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)

VIDEO: Kansas’ Carlton Bragg misses breakaway dunk

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There are few things more exciting in sports than a player dunking on a fast break.

There are few things funnier than a player flubbing that dunk.

Kansas’ Carlton Bragg proved that second point Monday in the second half of the No. 1 Jayhawks’ game at Allen Fieldhouse against Oklahoma.

There’s a strange beauty in that, isn’t there?

Motley plays big in No. 11 Baylor’s win over No. 10 West Virginia

Baylor forward Johnathan Motley (5) reacts to a play against Texas in first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017, in Waco, Texas. Baylor won 74-64. (Rod Aydelotte/Waco Tribune Herald via AP)
Rod Aydelotte/Waco Tribune Herald via AP
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Even as Baylor has floundered some down the stretch, the Bears have been able to count on Johnathan Motley being a monster. The 6-foot-10 forward has been putting up numbers and shooting up draft boards.

Against No. 10 West Virginia, he showed off all his skills – and it resulted in a win, as the 11th-ranked Bears topped the Mountaineers, 71-62, in Waco on Monday in a much-needed victory.

Motley was superb once again, going for 23 points, eight rebounds, three blocks and two assists in 35 minutes. He shot it well from the field, going 6 of 12, but was a perfect 11 of 11 from the free-throw line. It was a big-time performance, especially with point guard Manu Lecomte out with an ankle injury.

Monday was nothing particularly special in terms of performance from Motley as he’s been consistently great during Big 12 play. He had 27 and 11 against Iowa State and 21 and 16 against Oklahoma just last week alone. He’s been overshadowed some by Baylor’s early season success – the story was the Bears and coach Scott Drew, not Motley – and that Frank Mason is not only the no-doubt Big 12 player of the year, but maybe the frontrunner for the national award as well.

He’s been really, really good.

Motley is averaging just short of a double-double with 17.3 points and 9.8 rebounds along with 1.0 blocks per game. He’s not the double-double machine of Caleb Swanigan, but he’s got nine during Big 12 play. He also put up 32 points and 20 rebounds against Texas. There aren’t many better performances than that around the country.

Against the Mountaineers, Motley struggled some early, going 1 of 5 from the field with just four points in the first half. He made five of his next seven shots, though, and made nine second-half free throws to score 19 after the break to get Baylor in the win column after a three-losses-in-four-games stretch.

Jo Lual-Acuil rightfully gets a ton of credit for being the anchor of Baylor’s defense, but pairing the 7-footer with Motley is what makes the Bears’ defense so stout. Teams have an effective field goal percentage of just 44.8 against the Bears and are making just 43.8 percent of their shots inside the arc. The length of Lual-Acuil and Motley is a huge reason why.

The game was somewhat rare for West Virginia as the Mountaineers forced 18 turnovers, which was at a rate of 26.5 percent (better than their Big 12 average), and still lost. Some of it certainly can be attributed to the absence of forward Esa Ahmad, who was out with a back injury, but 3 of 15 shooting from 3-point range was a killer overall.

West Virginia and Baylor are jockeying with Iowa State for second place in the Big 12, but if everyone holds serve, it’ll be a three-way tie in the country’s toughest conference. If the Cyclones can win in Morgantown on Friday, though, Steve Prohm’s group will claim the spot outright. If West Virginia wins, the most likely scenario (assuming Baylor beats Texas) puts the Mountaineers second, Baylor third and Iowa State fourth for the tournament in Kansas City next week.

No. 23 Virginia holds No. 5 North Carolina to 43 points in statement win

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - FEBRUARY 27: Kyle Guy #5 of the Virginia Cavaliers shoots the ball during Virginia's game against the North Carolina Tar Heels at John Paul Jones Arena on February 27, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia. (Photo by Chet Strange/Getty Images)
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What a difference a week makes.

Just eight days ago, down in Chapel Hill, North Carolina handed Virginia the kind of whooping that changes the narrative of a season. The final score was 65-41, but that really doesn’t do it justice. At one point late in the second half, the Wahoos were trailing 63-36.

The story was totally different on Monday night.

Despite digging themselves a 7-0 hole in the first two minutes of the game, No. 23 Virginia knocked off No. 5 North Carolina, 53-43, in a revenge game. The Tar Heels haven’t been held to 43 points or less in a game since Feb. 24th, 1979, and that game came before the shot clock was introduced to college basketball. Dean Smith’s Tar Heels stalled for the entire first half, taking just two shots and heading into half time down 7-0.

They would eventually lose 47-40:

The previous low for points scored by a Roy Williams-coached UNC team was 45 points when they lost 57-45 at Syracuse on Jan. 11th, 2014.

That should give you an idea of just how impressive Virginia’s defense was on Monday night before you factor in that the Tar Heels are one of the nation’s top five offensive teams, according to KenPom. But they just never could get into any kind of a rhythm. Tony Bennett had them scouted to perfection, eliminating Kennedy Meeks from the game with his patented post-doubles and using London Perrantes to harass Justin Jackson for 40 minutes. Jackson never once looked comfortable, not for one possession.

With the loss, the Tar Heels now need to beat Duke in the season finale at the Dean Dome to win the outright ACC regular season title.

And while the attention for this win is going to be on UNC and their struggles, the real story here is Virginia.

UVA’s loss to UNC last Saturday was their third loss in a four-game losing streak. They snapped that streak against N.C. State over the weekend, and seemed to find their groove again on Monday. Their issue has never been on the defensive side of the ball; it’s their ability to score, and they may have found their cure: Kyle Guy. The kid with the top-knot that is incorrectly referred to as a man-bun by everyone. (Trust me on that.)

Guy had played just two minutes in the overtime loss to Miami earlier in the week and was just 1-for-10 from the floor in the previous three games, a stretch where UVA scored just 144 points in 125 minutes of basketball. He had 19 points in the win over N.C. State and 17 points on Monday night, hitting five threes and providing UVA with a go-to option offensively. He’s uniquely suited to playing the role that Malcolm Brogdon and Joe Harris have played because he’s a lights-out shooter with quick feet, a quick release and an ability to read defenses as a runs off of screens. His presence opens up their offense.

As long as he’s good enough defensively, he’ll be able to see the floor.

And if he’s good enough defensively, UVA can be good enough offensively to win games like this.

Prosecutors detail allegations against Creighton’s Watson

OMAHA, NE - JANUARY 21: Maurice Watson Jr. #10 of the Creighton Bluejays receives and ovation before their game against the Marquette Golden Eagles at CenturyLink Center on January 21, 2017 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
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Former Creighton star Maurice Watson appeared in front of a Douglas County judge Monday after turning himself into authorities Sunday following the issuance of a warrant for his arrest Thursday on the charge of first-degree sexual assault.

Watson’s bail was set at $750,000, which he would have to produce 10 percent of to be released from jail.

Prosecutors also detailed some of the allegations against Watson from the night of Feb. 3, when a 19-year-old woman alleges he raped her. Graphic details of the prosecution’s allegations can found here.

Watson’s attorneys said he denies the allegations.

Creighton said Sunday that Watson is barred from campus and not enrolled as a student, according to the Omaha World-Herald.  The Bluejays announced last week that Watson, who has been sidelined since tearing his ACL last month, had been suspended.

Coaches Poll: Gonzaga drops to fourth

Gonzaga head coach Mark Few (Getty Images)
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Gonzaga feel from first to fourth in the latest Coaches Poll after suffering its first loss of the season over the weekend.

Kansas moves into the top spot with UCLA and Villanova tied at No. 2.

The Bulldogs lost 79-71 to BYU at home after winning the first 29 games of the season.

The Jayhawks have won six-straight heading into Monday’s tilt with Oklahoma.

Here’s the full poll:

1. Kansas (23)

2. UCLA (3)

2. Villanova (5)

4. Gonzaga (1)

5. North Carolina

6. Oregon

7. Louisville

8. Arizona

9. Kentucky

10. West Virginia

11. Baylor

12. Florida

13. Notre Dame

14. Duke

15. Butler

16. Purdue

17. Florida State

18. Saint Mary’s

19. SMU

20. Cincinnati

21. Wisconsin

22. Wichita State

23. Virginia

24. Iowa State

25. Miami