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 (KUsports.com)
 
 
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)

Grand Canyon lands Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson

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Grand Canyon landed an important piece for its NCAA tournament push on Saturday night as Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson pledged to the Antelopes.

The 6-foot-3 Benson will be eligible right away as spent the past three seasons with the Ducks as a key reserve guard, helping Oregon to multiple deep NCAA tournament runs. Benson picked Grand Canyon over Wisconsin for his final season of college basketball as Benson’s brother, T.J., is an assistant coach with the Antelopes.

Benson shot 40 percent from three-point range last season while also being a steady ball handler over the course of his career at Oregon as he has only 81 career turnovers in over 2,600 career minutes with the Ducks. While Benson wasn’t asked to score a lot for a loaded Oregon team that featured multiple bucket-getters, he could be asked to do more at Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon is eligible for the NCAA tournament for the first time next season as the addition of Benson gives them an experienced guard who should be more of a factor in the WAC. The Antelopes are coming off of a 22-9 season in which they finished 11-3 in conference play.

With great facilities and a quickly-growing fan base, head coach Dan Majerle has the potential makings of a perennial mid-major conference contender if he continues to recruit well to Grand Canyon.

Colorado adds commitment from Class of 2017 point guard McKinley Wright

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Colorado landed one of the best available point guards for next season on Friday as Class of 2017 floor general McKinley Wright committed during an official visit.

A former Dayton commit who opted out of his recruitment after former head coach Archie Miller took the Indiana job, Wright was one of the best available point guards left as he played last weekend on the adidas Gauntlet in front of college coaches with D1 Minnesota.

The 6-foot-0 Wright gives the Buffaloes another ball handler and distributor as he was Minnesota’s Mr. Basketball during this past season. As a senior, Wright averaged 22.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game.

It’s always hard to say if spring recruits who elevate a level in recruiting after decommitting are making the correct decision, but Wright looked the part of a high-major lead guard last weekend, and Colorado wasn’t the only high-major program that was pushing hard to add Wright at this late stage.

Oral Roberts to hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills

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Oral Roberts has found its new head coach as they will hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills, as first reported by NBCSports.com’s Rob Dauster.

Mills had been on staff with the Bears since 2003 as he’s been a big factor in why head coach Scott Drew has been able to turn around that program. A graduate of Texas A&M, Mills has been a full-time assistant at Baylor since the 2009 season.

“I am honored to accept this role of representing this historic institution, its students and its mission,” Mills said in a release. “Making this commitment today is a highlight of my career and I look forward with excitement to the basketball season directly ahead. Go Golden Eagles.”

Mills will replace former head coach Scott Sutton, who was relieved of his duties this offseason after 18 years at the helm.

 

Iowa commit Connor McCaffery to redshirt in basketball to pursue baseball

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Iowa commit Connor McCaffery is in a unique spot when he starts his freshman year in Iowa City next year.

Not only is the 6-foot-4 guard the son of basketball head coach Fran McCaffery, while being a four-star national basketball prospect, but Connor also has a bright future in baseball.

There was a lot of speculation as to what Connor might do for his future in athletics and he gave more clarification on what he might be looking to do on Friday.

McCaffery has decided to redshirt in basketball next season to focus on the beginnings of his baseball career at Iowa. A walk-on for both sports, the move enables Connor McCaffery to potentially play three years of basketball with his younger brother, Patrick, who is also a heralded basketball recruit for Iowa. This move also gives Connor the best chance to pursue both sports while he’ll also help out a young Iowa basketball team with its tough scholarship scenario.

Butler, Chris Holtmann agree to a contract extension

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Butler has agreed to a contract extension with head coach Chris Holtmann, the school announced on Friday, that will keep him under contract through 2025.

“Butler truly is a special place, and my family and I are thankful to be part of a great academic institution and an athletics department that is a source of pride for those who embrace Butler and The Butler Way,” said Holtmann. “Our student-athletes, our staff, and so many throughout our campus are remarkable at what they do, and I’m excited to continue to work alongside them.”

Holtmann was named Big East Coach of the Year after leading the Bulldogs to a 25-9 record and a spot in the Sweet 16. In three years with the program, Holtmann has a record of 70-31.

“Chris is a tremendous ambassador for Butler and the Butler Way, and his leadership has resulted in success both on and off the court for the talented young men in our program,” said Butler Vice President/Director of Athletics Barry Collier. “This commitment – both by our university and by Chris – allows the momentum within our program to continue.”

Holtmann was in the mix for a couple of jobs this spring, including N.C. State and Missouri.