The Morning Mix

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We’re only just 72 hours away from the beginning of college basketball season. The anticipation is palpable.

 

#ReadoftheDay: ESPN’s Jason King on the landscape of college hoops in 2012 and how it looks similar to the landscape in the 1980s. Read it. (ESPN)

 

Top Stories:

What top-25 team will miss the NCAA Tournament?: Our tremendous crew of @CBTonNBC writers explain their thoughts on which preseason top-25 team has the best chance of missing the NCAA tournament. Check  the homepage later for Today’s installment.

What team outside the top-25 has the best chance to make the Final Four?: Everybody has penciled in Indiana, Kentucky and Louisville. But this season’s Final Four, maybe more than ever, could feature a team well outside the preseason top-25.

Kentucky guard Julius Mays survived an injury scare in Wildcat’s’ exhibition win over Transylvania: The fifth-year senior transfer from Wright State knocked knees with a Pioneer’s player midway through the second half. Mays left the game and did not return, but no significant damage was done. You may remember back to a month ago when Nerlens Noel nearly rolled his ankle during a Big Blue Madness pep rally. Seems like Calipari dodged yet another bullet.

Is Georges Niang the next Doug McDermott?: Iowa State freshman forward Georges Niang spent last season battling Nerlens Noel during practice at The Tilton School in New Hampshire. While Niang is undersized at 6-foot-7, has the elite game-IQ and superior skills that will remind Cyclone fans of Ames’ native son Doug McDermott.

 

Hoops Housekeeping:

– Marquette got terrible, horrible, no good, very bad news on Monday. Turns out that potential breakout star Todd Mayo, the younger brother of Dallas Maverick’s star O.J. Mayo, was ruled academically ineligible by the NCAA and will have to sit out the entire season. That’s a major loss for a team already looking to replace both Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom. (Paint Touches)

– Michigan recruit Austin Hatch, who was seriously injured in a 2011 plane crash that killed his father and stepmother has been cleared by doctors to participate in high school practice. It is still uncertain if he will be able to participate in games. Awesome news nonetheless. (MLive.com)

– Arkansas’ sophomore guard B.J Young is expected by many (As you will read later) to be one of the nation’s top guards this season. But he will have to sit out the first two games of the season (Arkansas Democrat-Republic)

– Syracuse added their first recruit from the class of 2014 in 6-foot-8 Chris McCullough (Syracuse Post-Standard)

– During a Q&A session on Monday, Rick Pitino revealed that Louisville freshman center Mangok Mathiang was denied eligibility by the NCAA and will redshirt the season (Cardinal Authority)

– Highly touted class of 2014 forward Dakari Johnson has decided to reclassify to 2013, joining the likes of Andrew Wiggins, Wayne Seldon and Noah Vonleh (SNY.tv)

 

Observations & Analysis:

– Missouri’s Phil “Flip” Pressey was the preseason pick for SEC Player of the Year, but could a much less heralded guard end up hoisting the award at the end of the season? (Sports Illustrated)

– Jeff “Two Scoops” Goodman provides a 2013 NBA mock draft. Clearly Goodman and the CBS guys have run the well dry of season preview posts (CBS Sports)

– Northwestern gets all the publicity, but William & Mary has made the NCAA tournament just as many times as the Wildcats. Zero. But will the tide change for the Tribe in 2012-13? (College Chalktalk)

– In case you forgot, the Loyola Greyhounds represented the MAAC in the NCAA tournament last season and find themselves as league favorites, a position the program has been held in nearly 20 years (Baltimore Sun)

– Much of North Carolina State’s success will depend on the production provided by the team’s star players. But in order for guys like C.J. Leslie and Rodney Purvis to be productive, they will need to master Mark Gottfried’s variation of “the UCLA high post offense”. (Backing the Pack)

– The season has not even begun yet, but it’s pretty evident that Minnesota’s Tubby Smith and Northwestern’s Bill Carmody appear to be on the coaching hot seat. Depending on what happens between November and April, Jon Beilein, Tom Crean and John Groce could join them (Rush The Court)

– With Moe Harkless in the NBA, St. John’s must rely heavily on the performance of sophomore guard D’Angelo Harrison (New York Daily News)

– I guarantee this will be the most you read about Youngstown State all season. But since this is a season preview, this will last you until April. Well, more like early March since the Penguins have never made the postseason as a Division-I member (Horizon League Hoops)

 

Odds & Ends:

– This is the longest Q&A session you will ever read. But since it’s in the words of Marquette head coach Buzz Williams, I highly recommend you read it. Buzz is never not entertaining. (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

– Somebody actually values Rob Dauster’s opinion of the Florida State Seminoles. I’m shocked. I only value Rob’s opinion when it comes to bar food and the best formations to use in FIFA ’12 (Tomahawk Nation)

– A rather entertaining season preview for the Atlantic-10. Language somewhat NSFW. (Blackburn Review)

– A quick preview of the favorites to win each of the 13 major conferences (The Back Iron)

– Here is close to 9,000 words previewing the Big Sky Conference. Make sure you give some of it a read. Eastern Washington and Montana should be fun to watch this season. (Big Sky Basketball)

– In case you forgot how the Colorado Buffaloes won the Pac-12 last year, here’s a very solid review of 2011-2012 (The Ralphie Report)

– Eight teams will unveil special camouflage uniforms on Friday as part of the four military appreciation games (The Dagger)

– Tonight’s exhibition game between St. John’s and Concordia is being endorsed by the Johnnies student section as “Dress like Lavin night”. Phenomenal. (Sweet, Sweet Lavin)

 

Video(s) of the Day:

Doug Wojcik enters his first season as head coach at College of Charleston and will lean heavily on senior Andrew Lawrence and talented big-man Adjehi Baru. Here’s what went down at the school’s “Maroon Madness” event over the weekend. (College of Charleston Hoops)

 

Players from Arkansas-Little Rock are not happy about their 2011-2012 Sun Belt Tournament exit against Western Kentucky. Can you say “Bulletin board material”? (Burn The Horse)

Do you like the new Morning Mix? Hate it? Have a suggestion or wanted something featured? Troy Machir will take all your praise, insults and inquiries via Twitter (@TroyMachir)

UConn-Syracuse rivalry game brings back memories of the best of the Big East

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 05:  Rodney Purvis #15 of the Connecticut Huskies reacts after hitting a three pointer against the Syracuse Orange during the Tire Pros Classic at Madison Square Garden on December 5, 2016 in New York City. Connecticut defeated Syracuse 52-50  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Mike Stobe/Getty Images
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The cliché ‘here, it just means more’ has never rang more true than it did on Monday night in Madison Square Garden.

A bad Syracuse team and a worse UConn team got together in New York City to play an awful basketball game, one where the two teams didn’t crack 100 points combined until there were 2.2 seconds left; where UConn won 52-50 despite shooting 31.4 percent from the floor because the Orange made just 25.9 percent of their field goals; where UConn did everything they could in the final minute to give the game to the Orange, including missing five free throws.

In a game between two teams that entered with a combined 8-6 record, Syracuse and UConn fans packed the Garden and created an environment that was just as rowdy, raucous and bi-partisan as a Big East tournament quarterfinal game that goes to six overtimes.

Businessmen in $5,000 suits were court side, going just as crazy as the UConn fans that packed their student section. Day-traders showed up in Orange t-shirts over their shirt and ties.

It didn’t matter that the Orange entered the game on a two-game losing streak. It didn’t matter UConn, a young team that has already lost two starters to season-ending injury, looks like a team that will be lucky to earn an invite to the NIT.

It never matters when these two former Big East rivals get together in the Basketball Mecca.

“It may be a slap in the face,” said Larry Avitabile, a Connecticut native that now calls Manhattan home, “but I hope UConn shows up as a bad loss when they show Syracuse’s NCAA tournament résumé.”


The rivalry between UConn and Syracuse is unlike any other rivalry in college basketball because of their proximity to New York City and Madison Square Garden, where the Big East has held their conference tournament since 1983.

Both fanbases claim the Big Apple as their own. Both schools consider themselves New York City’s college basketball team. None of the schools that left the Big East and none of the programs still in the conference traveled to the Garden the way that UConn and Syracuse travel to the Garden.

And the result is what you saw on Monday night.

Half of the Garden was blue.

The other half was Orange.

It simply does not get better than that.

Every season, one of the biggest talking points this time of the year is how neutral site games sterilize what makes college basketball special: the energy that comes with playing a game in front of a home crowd. The product on the court is never going to be as good as the product on the floor of any NBA game. That’s a fact of life when the best players at this level are 19 year olds a couple of years away from being able to impact an NBA game or 22 year olds that weren’t quite good enough to be able to make the jump to the pros.

And basketball at any level is never going to be a more popular than the NFL or college football. Unless you live in places like Lexington or Lawrence, college basketball probably isn’t even as important as the MLB or the NHL.

But those big, on-campus games are unparalleled in any sport at any level in this country. The experience of watching, say, UCLA’s visit to Rupp Arena on Saturday or North Carolina’s trip to Assembly Hall last week comes through on the television broadcasts.

When UConn and Syracuse square off in the Garden, it’s like two teams are playing a home game in the building.

“It’s New York City, it’s one of the best venues to play basketball in, it’s on everybody’s bucket list,” said Syracuse guard Andrew White. “Then, given the teams that were here, and the location, you’re dipping into history. This venue and this game is one of the tops all-time.”

White is a fifth-year senior that spent the last four seasons playing for Kansas in the Big 12 and Nebraska in the Big Ten. He’s seen it all. He’s played in the most electric college gyms. He knows what constitutes a great place to play a basketball game.

“I knew what to expect,” said White, who hails from southern Virginia. “I knew what I was getting into coming into this game. It’s Syracuse and UConn at the Garden. Say no more.”

College basketball needs all the games like this that it can get. It’s why those two programs would be doing a disservice to the sport if they decide to discontinue the series after the 2017 Jimmy V Classic, when they will play in the Garden for the second straight season.

Because UConn has too much talent and Kevin Ollie recruits at too high of a level to be down for that long. The Orange are just a year removed from getting to the Final Four and have plenty of young talent of their own on the roster.

Those programs will return to their rightful spots in the top 25 sooner rather than later.

And if those two fanbases can turn one of the ugliest games of the season into what we experienced in the arena on Monday night, imagine what it will be like in that building when those two teams are actually good.

 

Eastern Kentucky basketball player charged with rape

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RICHMOND, Ky. (AP) Authorities say an Eastern Kentucky basketball player has been arrested on a rape charge.

Records at Kentucky’s Madison County Detention Center show 23-year-old Jaylen Babb-Harrison was arrested Sunday in Richmond and charged with first-degree rape.

A statement from Eastern Kentucky says Babb-Harrison, a redshirt senior guard, has been suspended from the team. It says the school is cooperating with police.

Local media organizations cited an arrest citation in reporting that police were called to a Richmond hospital when a female reported she was at Babb-Harrison’s home and that he had sex with her against her will.

WKYT-TV reports Babb-Harrison declined to be interviewed at a jail. His first court appearance is set for Wednesday.

Online jail records didn’t list an attorney for the player.

Judge dismisses sex charges against ex-Michigan State star

3 Apr 2000: Mateen Cleaves #12 of the Michigan State Spartans celebrates on the floor as he holds up the trophy after winning the NCAA Men''s Finals Four Game against the Florida Gators at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Spartans defeated the Gators 89-76.
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FLINT, Mich. (AP) A judge has dismissed all charges against former Michigan State basketball star Mateen Cleaves, who was accused of sexually assaulting a woman after a charity golf event.

Judge Cathy Dowd in Flint, Michigan, said Monday there wasn’t enough evidence to send Cleaves to trial. Prosecutors can appeal.

A woman said she twice tried to get away from Cleaves but was pulled back into a motel room and sexually assaulted in September 2015. A witness confirmed that she saw the woman try to escape a room at the Knights Inn near Flint.

But a police officer said the woman never indicated that she was assaulted. Cleaves pleaded not guilty.

The Associated Press generally doesn’t name people who say they were sexually assaulted. Cleaves led Michigan State to the 2000 national championship.

Coaches Poll: Villanova takes the top spot

VILLANOVA, PA - DECEMBER 03: Kris Jenkins #2 of the Villanova Wildcats yells to his team in the first half against the Saint Joseph's Hawks at The Pavilion on December 3, 2016 in Villanova, Pennsylvania. The Villanova Wildcats defeated the Saint Joseph's Hawks 88-57. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
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Villanova has overtaken Kentucky as the new No. 1 in the Coaches Poll on Monday.

The defending champions also took No. 1 in the new AP poll thanks to an 8-0 start while UCLA beat Kentucky at Rupp Arena this weekend. The Bruins finished at No. 2 while Kansas and Duke are right behind them.

RANKINGS: AP Poll | NBC Sports Top 25

  1. Villanova (28)
  2. UCLA (1)
  3. Kansas (1)
  4. Duke (2)
  5. North Carolina
  6. Baylor
  7. Kentucky
  8. Gonzaga
  9. Indiana
  10. Creighton
  11. Saint Mary’s
  12. Virginia
  13. Louisville
  14. Xavier
  15. Butler
  16. West Virginia
  17. Wisconsin
  18. South Carolina
  19. Purdue
  20. Arizona
  21. Florida
  22. Notre Dame
  23. Cincinnati
  24. Oregon
  25. Iowa State

AP Poll: Defending champion Villanova is the new No. 1

LOUISVILLE, KY - MARCH 26:  Josh Hart #3 of the Villanova Wildcats reacts in the second half against the Kansas Jayhawks during the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament South Regional at KFC YUM! Center on March 26, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Josh Hart
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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The defending national champs are back at No. 1.

Villanova is atop the latest Associated Press top 25 poll this week as the 8-0 Wildcats are off to a hot start. With Kentucky’s loss to UCLA and North Carolina’s loss at Indiana there were some major shakeups in the polls this week.

  1. Villanova (57 first-place votes)
  2. UCLA (2)
  3. Kansas
  4. Baylor
  5. Duke
  6. Kentucky
  7. North Carolina
  8. Gonzaga
  9. Indiana
  10. Creighton
  11. Louisville
  12. Saint Mary’s
  13. Xavier
  14. Virginia
  15. West Virginia
  16. Butler
  17. Purdue
  18. Wisconsin
  19. South Carolina
  20. Arizona
  21. Florida
  22. Cincinnati
  23. Notre Dame
  24. Oregon
  25. Iowa State