The Morning Mix

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I hope you all enjoyed the Tip-Off Marathon. Today is a “Rest & Recovery” day. But here’s what’s going on in today’s Morning Mix:

Wednesday’s Top Games:
7:00 p.m. – St. Bonaventure’s @ Cornell (NBC Sports Network)
7:00 p.m. – No.22 Wisconsin @ No.10 Florida
8:00 p.m. – Santa Clara @ Saint Louis
8:00 p.m. – Toledo @ Northern Iowa
8:00 p.m. – Western Illinois @ SIU-Edwardsville
8:05 p.m. – UAB @ N0.15 Creighton

 

Top Stories:
Wichita State able to outlast VCU’s havoc, grabs hard-fought 53-51 win: In a rematch of last season’s NCAA tournament first round game, the Shockers of Wichita State were able to overcome the intense pressure of VCU’s patented “HAVOC” defense. Oregon-transfer Malcolm Armstead hit a jumper with 3.8 seconds left in the second half to give the Shockers a solid road win.

Lackluster performance against Xavier raises concerns about Butler Bulldogs: Butler’s offense struggled to click in the 62-47 loss to a  thin Xavier squad. Sharpshooter Rotnei Clarke struggled to run the offense, and big-man Andrew Smith didn’t get enough touches. Maybe we were wrong to pour on so much preseason love for the Bulldogs.

Keith Appling’ game-winning bucket proves that he can be the Spartan’s leader: Keith Appling’s last-second lay-up in heavy traffic gave the Michigan State Spartans a 67-64 in the opening game of the Champions Classic. The junior showed poise and confidence and looks to be the leading candidate to fill the void left by the graduation of Draymond Green.

Shabazz Muhammad’s family releases statement: The family of ineligible UCLA freshman Shabazz Muhammad released a statement to the LA Times disputing many of the NCAA’s claims. The high-profile freshman has had his eligibility status in limbo for the last three months, and it was announced last Friday that the NCAA was denying him eligibility.

Hoops Housekeeping:
– San Diego State freshman Winston Sheppard suspended three games for taking improper benefits (Eye on College Basketball)

– Kansas picked up their fifth recruit from the class of 2013 in the form of 7-footer Joel Embiid (Kansas City Star)

Observations & Analysis:
– UMass’s Sampson Carter hit a buzzer-beater to knock off Harvard as part of the Tip-Off Marathon (The Dagger)

– The Washington Huskies dropped a head-scratching loss to the Albany Danes on Tuesday, which is the first of what we imagine to be many ugly non-conference losses for pac-12 teams (Seattle Times)

– With star guard Vincent Council going down with an injury, Providence fans must be very grateful that Bryce Cotton ultimately decided against transferring (Rush The Court)

– Princeton struggled with Northeastern, but it became evident that Ian Hummer is the Ivy League’s top performer (New Jersey Hoops Haven)

Odds & Ends:
– Texas-Arlington doesn’t get many high-profile home games. So with the Oklahoma Sooners on the way into town, the atmosphere is already starting to buzz (Dallas Star-Telegram)

– UCLA’s Josh Smith struggles with lay-ups (The Mock Session)

– St. John’s Jakarr Sampson airball’d a lay-up. You just hate to see that happen. (Big East Coast Bias)

– At halftime of the Champions Classic game between Duke and Kentucky, John Calipari said that the Duke players were flopping and would be suspended if they played in the NBA. He was clearly joking, but nobody knew it. (The Dagger)

Video(s) of the Day:
The Tip-Off Marathon featured a bevy of highlight reel dunks, led by Detroit’s Doug Anderson and Kansas’ Jamari Traylor (Ballin’ is a Habit)

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)

Kentucky-Kansas headlines the 2017 SEC/Big 12 Challenge

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The Big 12 and the SEC announced the matchups for the 2017 SEC/Big 12 Challenge on Tuesday, and the highlight is, of course, Kansas and Kentucky.

The two schools, who played an instant classic in Phog Allen Fieldhouse last season, will square off in Lexington this season. If that wasn’t enough, Kentucky and Kansas are currently sitting second and third, respectively, in the NBCSports.com Preseason Top 25.

So that should be fun.

The game will be played on January 28th along with the rest of the matchups in the series. Those matchups are:

Texas at Georgia
Texas A&M at West Virginia
Florida at Oklahoma
Baylor at Ole Miss
Iowa State at Vanderbilt
Kansas State at Tennessee
Arkansas at Oklahoma State
Auburn at TCU
LSU at Texas Tech

To be frank, the rest of that schedule is not all that enticing. West Virginia should be a top 25 team, and they host a Texas A&M team that is talented but young. Florida and Georgia are arguably the two best non-Kentucky teams in the league, but they face off with a rebuilding Oklahoma and a young Texas squad, neither of whom are guaranteed to make the tournament.

The problem here?

Both the SEC and the Big 12 are likely going to be down this season, which puts a damper on just how excited we can get about this challenge.

Purdue forward to return to school, withdraw from NBA Draft

Purdue center A.J. Hammons (20) celebrates with forward Vince Edwards (12) in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Michigan State in West Lafayette, Ind., Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016. Purdue defeated Michigan State 82-81 in overtime. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
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Purdue announced on Tuesday that forward Vince Edwards will be returning to school for his junior season.

Edwards declared for the NBA Draft without signing with an agent and went through the process to gauge his value at the next level.

“After getting the NBA experience and going through the evaluation process, I have talked with my family and Coach Painter and decided it is best for me to return for my junior year,” Edwards said in a statement. “Although the NBA is still a dream for me one day, I am coming back to Purdue to make next year a special one. Thank you to all the organizations who gave me the chance to not only showcase my talents, but also the chance to know me as a young man and not just an athlete.”

Edwards averaged 11.3 points and 5.4 boards last season.

Purdue now has to wait to hear from Caleb Swanigan, a rising sophomore that was a top 20 recruit in the Class of 2015. The deadline to withdraw from the draft is Wednesday.

Five-star 2017 forward Porter Jr. releases top five schools

Father Tolton Catholic's Michael Porter, Jr. (1) celebrates after sinking a basket and drawing a foul during the first half of the Missouri Class 3 boys high school championship basketball game against the Barstow Saturday, March 12, 2016, in Columbia, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
AP Photo/Jeff Roberson
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As one of the top players in the Class of 2017, 6-foot-8 small forward Michael Porter Jr. has been on the receiving end of attention from many high-major programs. Monday night Porter, a native of Columbia, Missouri who’s ranked second in the class by Rivals.com, revealed his top five schools at this point in time.

The five schools that made the cut (in alphabetical order): Indiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, Virginia and Washington.

"Top 5 Top 5 Top 5" 🙏🏽 #Blessed

A photo posted by Michael Porter Jr. (@m1chael_porter) on

Of the five schools on Porter’s list Missouri and Washington may be the most interesting given the family connections. Not only is Missouri the hometown school, but Porter’s older sisters Bri and Cierra are members of the women’s basketball team.

And one of the assistants on that coaching staff was Porter’s father, who earlier this spring joined Lorenzo Romar’s staff at Washington. The elder Porter isn’t the only Washington connection either, with Michael’s younger brother Jontay being a commit in the Class of 2018.

Texas A&M lands Spanish forward Eric Vila

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With the loss of all-conference forward Jalen Jones, Texas A&M was in a position where they could afford to add another front court body alongside the likes of Tyler Davis and Tonny Trocha-Morelos. Thursday afternoon head coach Billy Kennedy and his staff managed to do just that, as 6-foot-9 forward Eric Martinez Vila made his pledge to the SEC program.

News of Vila’s commitment was first reported by TexAgs.com, and the FC Barcelona Lassa (that’s the club’s basketball program) product took visits to Texas A&M, Missouri and Wake Forest earlier this spring. Vila’s viewed as more of a combo forward, with the ability to step away from the basket and hit perimeter shots, giving the Aggies some added versatility in the front court.

Vila has plenty of experience playing for both FC Barcelona’s B team (however he did appear with the A-team during the 2014-15 season), and he represented Spain in the 2014 FIBA U16 EuroBasket and 2015 FIBA U18 EuroBasket events. Vila is the fifth member of Texas A&M’s 2016 class, joining guards J.J. Caldwell and J.C. Hampton, wing DeShawn Corprew and forward Robert Williams.

Nevada forward Cameron Oliver to return for sophomore season

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 11: Angelo Chol #3 of the San Diego State Aztecs drives to the hoop against Cameron Oliver #0 of the Nevada Wolf Pack during a semifinal game of the Mountain West Conference basketball tournament at the Thomas & Mack Center on March 11, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Getty Images)
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With the deadline for early entrants to withdraw from the NBA Draft set for Wednesday, some college basketball teams will receive important news as it pertains to the 2016-17 campaign. One of those teams was Nevada, which surprised many last season by winning 24 games in Eric Musselman’s first season at the helm. And with one of the key contributors from that team deciding to withdraw from the NBA Draft, the Wolf Pack will be well positioned to be even better in 2016-17.

Forward Cameron Oliver, who was one of the Mountain West’s best freshmen this past season, will return to Reno for his sophomore season with Musselman making the news official Monday afternoon.

The 6-foot-8 Oliver averaged 13.4 points, 9.1 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game for Nevada, shooting 50.8 percent from the field in his debut season. Oliver was named third team All-Mountain West while also earning conference All-Defensive team honors.

Oliver and wing D.J. Fenner (13.7 ppg) are the team’s top two returning scorers, with guard Marqueze Coleman (15.1 ppg) out of eligibility, and they’ll lead the way for a team that can contend in the Mountain West next season.

In addition to Oliver and Fenner, Nevada adds two talented transfers in Leland King and Marcus Marshall, with the latter averaging 19.5 points per game at Missouri State in 2014-15.