The Morning Mix

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We’re eight hours in to Marathon Madness, and we’ve retained most of our sanity thus far. If you’re up for the challenge, there’s a basketball game on TV/your computer right now. Here’s what’s going on in today’s Morning Mix:

 

Tuesday’s Top Games:
6:00 a.m. – Stony Brook @ Rider
8:00 a.m. – Northern Illinois @ Valparaiso
10:00 a.m. – Harvard @ Massachusetts
12:00 p.m. – Temple @ Kent State
2:00 p.m. – Detroit @ St. John’s
4:00 p.m. – Butler @ Xaiver
7:00 p.m. – Vermont at No.23 Connecticut
7:00 p.m. – No.14 Michigan State vs. No.7 Kansas
7:00 p.m. – UNC-Wilmington @ Richmond
7:00 p.m. – George Mason @ Bucknell
7:00 p.m. – Wichita State @ VCU
9:00 p.m. – Lehigh @ Pittsburgh
9:30 p.m. – No.8 Duke vs. No.3 Kentucky
9:30 p.m. – Long Beach State @ USC

 

Top Stories:
New Mexico outlasts Davidson in a shootout at The Pit: The Lobos and Wildcats engaged in an early season “Game of the Year” candidate at The Pit. Davidson got out to a large first half lead, but Kendall Williams and Tony Snell led the Lobos back, and Wildcats did not have the endurance to keep up the pace.

Gonzaga’s talented depth stifles West Virginia: In the opening game of Marathon Madness, Gonzaga showed why they’re expected to make a run at the Final Four by stifling a sloppy Mountaineers squad 84-50.

LIU-Brooklyn falls to 0-2: The Blackbirds are the reigning NEC champions and have the talent and experience to dominate inferior competition. But the squad struggled to defend in the first two games of the season, and the loss of head coach Jim Ferry is starting to show on the court

Youngstown State topples Georgia, moves to 2-0: The mighty Penguins of Youngstown State outclassed the Georgia Bulldogs 68-56 in the first round of the Progressive Legends Classic. With the win, YSU moves to 2-0, having defeated George Washington over the weekend.

Dayton keeps “First Four”, MSG gets regional site: The NCAA announced on Monday that Dayton will continue to serve host to the opening round until 2014-2015. additionally, Madison Square Garden will serve as a regional host for the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 53 years.

Kentucky guard Ryan Harrow sick, will not travel for Champions Classic: Kentucky point guard Ryan Harrow, who struggled in the season-opener against Maryland, is battling the flu, and will not travel with the team to Atlanta for the Champions Classic. The Wildcats will have to rely on walk-on Jarrod Polson to handle the point against Duke, but the junior played admirably in the season-opener.

 

Observations & Analysis:
– Speaking of creative places to hold basketball games, here’s a solid list of ten places college hoops needs to go to next. (The College Court)

– Worst loss of the day goes to North Texas, who lost to Alabama-Huntsville (D-II) 78-75 in the opening round of the N.I.T. Preseason Tip-Off (The Dagger)

– Doug Gottlieb made four snap judgements from the first weekend in college hoops (Eye on College Basketball)

– All five starters for the Memphis Tigers last night are hometown kids. Something like this does not happen frequently, especially not for a city like Memphis (ESPN)

– After two games in four days, it’s easy to see why Mark Turgeon is confident that his Terrapins squad has the talent and depth to be a force this season (Washington Post)

 

Odds & Ends:
– Wichita isn’t the sexiest location on the map, but it’s a great tournament venue and should not have been snubbed from the 2014-2015 NCAA Tournament. (KFDI FM 101.3)

– The best pictures from the first weekend of college hoops (Eye on College Basketball)

– Despite negative reviews, the Carrier Classic is going to continue in 2013 (ESPN)

– Kentucky freshman Willie Cauley-Stein doesn’t know who Christian Laettner is, never seen video of “The Shot” (The Dagger)

– This is exactly why we ranked St. Joseph’s Ronald Roberts as one of the top-10 dunkers in the country (Philahoops.com)

– After vocalizing his displeasure sitting on the bench, Pittsburgh guard John Johnston has decided to transfer (Cardiac Hill)

 

Tweet of the Day:

@RobDauster: Tony Snell played high school ball with Kawhi Leonard, meaning that team undoubtedly led their conference in lanky arms and cornrows.


Video of the Day:

Red Hot Chilli Pepper’s bassist Flea performed the National Anthem at the opening of the new Pauley Pavillon

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)

Arizona lands first commitment in 2017 class

Alex Barcello (Jon Lopez/Nike)
(Jon Lopez/Nike)
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Arizona landed their first commitment in the Class of 2017 on Friday night as point guard Alex Barcello pledged to Sean Miller and the Wildcats.

Barcello is a 6-foot-2 point guard from Tempe who plays his high school ball for Corona del Sol. He committed to the Wildcats on an official visit to the Tucson campus.

Barcello is a borderline top 100 prospect who sits at No. 123 in the Rivals top 150. He’s known for his ability to shoot, and he’s more of a combo-guard — i.e. shoot-first — than a point guard at times, but he’s a nice pickup and projects as a solid four-year player for the Wildcats.

Virginia, Indiana, Stanford and Butler were the other four schools on Barcello’s list.

Duke lands first commitment in 2017 class

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Alex O’Connell knew exactly where he wanted to play his college ball, which is why, just two days after picking up an offer from Coach K and the Blue Devils, he became Duke’s first recruit in the Class of 2017.

O’Connell announced the on twitter on Friday afternoon:

O’Connell is a four-star prospect from Georgia that had a terrific summer, going from being a borderline top 75 prospect to a player that caught the interest of Duke, who, along with Kentucky, sit atop the college recruiting hierarchy. He’s an explosively athletic and lanky 6-foot-6 wing with three-point range on his jumper. He needs to add some weight and some strength — he’s listed as a crisp 175 pounds — but he has the tools, and the swagger, to develop into a very effective player in the ACC.

Is he a one-and-done prospect?

Probably not. In fact, since 2010, Duke has landed just two players that were rated lower than O’Connell: Antonio Vrankovic and Jack White. If you know who both of them are, you’re probably either Jon Scheyer or lying.

But what O’Connell is is a kid who put in the work to get better this past year and who has the skill set, the physical tools and work ethic to continue to improve. He may not be on Grayson Allen’s trajectory, but O’Connell has the makings of being an impact player for the Blue Devils for three or four years.

Alex O'Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)
Alex O’Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)

Shaka Smart lands contract extension at Texas

Texas head coach Shaka Smart instructs his team in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Baylor on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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Shaka Smart has already landed himself a contract extension at Texas.

The school, according to the Austin American-Statesman, has given Shaka a one-year extension — through the 2022-23 season — and bumped his salary up to a cool $3 million, a raise of $100,000 annually.

Smart’s Longhorns went 20-13 last season and lost on a half court buzzer beater from Northern Iowa’s Paul Jespersen. It will be tough for Smart to match the success that he had last season, specifically because he lost senior point guard Isaiah Taylor to the professional ranks.

That said, the former VCU head man has been reeling in quite a bit of talent from the state of Texas — namely, Andrew Jones and Jarrett Allen — and is not all that far from turning the Longhorns back into a relevant member of the Big 12 title race.

Arizona and Texas headline Lone Star Shootout

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 17:  Head coach Sean Miller of the Arizona Wildcats reacts in the first half against the Wichita State Shockers during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 17, 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
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Another marquee, early season event is on the books for the college basketball season as four potential tournament teams will be squaring off at the Toyota Center in Houston on Dec. 17th.

The highlight of the double-header, which has been dubbed the Lone Star Shootout, will probably end up being Arizona vs. Texas A&M. The Wildcats are a Pac-12 contender and a borderline top 10 team as we enter the season, and while the Aggies will have work to do replacing the seniors they lost off of last season’s roster, they’re a borderline top 25 team.

The other matchup will feature a pair of former Southwest Conference rivals facing off in Texas and Arkansas. Texas will be talented but young while Arkansas may actually have the best player on the floor in Moses Kingsley. What will make this matchup interesting is that both Mike Anderson and Shaka Smart are known for being coaches that prefer a full court pressing system.

“We are extremely excited about the opportunity to play in front of our fans at the Toyota Center in Houston,” Texas head coach Shaka Smart said in a statement. “It is one of the most important areas in this state as it relates to our recruiting and fan base.

Five-star 2017 guard Lonnie Walker cuts list to five schools

Men's U18 trials head shots and team photo on 6.15.16
Bart Young/USA Basketball
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Five-star shooting guard Lonnie Walker is coming off of a very good summer as he trimmed his list to five schools on Thursday night.

The 6-foot-4 native of Reading, Pennsylvania is still considering Arizona, Kentucky, Miami, Syracuse and Villanova, he announced on Twitter.

Regarded as the No. 26 overall prospect in the Class of 2017, Walker played with Team Final in the Nike EYBL this spring and summer as he averaged 16.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. Walker shot 45 percent from the field, 39 percent from three-point range and 72 percent from the free-throw line.

An efficient scorer who is learning to drive with both hands, Walker is very talented and the type of guard who might also be able to handle a bit as well.