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

Louisville backcourt struggles in first scrimmage

Quentin Snider, Jerian Grant
Associated Press
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While a few teams did manage to hold special events for the official start of practice this weekend, most simply went about their business with drills and conditioning. One team that was the exception to all of this was Louisville, which held the first of its two intersquad scrimmages on Saturday. The Cardinals had a head start of sorts on the season, as they played six exhibition games in Puerto Rico this summer.

One hope heading into Saturday’s scrimmage was that guards Trey Lewis and Quentin Snider would have better chemistry than they did in Puerto Rico. But according to Jeff Greer of the Louisville Courier-Journal, that remains a work in progress for the Cleveland State transfer (Lewis) and rising sophomore (Snider).

They struggled in Puerto Rico, and they struggled again in Saturday’s Red-White scrimmage, the first public intrasquad practice since August. They played one half of the game together, paired with the presumed starting lineup with Mangok Mathiang out with an eye injury, a group that also included Damion Lee, Jaylen Johnson and Chinanu Onuaku.

That team lost the first half by 13 points to a younger group of Louisville players, and Lewis and Snider combined for eight points on 3-of-12 shooting, five turnovers, five steals, four assists and three rebounds.

“I thought (Snider) and (Lewis) did not play well together,” U of L coach Rick Pitino said. “They’ve got to get used to that. Neither guy made other guys better. That’s what they need to learn to do.”

As Greer also noted in his story the Cardinals have in recent years employed backcourt tandems in which both guards are capable of making plays for themselves and others. On the 2013 national champion team Peyton Siva and Russ Smith led the way, with Smith being joined by Terry Rozier or Chris Jones the following season and Rozier/Jones being the grouping last season before the latter was dismissed from the team.

Once Jones was dismissed Snider saw more time on the court, and his development was one of the keys for a Louisville team that fell one win short of the Final Four. Louisville needs him to take another step forward heading into the 2015-16 season, because even with Lewis’ experience at the Division I level Snider has more experience playing in Pitino’s system.

But while Saturday’s scrimmage didn’t go as well as anyone involved hoped, there’s still plenty of time for Louisville to work out the kinks before they open the season November 13 against Samford.

Knee injury sidelines Memphis assistant

Toronto Raptors vs Charlotte Hornets
Associated Press
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With practices beginning this weekend, not only are players looking to avoid the injury bug but their coaches are as well. And in the case of Memphis, the Tigers won’t have one of their assistants on the court for a little while due to a knee injury.

Assistant coach Damon Stoudamire, who returned to Josh Pastner’s staff this summer after a two-year stint at Arizona, suffered the injury during a recent workout according to L. Jason Smith of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal. And Stoudamire will require surgery, which will put him on the shelf for a little bit.

“He was working out himself and I think he thought he was in his rookie year,” Pastner said. “We think he’s got a torn meniscus, which will require surgery and put him out for a couple of days.”

Stoudamire isn’t the only assistant coach working through pain either. Syracuse’s Mike Hopkins, who is also Jim Boeheim’s heir apparent as head coach, suffered a neck injury body surfing during a family vacation last month. Hopkins spent some time in a neck brace while putting players through workouts as a result of the injury.

As for the Tigers, they’ll have a mixture of experience on the perimeter and youth in the front court as they look to get back to the NCAA tournament after missing out last season. Among the newcomers are talented forwards Dedric and K.J. Lawson, with experienced guards such as Kedren Johnson, Trahson Burrell and Ricky Tarrant (grad transfer from Alabama) expected to be key contributors on the perimeter.