The Morning Mix

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Remember how I said yesterday that Monday could end up being one of the craziest days of the college hoops season? No? Well that’s what I was thinking. Sure enough, Monday delivered. The Silverswords of Chaminade defended their home turf for the first time since 2007, Maryland makes the move with Rutgers soon to follow. Injuries and upsets were had, Shabazz Muhammad made his NCAA debut and Rotnei Clarke hit the season’s best buzzer-beater.

Tuesday’s Top Games:
1:30 p.m. – Austin Peay vs. Western Carolina
2:30 p.m. – Marquette vs. Mississippi State
4:30 p.m. – James Madison vs. Youngstown State
5:00 p.m. – Texas vs. USC
6:00 p.m. – UC-Irvine vs. Southern Miss
7:00 p.m. – No. 11 UCLA vs. Georgia
7:00 p.m. – Washington State vs. Texas A&M
7:00 p.m. – North Texas @ Virginia
8:00 p.m. – Boise State @ No. 15 Michigan State
8:00 p.m. – No. 9 North Carolina vs. Butler
8:00 p.m. – Harvard @ St. Joseph’s (NBC Sports Network)
9:00 p.m. – USC-Upstate vs. Santa Clara
9:30 p.m. – No. 12 Kansas vs. Saint Louis
10:00 p.m. – No. 1 Indiana vs. Georgetown
10:30 p.m. – Illinois @ Chaminade

Read of the Day: Make sure to read The transcript of Scott Van Pelt’s radio segment today about Maryland’s departure. SVP is a Maryland-native and born-n-bred Terps fan. You don’t find a lot of big time media guys who wear it on their sleeve as much as SVP, and still he  always remains so balanced and impartial while remaining extremely passionate and loyal at the same time. I genuinely feel for him. I completely understand the sorrow he’s feeling, and his explanation is tremendous. When my Georgetown Hoyas eventually depart the Big East, I am positive this is exactly what I will feel like. I hope I’m that lucky. For God’s sake, read this. (Testudo Times)

Read of the Day: 100 thoughts about 100 NCAA teams from the Basketball Prospectus Guide to the 2012-2013 Season. Read it. (Deadspin)

Top Stories:
It’s unfair to rush to judgement about Shabazz Muhammad after just one game: UCLA’s freshman phenom made his debut last night against Georgetown, and if you consider everything (which you should), he didn’t play too bad.

Chaminade upsets Texas; Barnes second loss to Silverswords: Everybody’s favorite Maui Invitational hosts stunned a young Texas squad en route to their first tournament win since defeating Oklahoma in 2007. It just so happens that Texas head coach Rick Barnes was the head coach of the 1991-92 Providence team that lost to the Silverswords.

The Indiana Hoosiers can be effective even when they don’t always go through Cody Zeller: It certainly wasn’t pretty, but with a bevy of alternative weapons to choose from, Indiana was able to grind past a tired Georgia squad at The Barclays Centers.

Sean Woods might not have too friendly of a return in Lexington: The Former-Kentucky “Unforgettable” and current Morehead State head coach voiced his concern for the lack of basketball history displayed by today’s brand of college player, and referenced the current Kentucky roster.

Arizona has options this season, something that hurt them a year ago: Last season the Wildcats had a bunch of potential but not proven help. This season, with another crop of young talent, there is depth on the roster for when situations go awry.

Back from mission, Tyler Haws is the same player but a new man: It’s been a long time since Tyler haws suited up for the Cougars, but the experience gained on the guard’s mormon mission shaped him into the man he is today.

Expanisionocalypse:
– The worst part of it all is that Maryland’s move actually makes sense. Well, no it doesn’t, but this will get the school more money, and the school really (See: REALLY!) needs money. This decision was a no-brainer (CSN Baltimore)

– It really does need rehashing: This is a desperation move by Maryland. It’s a wise move but very desperate (Washington Post)

– Maryland is hoping that change in conferences will help “bail out” the seven varsity programs that were discontinued over the summer (Washington Post)

– Terrapin coaching icon Lefty Driesell chimed in on the move, feels sorry for the players (Sporting News)

– An awesome list (with video) of the five things that Maryland will miss about the ACC (CSN Baltimore)

– Did Rutgers actually “win” conference realignment? It certainly looks like that might be the case (New Jersey Star-Ledger)

– Despite Rutgers likely departure to the Big-10, the Scarlet Knights rivalry with Seton hall is likely to remain (New Jersey Hoops Haven)

– The RAC at Rutgers is one of the more under-appreciated home venues on the east coast. But in order for the Scarlet Knights to compete (See: $$$), they will need a new arena (Statehouse Bureau)

Hoops Housekeeping:
– Ryan Harrow could return to practice for Kentucky today after missing most of last week due to illness (Kentucky Sports Radio)

– The NCAA will hear appeals of two suspended Indiana players later today (Sporting News)

– Louisville and North Carolina will headline the 2013 Hall of Fame Tip-Off tournament (ESPN)

– Missouri guard Michael Dixon remains suspended foe now, but is travelling with the team to the Bahamas for the Battle for Atlantis (College Basketball Talk)

Observations & Insight:
– Make sure Gary Parrish’s “Poll Attacks” are a weekly Monday read. This week, a voter keeps NC-State at No.6, OK-State un-ranked (Eye On College Basketball)

– Drexel has had a tough early stretch. They entered the season with much hype and dropped their first two games of the season. They beat Penn to earn their first win, but lost senior guard Chris Fouchs to a season-ending ankle injury. With Delaware gaining momentum, what does the future hold for the Dragons? (City of Basketball Love)

– Jordy Hulls had a tremendous game for the Hoosiers last night, but he can’t possibly be NBA material, can he? Tom Crean thinks he is (SNY.tv)

News & Notes:
– A quick historical look at the trend of big-time conference realignment (College Hoopedia)

– Some great numbers from Illinois-Chicago’s upset victory over Iona (Horizon League Hoops)

– Amidst all the hype surrounding Shabazz Muhammad’s debut, it was a trio of Hoya stars that shined brightest (SNY.tv)

– The Flames of Illinois-Chicago are down in the Virgin Islands for the Paradise Jam and spent some of their free time snorkeling in the crystal clear Caribbean waters (UICFlames.com)

– Am I the only one who thinks Rick Pitino is turning in to the “Mercury Morris” of expansionocalypse? (The Card Connect)

Dunk of the Day: Doug “The Freakshow” Anderson. Or for you sports entertainment fans out there: “MMMMMMIIIIIIIIISSSSSSSSSTTEEERRRR AANNNNNNNNDDEERRSSSSSOOOOOONNNNNN” (Ballin’ is a Habit)

Video of the Day: Say hello to your new gun-slingin’ overlord Rotnei Clarke. That is all. (Sporting News)

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)

Eastern Kentucky basketball player charged with rape

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RICHMOND, Ky. (AP) Authorities say an Eastern Kentucky basketball player has been arrested on a rape charge.

Records at Kentucky’s Madison County Detention Center show 23-year-old Jaylen Babb-Harrison was arrested Sunday in Richmond and charged with first-degree rape.

A statement from Eastern Kentucky says Babb-Harrison, a redshirt senior guard, has been suspended from the team. It says the school is cooperating with police.

Local media organizations cited an arrest citation in reporting that police were called to a Richmond hospital when a female reported she was at Babb-Harrison’s home and that he had sex with her against her will.

WKYT-TV reports Babb-Harrison declined to be interviewed at a jail. His first court appearance is set for Wednesday.

Online jail records didn’t list an attorney for the player.

Judge dismisses sex charges against ex-Michigan State star

3 Apr 2000: Mateen Cleaves #12 of the Michigan State Spartans celebrates on the floor as he holds up the trophy after winning the NCAA Men''s Finals Four Game against the Florida Gators at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Spartans defeated the Gators 89-76.
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FLINT, Mich. (AP) A judge has dismissed all charges against former Michigan State basketball star Mateen Cleaves, who was accused of sexually assaulting a woman after a charity golf event.

Judge Cathy Dowd in Flint, Michigan, said Monday there wasn’t enough evidence to send Cleaves to trial. Prosecutors can appeal.

A woman said she twice tried to get away from Cleaves but was pulled back into a motel room and sexually assaulted in September 2015. A witness confirmed that she saw the woman try to escape a room at the Knights Inn near Flint.

But a police officer said the woman never indicated that she was assaulted. Cleaves pleaded not guilty.

The Associated Press generally doesn’t name people who say they were sexually assaulted. Cleaves led Michigan State to the 2000 national championship.

Coaches Poll: Villanova takes the top spot

VILLANOVA, PA - DECEMBER 03: Kris Jenkins #2 of the Villanova Wildcats yells to his team in the first half against the Saint Joseph's Hawks at The Pavilion on December 3, 2016 in Villanova, Pennsylvania. The Villanova Wildcats defeated the Saint Joseph's Hawks 88-57. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
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Villanova has overtaken Kentucky as the new No. 1 in the Coaches Poll on Monday.

The defending champions also took No. 1 in the new AP poll thanks to an 8-0 start while UCLA beat Kentucky at Rupp Arena this weekend. The Bruins finished at No. 2 while Kansas and Duke are right behind them.

RANKINGS: AP Poll | NBC Sports Top 25

  1. Villanova (28)
  2. UCLA (1)
  3. Kansas (1)
  4. Duke (2)
  5. North Carolina
  6. Baylor
  7. Kentucky
  8. Gonzaga
  9. Indiana
  10. Creighton
  11. Saint Mary’s
  12. Virginia
  13. Louisville
  14. Xavier
  15. Butler
  16. West Virginia
  17. Wisconsin
  18. South Carolina
  19. Purdue
  20. Arizona
  21. Florida
  22. Notre Dame
  23. Cincinnati
  24. Oregon
  25. Iowa State

AP Poll: Defending champion Villanova is the new No. 1

LOUISVILLE, KY - MARCH 26:  Josh Hart #3 of the Villanova Wildcats reacts in the second half against the Kansas Jayhawks during the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament South Regional at KFC YUM! Center on March 26, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Josh Hart
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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The defending national champs are back at No. 1.

Villanova is atop the latest Associated Press top 25 poll this week as the 8-0 Wildcats are off to a hot start. With Kentucky’s loss to UCLA and North Carolina’s loss at Indiana there were some major shakeups in the polls this week.

  1. Villanova (57 first-place votes)
  2. UCLA (2)
  3. Kansas
  4. Baylor
  5. Duke
  6. Kentucky
  7. North Carolina
  8. Gonzaga
  9. Indiana
  10. Creighton
  11. Louisville
  12. Saint Mary’s
  13. Xavier
  14. Virginia
  15. West Virginia
  16. Butler
  17. Purdue
  18. Wisconsin
  19. South Carolina
  20. Arizona
  21. Florida
  22. Cincinnati
  23. Notre Dame
  24. Oregon
  25. Iowa State

 

Five things we learned last week: UCLA, Kentucky, the Big 12 and Lagerald Vick

LEXINGTON, KY - DECEMBER 03: Isaac Hamilton #10 of the UCLA Bruins drives to the basket against Bam Adebayo #3 of the Kentucky Wildcats in the second half of the game at Rupp Arena on December 3, 2016 in Lexington, Kentucky. UCLA defeated Kentucky 97-92. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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1. There’s a lot more to this UCLA team than just Lonzo Ball: Entering this weekend, that’s the name that everyone knew on UCLA. Ball is the team’s superstar freshman point guard, a player that has been compared favorably to Jason Kidd and whose ability to spray passes all over the floor is the biggest reason that the Bruins offense is a juggernaut.

But that offense isn’t going to be the difference-maker for the Bruins this season, because the Bruins were able to score last year, too.

No, the reason that UCLA has a chance to win a national title this season is that they can actually defend. They’re not Virginia. They’re not going to hold good teams to 50 points. They’re not going to be forcing 20 turnovers a night. They don’t have to. All they need to do is to be ‘good enough’ on that end of the floor. Limit penetration, protect the rim, clean the defensive glass.

If we learned anything on Saturday, it’s that the Bruins are going to be able to do the latter two things on that list. T.J. Leaf injected a shot of athleticism into the front court while Ike Anigbogu provides a physicality and a toughness they haven’t had in the paint under Alford. Throw in Thomas Welsh, who more than held his own against the Wildcats, and this is a pretty good front line that UCLA is working with.

And given what we already know about this team’s guards, that’s a scary proposition.

RELATED: Player of the Week | Team of the Week | Five Takeaways

LEXINGTON, KY - DECEMBER 03: De'Aaron Fox #0 and Isaiah Briscoe #13 of the Kentucky Wildcats celebrate in the first half of the game against the UCLA Bruins at Rupp Arena on December 3, 2016 in Lexington, Kentucky. UCLA defeated Kentucky 97-92. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

2. Kentucky is going to be just fine: Saturday’s loss was a humbling one for the Wildcats. After steam-rolling through literally everyone they’ve played this season – Kentucky entered the game having won by at least 21 points in every game – the Wildcats got outplayed by UCLA pretty thoroughly. That’s going to happen with young teams, regardless of how well they play against inferior competition, and it may happen again before SEC play starts; Kentucky still have to play North Carolina and Louisville before Christmas.

The Wildcats are an elite defensive team, and they are even better at scoring in transition. Where they struggle, however, is with half court offense. They simply don’t have enough shooters to be able to consistently create high-percentage looks against a set defense, and the way to force them into half court offense is, simply, to score on them. UCLA is one of just a handful of teams that has the guard play and the offensive weapons to be able to do that consistently for 40 minutes, and even then, it took the Bruins a while to grow into the game.

In other words, there aren’t very many teams that can do what UCLA did to Kentucky’s defense.

Thus, there aren’t very many teams that can actually beat Kentucky.

So don’t be worried about the ‘Cats.

They’ll be just fine.

3. Turns out, the Big 12 is really good: The narrative on the Big 12 entering the season was that the league was down outside of Kansas. The Jayhawks were the favorite to win the league just like they always are, but once you got past Bill Self’s club, there really wasn’t much of substance in the league.

That looks to be a dumb narrative.

It starts with Baylor, who has been awesome this season. The Bears picked up yet another excellent non-conference win on Saturday, coming from behind at halftime to beat No. 7 Xavier by 15 points in Waco. It turns out that Baylor actually has the supporting cast around Johnathan Motley to be relevant, and if the tournament was to start today, Baylor would very likely be the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament.

Then there’s West Virginia, who went into Charlottesville and picked up a road win over No. 6 Virginia the same week that they forced 40 turnovers in a 40 minute game. Iowa State is probably still top 25 good, even with that home loss to Cincinnati last week, and we’d be remiss not to mention the play of both Texas Tech and TCU, the latter of whom is one of just two teams in the league and 11 teams in the country that are still undefeated.

Here’s the kicker: As of today, the No. 1 conference in college basketball, according to KenPom.com, is … the Big 12.

LAWRENCE, KS - NOVEMBER 29: Lagerald Vick #2 of the Kansas Jayhawks dunks on a fast break as Javonntie Jackson #35 of the Long Beach State 49ers looks on during the game at Allen Fieldhouse on November 29, 2016 in Lawrence, Kansas. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Lagerald Vick (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

4. Is LaGerald Vick the most surprising player in the league?: Baylor’s Manu Lecomte has been better than expected, as has his teammate, Jo Lual-Acuil. Jawun Evans has been a star for Oklahoma State, but we all knew that he was going to be good. Texas A&M transfer Alex Robinson is leading TCU in points, assists and steals, but he was a good player for the Aggies before he left. We knew he would do good things in Fort Worth.

But Vick?

I’m not sure anyone expected Vick to develop into a starter for Kansas just weeks into the season, but here we are. He’s averaging double-figures on the season. He’s made 9-of-11 threes in the last three games, a stretch where he’s averaging 15.3 points. He’s been terrific defensively, and his presence has allowed Kansas to put plus-defenders on the floor at every position while playing small-ball lineups.

Who saw that coming?

5. So maybe the North Carolina hype train got a bit out of control: Yes, North Carolina played well early on this season. Yes, they were impressive in their wins against Chattanooga and in the Maui Invitational. Yes, Joel Berry II and Justin Jackson have both gotten better.

But the fact that the narrative last week somehow turned into North Carolina being the most impressive team in college basketball seemed a little bit weird, a fact that was confirmed by UNC’s loss at Assembly Hall on Wednesday night.

Now let me be clear: There’s no shame in losing in Assembly Hall, not when IU was playing the way they were playing. But UNC dug themselves a 26-9 hole early in the first half that they were never really able to dig out of. They were rattled by the atmosphere. They did not play well at all, and I just don’t think that if this was truly the best team in college basketball, that doesn’t happen that way.

UNC is good, and probably better than many thought entering the season, but before we go anointing them the champs can we take a second to remember these are basically the same dudes we’ve been unimpressed by for a couple of years now?