former top-100 recruit, who began his career at Baylor, on a team in need of an infusion of talent after absorbing the losses from last year’s roster.

His father, Lynden, Sr., was a teammate of BYU coach Dave Rose at Houston during the program’s Phi Slama Jama era.

UCLA loses key forward to professional ranks

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 02:  Dillon Brooks #24 of the Oregon Ducks steals the ball from Jonah Bolden #43 of the UCLA Bruins during a 76-68 Ducks win at Pauley Pavilion on March 2, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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UCLA announced on Tuesday afternoon that Jonah Bolden will be forgoing his college eligibility to turn professional.

“Jonah Bolden has informed the coaching staff that he has opted to play professionally this season,” the release said.

Bolden is a versatile, 6-foot-10 forward with some NBA potential. In his only season playing with the Bruins, he averaged 4.6 points and 4.8 boards while starting 11 games. His ability on the defensive end of the floor was something the UCLA staff was counting on this season.

A sophomore this past season, Bolden was ruled a partial qualifier by the NCAA as a freshman, meaning that he was allowed to be on scholarship and in class but could not play during the 2014-15 season.

He had two seasons of eligibility remaining. Without Bolden, T.J Leaf will likely be counted on to play more minutes at the four.