The Morning Mix


Another full day of hoops is on tap. The preseason tournaments are in full swing, which means plenty of quality non-conference games taking place throughout the day. If you have saved up your “sick days”, today would be a good time to use one.
Friday’s Top Games:
10:30 a.m. – Oklahoma State vs. Tennessee
12:30 p.m. – Colorado vs. No. 16 Baylor
1:30 p.m. – Mercer vs. George Mason
2:30 p.m. – Dayton vs. Boston College
4:00 p.m. – Illinois-Chicago @ New Mexico
5:00 p.m. – Massachusetts vs. No. 6 North Carolina State
5:30 p.m. – St. John’s vs. Murray State
6:30 p.m. – Wake Forest vs. No.23 UConn
7:00 p.m. – BYU vs. Florida State
7:00 p.m. – LIU-Brooklyn @ Maryland
7:00 p.m. – UNC-Wilmington @ Ohio
7:30 p.m. – Manhattan @ Harvard
8:00 p.m. – California @ Denver
9:30 p.m. – No. 20 Notre Dame vs. St. Joseph’s
11:00 p.m. – No. 11 North Carolina @ Long Beach State
11:00 p.m. – Vanderbilt @ Oregon
12:30 a.m. – Illinois @ Hawaii
Read of the Day: Gary Parrish details why the six minutes Luke Cothron played while a member of New Orleans basketball program will haunt him forever. Read it. No seriously. This is one you have to read. (Eye on College Basketball)
Top Stories:
It’s time the NCAA addresses the rising number of transfer in college basketball: Brian A. Shactman, host of CNBC’s SportsBiz is among the many who believe the NCAA needs to step in an control the increasing number of college basketball players who transfer to different programs.

The Alabama Trevors (Lacy and Releford) led the Crimson Tide to semifinal win over Oregon State: Anthony Grant saw a significant amount of his team’s production walk out of the door at the end of last season. But if Trevor Lacy and Trevor Releford can do on a nightly basis what they did on Thursday, the Crimson Tide should be fine this season.

Oklahoma State wins despite losing J.P. Olukemi to knee injury: Not many teams have been plagued by the injury bug as bad as Oklahoma State the last few months. Senior forward J.P. Olukemi is the latest Cowboy to go down to an injury, which took place during their Thursday win over Akron. Olukemi had already been granted a fifth year of eligibility because of an injury he sustained last season.

Freshman guard Ryan Archidiacono comes up big in Villanova’s overtime win over Purdue: The freshman guard missed his entire senior season of high school because of a back injury and despite making several freshman mistakes, came up huge against Purdue on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden

Drexel now 0-2 following home loss to Illinois State: The Dragons were favored to win the CAA this season but have struggled early on, dropping the first two games of the season. The two losses however, have both come against strong opponents is both Kent State and Illinois State.
Hoops Housekeeping:
– An arrest warrant has been issued for former Tennessee women’s basketball star Chamique Holdsclaw. The 3-time national champion is being cited for aggravated assault, criminal damage to property and reckless conduct (Atlanta Journal Constitution)

– Karl Towns, the top center in the class of 2013, may reclassify to 2014, but will still likely end up at Kentucky (Kentucky Kernel)

– Oregon received word from the NCAA that Rice-transfer Arsalan Kazemi is eligible to play for the Ducks this season (The Oregonian)

– Kentucky guard Ryan Harrow is still dealing with flu-like symptoms and he is unlikely to play against Lafayette today (The Sporting News)

– Clemson freshman Jaron Blossomgame will take a redshirt season due to a leg injury he suffered in the Spring (Greenfield Daily Reporter)

– Evansville’s Colt Ryan, the teams go-to player in all regards, suffered a hip injury during the Aces’ 56-50 loss against Buffalo last night. Ryan’s status for their Friday night game against Yale is up in the air (Mid-Major Madness)

– Dantiel Daniels will return to action for Southern Illinois tonight, after sitting out the last few days with a groin injury (Mid-Major Madness)

– Gus Leeper of Arkansas-Little Rock will miss the next four weeks because of a reoccurring knee injury (Burn The Horse)
Observations & Analysis:
– UMass has now won two games this season, and both have come via the buzzer-beater variety (ESPN)

– Eight months after engaging in one of the more memorable games of the NCAA tournament, Baylor and Colorado meet again in tournament-play (The Dagger)

– Kansas needed a strong second half effort in order to get past a tough Chattanooga team, and Billy Self’s halftime speech may have made the difference (

– One of Kansas’ best weapons against Chattanooga was Ben McLemore, who put on a highlight reel performance featuring five huge dunks (

– Michigan State freshman Denzel Valentine has all the makings of a home-runner hitter, similar to former-Spartan Durrell Summers (Digital Sports)

– With so much size in the frontcourt, Louisville is going to have to get away from being a perimeter-oriented team (Rush The Court)

– Ryan Fagan put together an excellent weekend planner for all the preseason tournament games taking place (The Sporting News)

– American University forward Stephen Lumpkins is glad to be back on the court after spending last season on the diamond (College Chalk Talk)

– Indiana guard Jordy Hulls eclipsed the 1,000-carrer points mark in the Hoosier’s blowout victory over Sam Houston State, but needed some help from Tom Crean in order to get the ovation he deserved (Inside the Hall)

– The Bradley Braves are still a work in progress, but the team is much better than what the early home attendance numbers indicate (Peoria Journal-Star)
Video(s) of the Day:
The Drexel Dragons have now dropped their first two games of the season after being named the preseason favorites to win the CAA. Last night the Dragons lost to a underatted Illinois State Redbirds squad in overtime at home, 86-84(CSN Philly)

This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
Dunk of the Day:
You should probably get familiar with High Point freshman John Brown. I have a feeling we will be seeing him again sometime soon (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)

Loyola-Chicago’s Sister Jean gets her piece of the net

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Loyola-Chicago’s hero — their 98-year old chaplain, Sister Jean — got her reward for being the good-luck charm that got the Ramblers to the Final Four.

Think about this:

  • The Ramblers beat Miami on a game-winning three with 0.3 seconds left
  • They beat Tennessee on a jumper with 3.6 seconds left that bounced off the rim, the backboard and the rim again before going in.
  • They needed a three with 7.6 seconds left to help them hold off Nevada in the Sweet 16.
  • A senior that never averaged more than 8.3 points and that had a season-high of 14 points against something called Eureka this season went for a career-high 23 points to get the Ramblers to the Final Four.

She earned this piece of the net.

The Atlanta Falcons are trying to recruit Sister Jean from Loyola

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Atlanta Falcons are American sports’ most cursed franchise now that the Chicago Cubs have won a World Series.

Hell, Atlanta sports in general are a minefield of terrible losses, blown seasons and heartbreak.

Which is why the Falcons, who may or may not have blown a 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, are trying to get Sister Jean on their payroll:

Stay away, Falcons.

Sister Jean is ours.

Sincerely, College Basketball

No. 11-seed Loyola-Chicago advances past Kansas State, to Final Four

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Sister Jean strikes again!

Ben Richardson, a senior guard who’s never averaged more than 8.3 points in a season, broke double-figures just four times during his senior year and had a season-high of 14 points that came in a game against something called Eureka, scored went 6-for-7 from three and scored a career-high 23 points for No. 11-seed Loyola-Chicago as college basketball’s latest Cinderella finished off their run to the Final Four with a 78-62 win over No. 9-seed Kansas State.

A No. 11-seed is the lowest-seeded team to ever reach a Final Four, and Loyola is just the fourth No. 11-seed to get to the Final Four. LSU did it in 1986, George Mason made it in 2006 and VCU reached the Final Four out of a play-in game in 2011.

Perhaps the most impressive part of this win was that it was never really in doubt. Kansas State led 3-2 for 17 seconds in the first half … and that’s it. The Ramblers opened the game on a 15-5 run, took a 36-24 lead into the break and led by as many as 23 points in the second half.

Perhaps this is what says it all — The Ramblers emptied their bench to let the walk-ons get some run.

In the Elite Eight.

Their bench players dribbled out the clock to send them to the Final Four.

For a team that needed game-winning jumpers in the final 10 seconds in the first three rounds of the tournament, Kansas State was the lowest seeded team that the Ramblers played in the tournament. I guess it’s fitting that they were the game they finally won comfortably.

And to be frank, this is the postseason run that we all needed this year.

Let’s start with the basics: Nobody wants to see Kansas State in the Final Four. I’m sorry Kansas State fans, but that’s the truth. This run has been fun, it might have saved Bruce Weber’s job and I’ve gained a whole new level of respect for the fight and the grit that guys like Barry Brown Jr., Cartier Diarra and Xavier Sneed play with.

But if you are going to give me the choice between seeing a miracle mid-major run to the final weekend of the college basketball season or a middling power conference program that happened to get hot against a lucky draw in the NCAA tournament, I’m taking the mid-major.

Every. Single. Time.

And I guarantee that I’m not the only one.

If we’re not going to get a blueblood, give me the little guy.

Especially when they are being led to glory by a 98-year old nun named Sister Jean.

That is the other part of this: Everything about this Loyola-Chicago team is good. They are what makes college basketball so special. They are why this event is the best sporting event in America. And they are making this run in the tournament in a year where the sport has been marred by scandal after scandal.

There was the FBI’s investigation into corruption in college basketball that resulted in assistant coaches at four programs getting arrested. There was the arrest of the three UCLA players that turned into an international incident covered by TMZ, CNN and FOX News when LaVar Ball stood up for his son and got into a war of words with Donald Trump. There were the accusations that were levied at Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo that he covered up sexual assaults committed by players within his program. There were the reports that leaked before the start of the NCAA tournament that tied players at myriad programs with taking impermissible from a disgraced NCAA agent, and then the controversy surrounding a report that Sean Miller was caught on a wiretap discussing a payment of $100,000 for Deandre Ayton.

Anyone paying attention to college basketball from afar would think that the sport is an absolute cesspool, and whether the fact that it is may or may not be true depending the way that you view amateurism and the ability of college athletes to earn money off of their likeness, the bottom-line is this: College basketball’s public image has never been worse.

Until now.

Now we have a team from the Missouri Valley — a league that Wichita State and Creighton left because it wasn’t good enough — heading to the Final Four. We have a mid-major program whose most famous member is their 98-year old chaplain. We have a program with a head coach that is so far from the glitz and glamour of $3,000 suits that he wears outfits that look like this.

This is why college basketball is the best.

Because things like this can happen.

Tonight, we are all Ramblers.

Report: Gonzaga will decide on conference future in next few weeks

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Now that Gonzaga has been eliminated from the 2018 NCAA tournament, the school has some important decisions to make regarding its basketball future.

A report at the end of February from Mark Zeigler of the San Diego Union-Tribune said that the Bulldogs were among two teams targeted by the Mountain West Conference for future expansion. The Mountain West talks are becoming more of a reality since the Zags were ousted by Florida State in the Sweet 16 on Thursday night.

Dennis Dodd of is reporting that Gonzaga will make a conference decision in the next few weeks as the school is exploring the possibility of leaving the West Coast Conference.

Gonzaga athletic director Mike Roth confirmed to Dodd that the Mountain West and Gonzaga are talking while also noting that rumors of BYU and Gonzaga being a package deal are false. Since the window is quickly closing to try to get new teams into leagues for the 2018-19 season the Gonzaga/Mountain West talks should be figured out within the next few weeks.

“I think we’re into that crunch period for sure if we’re going to try to get it done for the fall of 2018. At the same time, we’re not going to rush the decision because of timing,” Roth said to Dodd.

“In a perfect world, we’re going to be making a decision in the next couple of weeks here. But there is no such thing as perfect worlds in the crazy world of college athletics.”

While Gonzaga has dominated the WCC over the last 20 years, the conference hasn’t provided enough quality competition for the perennial top-25 program. That’s why the jump to the Mountain West would be intriguing. The Bulldogs would get a better yearly strength of schedule to help its tournament profile. The Mountain West would add a stable NCAA tournament contender that would also boost the national profile of the league.

“Our conference doesn’t get the national respect, and the Mountain West has better respect,” Roth said to Dodd. “Whether it’s significant enough for us to make that move, we’re trying to figure [that] out.”

As Dodd noted in his report, this move would have little to do with revenue for Gonzaga. This move would be made strictly for competitive purposes:

Such a move would seemingly have little to do with revenue, at least for Gonzaga. The Mountain West TV contract is worth approximately $18 million (about $1.5 million per school). Gonzaga’s current league, the West Coast Conference, gets a tiny fraction compared to that amount.

Based on an industry standard that basketball is worth only 25 percent of any media rights contract, jumping to the MWC would net Gonzaga only $375,000 per season.

Based on Roth’s quotes about the WCC and the level of national respect, it will be fascinating to see if this move happens in the next few weeks. It makes sense for both Gonzaga and the Mountain West to make this move. But a lot of other things also have to be figured out for such a move to take place. Once the college basketball season is over, this will be one of the biggest storylines to follow heading into next season.

PHOTO: Loyola-Chicago’s Sister Jean has her signature Nikes on

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Not only does Sister Jean have her own bobblehead, she has her own pair of signature Nikes as well: