The Morning Mix

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Last night was the first night of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Michigan got a big home win against North Carolina State thanks to a huge performance from Trey Burke. In Bloomington, Indiana steamrolled over a flat North Carolina squad. Virginia Tech and Maryland were the lone ACC teams to win on night one.

But last night was also the first night of Jimmy-V Week. I was too young to remember Valvano as a coach, but the words he imparted on us during his legendary ESPYs speech has inspired and motivate me my entire life. I imagine that I’m not the only one whole feels the same way.

Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.

Wednesday’s Top Games:
7:00 p.m. – Virginia @ Wisconsin
7:00 p.m. – William & Mary @ Richmond
7:00 p.m. – American @ St. Joseph’s
7:15 p.m. – Purdue @ Clemson
7:30 p.m. – No. 13 Michigan State @ Miami (FL)
8:00 p.m. – Oklahoma vs. Oral Roberts
8:00 p.m. – Tulsa @ Wichita State
8:00 p.m. – Utah @ SMU
8:05 p.m. – Boise State @ No. 11 Creighton
9:00 p.m. – Georgia Tech @ No. 22 Illinois
9:00 p.m. – Mercer @ No. 25 New Mexico
9:00 p.m. – Montana @ BYU
9:15 p.m. – Boston College @ Penn State
9:30 p.m. – No. 4 Ohio State @ No. 2 Duke
10:00 p.m. – Northern Arizona @ No. 9 Arizona
10:00 p.m. – UC-Irvine @ No. 24 UNLV
12:00 a.m. – Saint Louis @ Washington

Read of the Day:
Athlon Sports released their “Off the Record” survey from current college basketball players. Kim Kardashian is the hottest women alive apparently. Personally, I’d pick Upton or Good out of the group, but hey, that’s a debate for a rainy day. But make sure you read this. I do love me a good survey. (Athlon Sports)

Read of the Day:
Casual Hoya details how greed will destroy modern amateur athletics. Read it. (Casual Hoya)

Top Stories:
Former-SDSU forward Tim Shelton makes best music video of the season: The former-Aztec is a talented hip-hop artist and released yet another Aztec anthem. This one, titled “Montezuma 55” is legitimately good. Best music video I’ve seen all year.

North Carolina’s blowout loss at Indiana was far worse than just a blowout: The young Tar Heels looked out-matched. they looked like they had no business being on the same court as the Hoosiers. Marcus Paige is not Kendall Marshall, and James Michael McAdoo is not Tyler Hansbrough. This could be a very long season in Chapel Hill.

Michigan looked like a National Championship night in victory over NC-State: Trey Burke looked like an All-American and the Wolverines’ freshman stepped up large in a dominant win over the Wolfpack. Michigan led early and often, and was able to fight off a late rally to secure a very impressive early season victory.

ACC files lawsuit against Maryland: The Atlantic Coast Conference has filed a lawsuit against member school Maryland in a North Carolina court after the school’s announcement last week that it would leave the ACC for the Big Ten. The lawsuit is in regard to the $50-million exit fee the conference imposed on member schools earlier this year.

Tulane and East Carolina are joining the Big East: The Green Wave will become full-time members while the Pirates will join for football only. If all stays put, the Big East will have 10 former C-USA schools as big East members in 2014.

Hoops Housekeeping:
– Missouri’s Michael Dixon remains suspended for “a violation of team rules”. Steve Walentik has the graphic details of the rape accusations that were made against Dixon stemming from an August incident. (Columbia Tribune)

– Former-Washington Husky Doug Wrenn was convicted on Tuesday afternoon of harassing and cyber stalking a former girlfriend. (Seattle Times)

– Tulsa has placed Athletic Director Ross Parmley on paid administrative leave as the university investigates allegations of illegal sports gambling. (CBS Sports)

– Marquette guard Vander Blue is expected to play against Florida on Thursday after missing the Golden Eagles game on Monday against UMBC. (Fox Sports Wisconsin)

– SIU-Edwardsville forward Mark Yelovich is day-to-day with an ankle injury. (OVC Ball)

– After receiving X-rays on his surgically repaired foot, California sophomore Ricky Kreklow should be able to return soon, although he is doubtful for the Bears next game. (Bear Talk)

– Cleveland State’s Anton Grady will miss tonight’s game against Ball State because of a knee injury. (Cleveland State Hoops)

– UNLV freshman phenom Anthony Bennett may miss tonight’s game against UC-Irvine because of a lower back injury. (Las Vegas Sun)

– The NCAA has hired Val Ackerman as a consultant for women’s basketball. (Fox Sports)

Observations & Insight:
– The ACC will vote on expanding the conference later today, and it looks like if the ACC does expand, Louisville is going to get the nod. (ACC Sports Journal)

– North Carolina dispels rumors that it wants to join the Big Ten. (Sporting News)

– A stock report from the first night of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. (The Dagger)

– Mike DeCourcy doesn’t think the Tulane/Big East marriage will work, and I totally agree with him. (Sporting News)

– The WAC is desperately trying to stay afloat. After losing Denver on Monday, the conference has added Grand Canyon, a school most of us never knew existed. (Yahoo Sports)

– With Gorgui Dieng sidelined with a broken wrist, back-up center Stephen Van Treese is going to be called on to pick up the slack. Van Treese missed almost all of last season due to injury. (The Cardinal Connect)

– Jeff Borzello updates his Freshman of the Year rankings. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Dave Telep wonders if the hectic travel schedules of AAU basketball players is contributing to the recent outbreak in injuries among some the most elite high school players in the country. (ESPN Insider)

– Luke Winn provides his list of the top-16 best shooters in the country, now w/ more pictures. (Sports Illustrated)

– What is wrong with UCLA coach Ben Howland? An excellent read. (Bruins Nation)

– A quick look at the MAC power rankings. (Hustle Belt)

– I love lists like this: The All-Chicago Team. (Run The Floor)

Odds & Ends
– ICYMI, the lights did breifly go out at Assembly Hall during the Hoosiers rout of North Carolina last night. (The Big Lead)

– What has happened to our beloved Big East Conference? (Big East Hoops)

– Some expansion thoughts from a James Madison perspective. (JMU Sports Blog)

Dunk of the Day:
This dunk from Minnesota’s Rodney Williams is just silly. I wish I could do that. (Ballin’ is a Habit)

Video(s) of the Day:
Vermont got a quality non-conference road-win over a gutsy Harvard squad 85-78.

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Rutgers lands upset win over No. 15 Seton Hall

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Corey Sanders scored 22 points and Deshawn Freeman added 12 points and 16 boards as Rutgers landed the biggest win of the Steve Pikiell era to date, erasing a 13-point deficit to knock off in-state rival No. 15 Seton Hall, 71-65.

The Scarlet Knights finished the game on a 17-2 run over the final six minutes of the game, answering a 9-0 Seton Hall run that put the Pirates up 63-54. Rutgers did not lead until a free throw from Sanders with 2:22 left put them up 64-63.

The win was the first for Rutgers over Seton Hall in four tries, roughly the time frame that the Pirates have been relevant nationally, and it is precisely what Pikiell needed to continue building a program in Piscataway. Rutgers is now 10-3 on the season, but their three losses have all come to teams are in – or getting votes in – the top 25: Florida State, at Minnesota and Michigan State. As the saying goes, it isn’t really a rivalry until both teams have a chance to win the game, and this win proves just that.

But that’s not the only reason to be bullish on this program. Rutgers is also starting to recruit a little bit better. They sold out the RAC for this game.

He still has a long way to go, and building something out of nothing in the Big Ten is never going to be simple, but Pikiell has this thing going in the right direction.

As far as the Pirates are concerned, there is some reason to be worried here. A team with this kind of veteran presence should not be getting rattled and blowing leads down the stretch. Khadeen Carrington, who is making the adjustment to playing the point this season, was 4-for-17 from the floor with five turnovers, and he struggled to make plays when Seton Hall needed them in the final minutes. Angel Delgado finished just 3-for-9 from the floor.

I’m not sure this is the kind of situation where you need to be worried about their long-term prospects, but it is something to monitor.

No. 17 Purdue takes down Butler in Crossroads Classic

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The annual Crossroads Classic opened with No. 17 Purdue running past Butler for a solid 82-67 win on Saturday afternoon. The Boilermakers continued a recent strong stretch of play with another road or neutral win against a power-conference opponent.

Here are three takeaways from this one.

1. Purdue is the second best team in the Big Ten (and the gap might be growing).

The Big Ten is a mess so far. Only Michigan State, Purdue and Ohio State are 2-0 in league play. The Buckeyes aren’t expected to maintain their surprising hot start. Obviously, others in the Big Ten like Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota and Northwestern could all be dangerous. But those four teams have also been underwhelming and have a lot of glaring holes.

For the current moment, Purdue (11-2) clearly looks like the second best team in the Big Ten. And the gap seems to be getting wider during a seven-game winning streak. Outside of a weird two-game stretch at the Battle 4 Atlantis, the Boilermakers have put together a solid stretch that now includes road or neutral wins over Arizona, Maryland and Butler in the last few weeks.

Purdue has experience, unique size with 7-foot-2 Isaac Haas and 7-foot-3 Matt Haarms, and capable perimeter shooters who can space the floor. The Boilermakers have good defenders at multiple positions. They outplayed Butler in nearly every facet of the game during a solid win on Saturday. Carsen Edwards (18 points) has matured as a solid leading scorer and plenty of players around him are double-figure scorers.

Butler isn’t likely to be a second-weekend NCAA tournament team, but they’re a solid postseason-caliber group that the Boilermakers made look silly for much of the game. Purdue knows itself. The Boilermakers know their personnel and they’re a veteran group. There’s a lot to like about Purdue at this point in the season.

2. Butler struggles mightily against length

Butler’s offense couldn’t get much of anything going on Saturday. The Bulldogs were ice-cold from the perimeter (7-for-22 from three-point range) and they didn’t fare much better when they tried to go inside (26-for-69).

The Bulldogs haven’t been a very good perimeter team in general this season — entering Saturday’s game with only 31 percent three-point shooting — and those problems were very apparent against Purdue. Without an ability to space the floor, attackers like Kelan Martin (15 points) and Kamar Baldwin (13 points) struggled to get anything going with the drive as the Boilermakers had a great defensive game plan to limit Butler’s looks. Senior big man Tyler Wideman (seven points) also had a hard time finishing over the length of players like Haas and Haarms at the rim.

Paul Jorgenson (15 points) had a big second half and he has been solid at times this season as a floor-spacing threat. The Bulldogs need more help for him on the outside. Sean McDermott has been labeled as a perimeter specialist, but he’s also returning from a recent injury and the Bulldogs are slowly bringing him back.

Butler’s offense is at its best when they can rely on Martin and Baldwin to attack. That wasn’t even close to the case on Saturday as both struggled to get going. It meant Butler didn’t stand much of a chance.

3. Purdue has some late-game turnover issues

Purdue has been generally solid with closing out games this season but they weren’t able to do so against Butler on Saturday.

It looked like the Boilermakers were going to cruise to an easy win before turnovers became an issue and Butler crept back in this one. While Purdue maintained most of its defensive intensity, its offense took a foot off the gas as Butler’s aggressiveness defending on the perimeter led to 18 Boilermaker turnovers.

Purdue is great at closing out games from the free-throw line if they need to. But their ball handlers need to limit turnovers and continue to run good offense if they build up a lead.

Purdue had trouble at times defending late leads last season. They’re now 10-0 this season when they have a halftime lead. Could this be an issue that comes back once again? It doesn’t seem likely but the second half on Saturday brought some ugly flashbacks.

VIDEO: Miami’s Lonnie Walker skies for ridiculous putback dunk

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Miami freshman guard Lonnie Walker timed this one perfectly.

The 6-foot-4 McDonald’s All-American came from across the floor to hammer home a left-handed putback on Saturday as Walker showed why many consider him to be a potential one-and-done prospect.

After a career-high 26 points in a win over Boston on Tuesday, it appears that Walker might be gaining confidence as ACC season approaches.

VIDEO: Memphis’ Jimario Rivers catches lob on Louisville’s Anas Mahmoud

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Memphis senior forward Jimario Rivers caught a tough one-handed alley-oop on Saturday as Louisville senior big man Anas Mahmoud found himself on the receiving end.

This is one of the better lobs we’ve seen this season. Rivers got way up there for this one.

Northern Colorado basketball placed on probation by NCAA

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The NCAA placed the University of Northern Colorado men’s basketball program on three years’ probation among other sanctions Friday after finding academic fraud and recruiting violations by ex-coach B.J. Hill and some of his assistants.

The violations by Hill and eight members of his staff over a four-year span included completing coursework for prospects, paying for classes prospects needed to become academically eligible and arranging off-campus practice sessions with an academically ineligible student-athlete.

In addition to probation, penalties in the case include a one-year postseason ban (already served) for the men’s basketball team; a financial penalty; scholarship and recruiting restrictions; and a vacation of records.

Seven coaches received “show cause” orders, including a six-year penalty for the head coach, five years for two assistant coaches, four years for another assistant coach and three years for two assistant coaches and the graduate assistant. During the show cause periods, if an NCAA school hires the coach, that school must demonstrate why restrictions on the coach’s athletically related duties should not apply.

The NCAA concurred with the university’s self-imposed one-year postseason ban last season, a reduction of three scholarships and recruiting restrictions. Also, the school must return all proceeds from its 2011 NCAA Tournament appearance.

The rules violations spanned four years under Hill, a first-time head coach who personally completed coursework for a prospect and enlisted an athletic director to do the same, the NCAA found.

The NCAA said Hill recruited ineligible players, then broke rules to get them on the court.

Hill was fired last year when the NCAA began looking into the violations. He had gone 86-98 with two postseason appearances in six seasons after taking over the program in 2010 following a stint as an assistant in Greeley to current Colorado coach Tad Boyle.

The NCAA commended the university for its “exemplary cooperation” in the case and said Hill “admitted that he failed in his responsibilities to promote an atmosphere of compliance and monitor his staff.”

The panel said two assistant coaches violated ethical conduct rules for lying to investigators and a third failed to cooperate with the probe.