The Morning Mix: Today is the day

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Today is the day we’ve been waiting months for. Real, live, meaningful college basketball takes place today for the first time since Kentucky cut down the nets in New Orleans. We’ll keep it brief today with the Morning Mix because there will be so much going on. Make sure to keep refreshing the College Basketball Talk homepage today.

Top Stories:
Which is the best team in “The Triangle“?: Apparently the resurgence of North Carolina State has forced a name change from “Tobacco Road” to “The Triangle”. Nonetheless, the College Basketball Talk writers discuss their thoughts.

Welcome to #NBCtheLeague: The College Basketball Talk writers are testing their fantasy wits in the college hoops realm. Take a look at the rosters and team names.

College Basketball Talk writers pick major conference winners: Indiana and Creighton were the only unanimous picks. Kansas, Drexel, Memphis, and Gonzaga received five out of six votes. Raphielle Johnson was the only writer to go “chalk”.

Preseason Wooden Award top-50 watch list released: Louisville is the only team to place three players, and the list of notable snubs is almost nonexistent

Kentucky donates $500,00 to Superstorm Sandy relief efforts: There is not a coach in the country who better utilizes his stature to benefit the university and the community than John Calipari. The Kentucky head coach held a telethon on Wednesday night in order to raise funds for the relief efforts.
Hoops Housekeeping:
– Florida guard Scottie Wilbekin will be suspended for the Carrier Classic against Georgetown (Orlando Sentinel)

– Cleveland State has given head coach Gary Waters a seven-year extension (Cleveland Plain-Dealer)

– USC is going to need all the help they can get this season, and it seems as though they got some. 7-foot Rice-transfer Omar Oraby was cleared by the NCAA and will be able to participate right away (ESPN)

– Kansas freshman Landen Lucas will sit out the season-opener as is in the process of deciding if he wants to redshirt or not (
Observations & Analysis:
– Gary Parrish looks ahead to what should be a tremendous opening weekend for college hoops (CBS Sports)

– 68 predictions for the college basketball season that are bound to come true (Yahoo Sports)

– Jeff Goodman tells us there are ten things we need to know before we head into the 2012-2013 season (CBS Sports)

– TCU has had almost no basketball success in the past two decades. But with Trent Johnson at the helm of the Horn Frogs, a new era of hoops is on the horizon (Dallas Star-Telegram)
Video of the Day:
Our pals Vin Parise and Eric Kuselias from NBC Sport Talk provide a preview of the first weekend of college hoops

This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
The ten year-old brother of former-Washington Redskin Sean Taylor (R.I.P) is going to be a beast some day. (The Big Lead)

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)

As good as they’ve been, No. 3 Michigan State has yet to play their best

Bryn Forbes, Ryan Fazekas
Associated Press
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Sunday night’s Wooden Legacy title game matchup between No. 3 Michigan State and Providence was billed as a matchup of the nation’s two best players, and rightfully so. Michigan State senior Denzel Valentine (17 points, six rebounds, five assists), who already has two triple-doubles to his credit this season, and Providence redshirt junior Kris Dunn (21 points, five rebounds, seven assists) have more than lived up to the preseason expectations and more of the same was expected in Anaheim.

And while both had their moments, it was Michigan State’s supporting cast that made the difference in their 77-64 victory. The scary thing for future opponents on Michigan State’s schedule is that Tom Izzo’s team is nowhere near being a finished product.

With Valentine dealing with first-half foul trouble Bryn Forbes stepped up, scoring 13 of his 18 points to help the Spartans take a two-point lead into the half. As for the 11-0 run that Michigan State produced to take control of the game late, a host of players stepped forward in regards to scoring, rebounding and defending.

Freshmen Deyonta Davis and Matt McQuaid combined to score nine points over the final 5:32, with transfer guard Eron Harris adding six of his 12 points during that stretch. The Spartans outscored the Friars, who aren’t as deep, 22-7 during that stretch to close out the game, hunting for quality shots and hitting the offensive glass while making things difficult for Providence on the other end of the floor.

The end result was a final margin that does not indicate just how close the game was. While Providence seemed to run out of steam Michigan State received contributions from multiple players, which is undoubtedly a good sign for this group moving forward.

The Spartans will return the currently injured Gavin Schilling later this season, giving them another big man alongside Davis, Matt Costello and Colby Wollenman. He was a player they missed Sunday night, as he can defend opposing big men both in the post and on the perimeter. His absence was a main reason Michigan State didn’t have an answer for Providence’s Ben Bentil (20 points, seven rebounds) defensively.

The key for this group is going to end up being role definition, which is especially true in the case of Harris. A transfer from West Virginia, Harris came to East Lansing with the reputation of being a big time scorer. He’s struggled through the first two weeks of the season, but he got on a roll on Sunday night, finishing with 12 points, three boards and three assists. He showed he’s capable of doing a variety of things on the perimeter, and fitting into a “Swiss army knife” kind of role would make Michigan State that much more dangerous.

There’s no denying that Michigan State has been one of the nation’s best teams thus far.

But there’s also no denying that the Spartans have yet to hit their ceiling, which is definitely a positive moving forward.

Wichita State’s Anton Grady returns home with team

AP Photo/Willie J. Allen Jr.
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Wichita State forward Anton Grady was released from a hospital in Orlando on Sunday afternoon in time to return home with his Shocker teammates.

Grady suffered a spinal corn concussion on Friday when he collided head-first with an Alabama defender, snapping his head sharply to the side. He lay on the court motionless for 10 minutes after the injury and was taken off the floor on a stretcher.

[RELATED: Can WSU still make tourney?]

“I want to send out a big thank you to Shocker Nation and all of my friends and family for of the love and encouragement that I have received the past few days,” Grady said in a statement on Sunday morning. “I’ve been reading your tweets and posts and appreciate every last one of them. I have a lot of work to do to get back on the court, but with the help of such a great support system, I’m ready for the challenge.”

By Friday night, Grady had feeling in all of his extremities, but he has a long road of rehab ahead of him.