The Morning Mix

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Grantland’s Chuck Klosterman explains that if Kentucky wins the National Championship, it might be the undoing of college basketball. It’s a good-read and is well-written, but the argument at the heart of piece is kinda, well, shortsighted.

– The four participating teams in new Orleans are chalk-full of former four and five star recruits

Gregg Doyel fears this super-mega rivalry game might just be too much for us to handle

Andrew McCarthy wrote a fabulous article about the rambunctious nature of basketball-savvy Kentuckians in comparison to the rest of the state

– There are ten things you need to do before watching the Kentucky-Louisville game this weekend

– Drew Franklin provides a list of ten things that Kentucky fans need to know about the Final Four weekend

– Speaking of the game, if you are a Wildcats fan and live in Louisville, you will not be welcomed at Zanzabar

– Rick Reilly did a solid job on his most recent column on the new perspective on life that Rick Pitino has received from his team

– A pretty cool read on the history and design behind the Final Four flooring

– Kansas was not supposed to be this good. That’s partially why people are lauding the coaching efforts of Bill Self this season. But Self isn’t sure this has been the best coaching job he’s done in his career

– The USA Today put together a wealthy database of salaries for NCAA tournament coaches. Wave good-bye to your Thursday morning

Great-read from the Indy Star on why top-tier mid majors are a better fit than most BCS-conference schools. Places like VCU and Butler expect quality hoops now, but don’t demand it. Ask somebody like Keno Davis just how much pressure there is at BCS-conference schools

– Did you know that Christian Laettner’s “shot” was made exactly 20 years ago yesterday. Most of us can’t remember what we had for dinner on Monday night, but we all can probably remember where we were when Laettner caught the ball, put it on the deck, pivoted, and sank the most famous shot in college basketball history

The Michigan AD would prefer if the Michigan State AD didn’t tweet about Trey Burke’s NBA draft decision

– Pacific University will join the West Coast Conference beginning in 2013-2014. The school was a charter member of the WCC forty years ago

– It’s being reported that Larry Brown has emerged as a candidate for the SMU head coaching vacancy

– The Illinois coaching search is finally over. Ohio head coach John Groce will be named the new head coach of Illinois. Groce’s stock soared in March, thanks to the Bobcat’s sensational run to the Sweet-16

– Now that the Illinois vacancy has been filled, Kansas State becomes the most major program with a head coaching opening

– Danny Manning, former-Final Four hero and current Kansas assistant coach, will become the new head coach at Tulsa

– Bryce Drew was interviewed for the job at Mississippi State, but has decided to return to the sidelines at Valparaiso

– Speaking of Mississippi State, Arnett Moultrie has decided to leave school in order to enter the NBA draft. the UTEP-transfer had a sensational season and is a lock to be selected in the first round

– The list of suitors for former-UConn center Alex Oriakhi keeps growing. We can add Virginia Tech and North Carolina State to that list as well

– Memphis forward Adonis Thomas has announced his decision to return to school for his sophomore season

– A solid list of seven transfers who will make an impact no matter where they land

Kansas State recruit Robert Upshaw will not be joining Frank Martin at South Carolina, nor will heading to “The Little Apple”

– Vermont sophomore Ryan McKeaney has decided to transfer

– North Carolina freshman James Michael McAdoo will return to Chapel Hill for his sophomore year

– A nice article from Ken Cross summing up Quincy Acy’s college career

– Numerous sources are apparently indicating that both Nerlens Noel and Shabazz Muhammad will end up at Kentucky

– Richmond head coach Chris Mooney likes the idea of VCU and George Mason joining the Atlantic-10

– Gary Williams thinks Kentucky could beat the Washington Wizards. Stan Van Gundy thinks that Williams’ statement is asinine

– Bernie Fine put his Syracuse house up for sale. Breaking news, I know….

Ray Lewis gave Stanford a pre-game speech before their N.I.T. semifinal. Ray-Ray could fire up a recreational Ultimate Frisbee team

VIDEO: Tom Izzo’s touching senior day tribute to Eron Harris

EAST LANSING, MI - FEBRUARY 26: Eron Harris #14 of the Michigan State Spartans kisses the midcourt logo on senior day during the second half of the college basketball game against the Wisconsin Badgers at the Breslin Center on February 26, 2017 in East Lansing, Michigan. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)
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Eron Harris suffered a career-ending knee injury in a game at Purdue earlier this month, meaning that he would not be able to take the floor for his Senior Day.

Tom Izzo made sure to rectify that, as he called a timeout with just 12 seconds left in Michigan State’s win over No. 16 Wisconsin on Sunday, giving Harris a chance to go out to the center of the court, get a standing ovation and give the Spartan logo a smooch.

He was also greeted by the Wisconsin team. All around great moment:

Nick Ward-led Michigan State beats No. 16 Wisconsin 84-74

EAST LANSING, MI - FEBRUARY 26: Nick Ward #44 of the Michigan State Spartans celebrates during a game against the Wisconsin Badgers in the second half at the Breslin Center on February 26, 2017 in East Lansing, Michigan. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)
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EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) Nick Ward had 22 points and nine rebounds, Miles Bridges had 17 points and Matt McQuaid added a season-high 15 to help Michigan State beat No. 16 Wisconsin 84-74 on Sunday.

The Spartans (18-11, 10-6 Big Ten) have won six of their last eight games, moving them into a third-place tie in the conference and perhaps sealing their spot in a 20th straight NCAA Tournament.

The Badgers (22-7, 11-5) have lost four of five and lost a chance to pull into a first-place tie with No. 14 Purdue.

Wisconsin’s Nigel Hayes scored 22 points, Bronson Koenig had 17 and Zak Showalter added 15. Ethan Happ fouled out with eight points, more than six points below his average for the Badgers.

Michigan State went on an 11-1 run midway through the second half, building a 12-point lead that it was able to maintain unlike a big lead in the first half.

In the first half, the Spartans led 36-23 only to allow the Badgers to come back with a 15-4 run to pull within a point at halftime.

Michigan State’s Cassius Winston had 10 points and eight assists and Joshua Langford had nine points.

In the last game of the season at Breslin Center, senior guard Eron Harris checked in late in the game a little more than a week after he had a season-ending knee injury. Harris, with a brace on his right knee, went to center court and kissed the Spartan logo to follow a senior tradition Shawn Respert started in 1995.

BIG PICTURE

Wisconsin: The Badgers have been shooting poorly and it is catching up with them. They were held to 43.1 percent shooting against Michigan State, a ninth straight game of connecting on 44 percent or fewer of their shots. They made 13 of 25 free throws at Michigan State after shooting 67 and 57 percent from the line the previous two games.

Michigan State: The Spartans are surging at the right time and are gaining confidence perhaps allowing them to position themselves for better seeding at the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments.

POLL IMPLICATONS

With Wisconsin’s losses at Michigan State and Ohio State, the Badgers will likely plummet from No. 16 in The Associated Press poll on Monday.

UP NEXT

Wisconsin: The Badgers end the regular season at home, hosting Iowa on Thursday night and Minnesota on Sunday.

Michigan State: The Spartans close on the road, playing Illinois on Wednesday night and No. 24 Maryland on Saturday.

More AP college basketball at http://collegebasketball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

Update: Creighton’s Watson turns himself into police

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JANUARY 31: Injured guard Maurice Watson Jr. of the Creighton Bluejays looks on during the game against the Butler Bulldogs at Hinkle Fieldhouse on January 31, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Creighton defeated Butler 76-67. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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Update: Later Sunday, Watson turned himself into the Douglas County Jail, a law enforcement official told the Omaha World-Herald. Watson’s attorney told the paper that Watson was driving back to Omaha from his native Philadelphia and was slowed by the snowstorm that hit parts of the country this week.

Law enforcement has been unable to arrest Creighton guard Maurice Watson since a warrant for his arrest on the charge first-degree sexual assault was issued last week, according to police.

“The U.S. Marshals Service and the Omaha Police Fugitive Unit continue to look for Mr. Watson,” Omaha Police said in a statement Sunday. “At this point in time, Mr. Watson is dodging law enforcement efforts to arrest him.

“Until he is located and arrested by law enforcement, or turns himself in, the entire Douglas County Court system is operating off of Mr. Watson’s time frame.

“Neither OPD nor the Douglas County Attorney’s Office is part of any specific arrangements for Mr. Watson to turn himself in.”

Watson was accused by a 19-year-old acquaintance, who reportedly is also a Creighton student, of sexual assault in the bathroom of an Omaha residence around 3 a.m. on Feb. 4. A report was filed later that day.

The point guard was in the midst of a banner season for the Bluejays before he tore his ACL in January, which ended his collegiate career. Creighton announced on Feb. 13 he was suspended from the team and not allowed to participate in senior night act due to  “alleged actions that are contrary to university policies and core values.”

The warrant for his arrest was issued Thursday.

 

Seventh-ranked Louisville dominates Syracuse

Rick Pitino
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The hint arrived early that Louisville might be no kind of matchup for Syracuse when the Cardinals jumped out to a quick 11-2 lead. The Orange, though, appeared to steady and seemed intent on delivering an interesting Sunday afternoon and a maybe another resume-changing win after beating Duke earlier in the week as the roared back to take a lead.

Everyone should have taken the early hint.

Louisville used a 21-4 first-half run to gain separation and never looked back as the Cardinals dominated Syracuse, 88-68, on Saturday afternoon at the KFC Yum! Center.

The win was the fourth in five games for Louisville, which shot 56.9 percent from the floor and held the Orange to 35.7 percent shooting.

Donovan Mitchell was sensational, going for 25 points on 9 of 16 shooting, including 6 of 10 from deep, while also grabbing five rebounds and dishing out four assists. It was his third-straight game with at least 20 points.  He also had an absolutely dynamic one-handed alley-oop late that was just fantastic.

The Cardinals showed no ill effects of a hangover stemming from the loss earlier this week at North Carolina, but instead it was as dominant a performance as they’ve had in weeks.

On the losing side of the ledger are the Orange, who looked to be building some momentum after a three-game losing streak by beating Duke on Wednesday. Then, the Blue Devils went and lost to Miami and Syracuse just got smashed by another ACC contender. That doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence.

For Syracuse, it looks destined to spend another Selection Sunday sweating, though there’s certainly enough time for it to go either way. The Orange can really only hurt themselves until the ACC tournament with Georgia Tech heading to the Carrier Dome this week. That’s a game Syracuse will need to win, lest they really want the pressure ratcheted up in Brooklyn.

A big part of the issue for Syracuse pinning its hopes on the ACC tournament is its total lack of depth. Tyler Lydon and Andrew White both went at least 40 minutes for the 11- and 10-straight games, respectively. Syracuse played seven and got 28 minutes total from its bench.

With a few days typically between days, that’s pretty sustainable for the regular season, but those minutes are sure to weigh on players going on back-to-back (and maybe longer) days.

#POSTERIZED: Donovan Mitchell caps Cards win with an oop

LOUISVILLE, KY - JANUARY 19:  Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Louisville Cardinals reacts after making a three point shot to end the first half against the Clemson Tigers at KFC YUM! Center on January 19, 2017 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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Louisville used a huge first-half run to pull away from Syracuse, and a Donovan Mitchell slam to put the icing on the cake.

The Cardinals sophomore caught a pass one-handed and seamlessly threw it home to deliver the signature moment of Louisville’s 88-68 win over the Orange on Saturday