The Morning Mix

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There were a ton of great games last night. Thanks to a big night from the ACC, the 2012 ACC/Big Ten Challenge ended in a 6-6 draw. Up next is the Big East/SEC Challenge which begins tonight. But let’s not rush to the couch just yet, we have a lot to cover before 7:00 p.m.

Let’s hit the links.

 

Thursday’s Top Games:
7:00 p.m. – New Hampshire @ Connecticut
7:30 p.m. – South Carolina @ St. John’s
8:00 p.m. – No. 8 Kentucky @ Notre Dame
8:00 p.m. – Tennessee-Martin @ Memphis
9:00 p.m. – Marquette @ No. 7 Florida
9:30 p.m. – Seton Hall @ LSU
10:00 p.m. – Long Beach State @ Loyola Marymount

 

Read of the Day:
Is it time to pull the plug on The Big East? Rumble In the Garden weighs the options in a read you need to make sure you get to. Read it. (Rumble In The Garden)

Read of the Day:
Eamonn Brennan looks back on the career of now “Former-UCLA Bruin” Josh Smith. Eamonn mixes in the expectations, comedy and sadness that made up the underwhelming career of the hefty big-man. Eamonn nailed this one, he really did. Read it. (ESPN)

Read of the Day:
Say hello to your newest D-I basketball program, Grand Canyon University. A Deadspin classic. Read it. (Deadspin)

 

Tweet of the Day:

@LMULions: Charlie Brown is a Lion. Go Lions! #LMULions pic.twitter.com/uxWgqYtr

 

Top Stories:
Duke’s comeback win adds to their resume, Plumlee becomes PoY candidate: The Blue Devils looks lethargic in the first half at Cameron Indoor Stadium against Ohio State last night. But a dominant performance by Mason Plumlee and a big second half from Quinn Cook carried to Blue Devils to yet another impressive victory.

Ohio State’s lack of balance will be their downfall: Coming in to the season, the question regarding Ohio State was “who would step up other than Craft and Thomas?”. It became clear last night that a month in to the season and we still don’t have an answer.

Creighton’s porous defense showed up again as Bluejays fall to Boise State: In order for Creighton to be considered truly elite this season, they had to get tougher on the defensive end. On Wednesday night, they were unable to get enough stops and couldn’t keep up with a surprisingly good Broncos team.

North Carolina State to honor Jimmy-V by wearing special uniforms: In arguably one of best tributes of the young season, the Wolfpack will honor their late coach and inspirational sports icon by wearing special “Don’t ever give up” jerseys for their game against UConn next Tuesday as part of The Jimmy-V Classic.

Miami got a marquee statement win over Michigan State: The Hurricanes looked like one of the ACC’s top teams last night as their veteran leadership and talent took over in a resounding 67-59 win over the Spartans. The fans stormed the floor as Jim Larranaga got his biggest win as head coach of the ‘canes.

Conference-USA is making moves following Tulane and East Carolina’s departure: Having lost several key members to the Big East, C-USA has reportedly added Middle Tennesee and Florida Atlantic from the Sun Belt Conference. I’m seeing a trend here. Sun Belt to C-USA, C-USA to Big East, and Big East to ACC.

Just how good is Indiana? Erik Kuselias and Vin Parise from the NBC Sports Network discuss the Hoosiers potential for success this season.

 

Hoops Housekeeping:
– Virginia’s Malcolm Brogdon will redshirt this season after to failing to recover in time from a foot injury. (Washington Post)

– South Carolina’s two-sport star Bruce Ellington will return to the basketball team until the football team resumes practices for their bowl game. (Garnet and Cocky)

– Stanford junior Anthony Brown will miss the rest of the season because of a hip injury. The guard has not played for the Cardinal since their game against Belmont on the 18th. (San Francisco Chronicle)

– Georgetown and Florida will not be making up their cancelled aircraft carrier game. (ESPN)

 

Observations & Insight:
– A lot of good quotes here from Kentucky point guard Ryan Harrow, who has missed the last four games because of illness and family issues. The Wildcats head to Notre Dame tonight to take on the Fighting Irish in the Big East/SEC Showdown. (Courier-Journal)

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

– Could the ACC Tournament be headed to Brooklyn? Louisville legend Darrell Griffith thinks so. (SNY.tv)

– Is Louisville actually a better fit that Maryland? Andrew Jones thinks the Cardinals rate much, much higher than the Terrapins. (Fox Sports Carolinas)

– What does the Big-XII need to do in order not get lost in the realignment shuffle? (Burnt Orange Nation)

– Loyola doesn’t just want to rule the MAAC this year, they want to take over the city of Baltimore, and wins over Towson, UMBC and Coppin State have helped to give the Greyhounds the title as “Kings of the City”. (Baltimore Sun)

– Another excellent read on the demise of the WAC. (Mile High Mids)

– Raphielle Johnson provides everything you need to know about the west coast hoops scene for the rest of the week. (NBE Basketball Report)

 

Odds & Ends
– There are three teams out there that just might end up losing every single game they play. (Run The Floor)

– Kirk Herbstreit was in attendance for tOSU vs. Duke last night at Cameron Indoor. Unfortunately, it looks like he couldn’t get tickets for his two boys. (Busted Coverage)

– Worst.Timing.Ever. Josh Smith quits team, appears on game program. (@BaxterHolmes)

– Don’t worry UConn fans, just because you were left out of the ACC doesn’t mean the World is over. (The UConn Blog)

 

Dunk of the Day:
“Mason Plumlee has is tall and can jump very high.” – Eamonn Brennan (The Mock Session)

 

 

Video(s) of the Day:
Our very own @RobDauster got a shout out on Around The Horn yesterday. But just to be clear, it’s “Dawster” not “Dowster”. Trust me, I feel for him. The first day of school was always rough for me too.

 

 

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Donovan Mitchell leads No. 12 Louisville past Clemson

LOUISVILLE, KY - JANUARY 11:  Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Louisville Cardinals shoots the ball during the game against the Pittsburgh Panthers at KFC YUM! Center on January 11, 2017 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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No. 12 Louisville played their first game without Quentin Snider of Thursday night and it looked like they should play every game without Quentin Snider.

The Cardinals shook off an early nine-point deficit with a 29-10 run to close the first, eventually pounding Clemson into submission in a 92-60 win in the Yum! Center.

Donovan Mitchell led the way for the Cardinals, scoring all 18 of his points in the first half. Deng Adel added 18 points of is own while VJ King, who started in place of the injured Snider, finished with 14, the most he’s scored in ACC play. Perhaps more importantly, that trio finished 7-for-15 from beyond the arc in the win.

Perimeter scoring and perimeter shooting has been an issue for the Cardinals all season long. King is the only one of Louisville’s top five perimeter options that shoots better than 38 percent from the floor, and without Snider available, he’s the only one that shoots better than 34 percent from three. Snider is also the team’s sole point guard, and there were real concern about how this team was going to perform without him.

On Thursday, they did just fine.

Saturday will be a different story.

The Cardinals will square off with No. 10 Florida State, who just forced 18 turnovers against Notre Dame on Tuesday. The Irish are seventh-nationally in protecting the ball, meaning that we are going to get a much better feel for whether or not those point guard issues are real.

No. 11 Oregon blows by Cal, but Dillon Brooks leaves with “lower left leg injury”

Oregon Ducks forward Dillon Brooks (24), collides in the first half against California in an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Jan. 20, 2016, in Eugene, Ore. Brooks later left the game with an injury on a different play. (AP Photo/Thomas Boyd)
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Oregon defeated Cal on Thursday. The score was 86-63. That hardly matters, though, considering what else occurred in Eugene.

Ducks star Dillon Brooks left the game with a “lower left leg injury,” which is particularly ominous considering it was a surgically repaired left foot that sidelined Brooks all summer and kept him from joining Oregon on the floor until mid-November.

As of Thursday evening, there was no specific clarification, leaving only questions not only about Brooks’ health but what Oregon will have to potentially do without him.

The Ducks can win without Brooks. They went 8-1 before Brooks ever logged 30 minutes in a game and blasted Washington State in Pullman when Brooks got ejected after just seven minutes. They didn’t need him to dismantle the Bears, shooting 58 percent from the floor for the game and 54.2 percent without him in the second half. Jordan Bell made 11 of 12 shots for a career-best 26 points, and three other Ducks scored in double figures.

It wouldn’t be ideal, but Oregon could tread water to a high seed with him missing a chunk of time as they’ve shown at different times throughout this season. The Ducks only have one matchup left with both UCLA and Arizona, coming back-to-back in the first week of February.

But if it’s a serious injury, it necessitates a recalibration of expectation for Oregon.

Brooks scored 23 and had the game-winner as the Ducks handled No. 3 UCLA its lone loss this season and had 28 points when they blew out then-No. 22 USC to end December. Brooks is too talented, too versatile and too important for a prolonged absence to be meaningfully weathered. The NCAA tournament just too often demands too much from teams to be without a player of Brooks’ caliber.

For Oregon to reach the heights that many predicted for it since last spring, Brooks has to be on the floor.

The wait for the diagnosis and prognosis, not just for Brooks but for Oregon’s season, is on.

After win at Iowa, what’s to be made of No. 25 Maryland?

Maryland guard Anthony Cowan is fouled by Iowa forward Ryan Kriener, right, during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017, in Iowa City, Iowa. Maryland won 84-76. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
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Maryland, after an 84-76 win at Iowa, now stands at 5-1 in the Big Ten. The Terps are the only team in the league with five conference wins and are tied with Wisconsin in the loss column atop the Big Ten.

Is it time to start taking them seriously as Big Ten title contenders?

It just might be, less so for who Maryland is proving to be but, in part, for how the schedule lays out for the Terps.

The resume right now isn’t overly impressive, other than sheer volume of wins at 16. There’s the loss at home to Nebraska for one thing, but they haven’t been overly convincing in a win since their opener against Illinois.

Many of their issues were on display against the Hawkeyes, a team that has lodged a number of good wins but still shows loads of inconsistency with a roster heavily dependent upon freshmen. Maryland led by 15 in the first half and held a double-digit lead well into the second half. Then, as carelessness set in, it was gone with just over 6 minutes to play and the Terps trailed with as little as 3 minutes left.

Turnovers were nearly the Terps’ undoing. They committed 21 of them that led to 30 points for the Hawkeyes, who are hardly known for turning opponents over. Maryland, though, has consistently failed to take care of the ball with a turnover rate hovering around 20 percent.

What saved them against Iowa was, what (or who) else, than Melo Trimble. One of the game’s most clutch players, Trimble hit back-to-back 3s after Maryland fell behind to turn a three-point disadvantage into a three-point lead that the Terps wouldn’t hand back to a feisty Iowa squad. Trimble finished with 20 points, five rebounds and five assists.

So, 21 turnovers and a blown lead salvaged only by Trimble’s heroics doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in a team with as many question marks as Maryland, even if it came on the road.

The Terps, though, do keep winning and while close games do invite luck and chance into the equation, Trimble’s presence and Maryland’s track record suggests it may be able to survive the variance.

Then you’ve got to look at that schedule. They’ve got Rutgers at home before a tricky Minnesota-Ohio State road trip. Then of the Big Ten teams currently with two losses or less, Maryland gets Purdue and Michigan State at home and has just one game apiece against Wisconsin and Northwestern, though both are away from College Park.

So while it may be hard to fully buy in to Maryland given its so-so offense and unremarkable defense, the Terps have made it nearly to the end of January with just two losses and have a manageable road ahead.

That’s something that has to be taken into account, just like Maryland in the Big Ten.

Ohio’s Antonio Campbell to miss season with foot injury

SPOKANE, WA - MARCH 22:  Head coach Saul Phillips of the North Dakota State Bison reacts in the first half against the San Diego State Aztecs during the Third Round of the 2014 NCAA Basketball Tournament at Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena on March 22, 2014 in Spokane, Washington.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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The MAC race just took a turn, as Ohio’s star forward Antonio Campbell will miss the rest of the season with a broken bone in his foot.

Campbell, who was the best player in the conference, was averaging 16.4 points and 8.9 boards.

“We feel awful for Tony,” said head coach Saul Phillips. “Sick to our stomach. We wish him nothing but a speedy and full recovery. We are proud of all that he’s accomplished while wearing a Bobcat uniform and thank him for his many contributions to our program.”

Ohio is 11-5 on the season and 3-2 in the MAC.

Indiana’s OG Anunoby out indefinitely with knee injury

Indiana's OG Anunoby (3) dunks in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against the Michigan in the quarterfinals at the Big Ten Conference tournament, Friday, March 11, 2016, in Indianapolis. Michigan won 72-69. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
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The exact extent and specific diagnosis of the injury suffered by Indiana sophomore OG Anunoby isn’t yet public, but the Hoosiers offered a brief update Thursday.

“OG sustained a knee injury this past Wednesday night’s game against Penn State and is in the midst of ongoing medical evaluations,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said in a statement released by the school. “He will be out indefinitely.”

Anunoby went down clutching his knee late in the first half against the Nittany Lions and did not return, with many fearing the severity of the injury after Crean delivered an emotional post-game interview following Indiana’s three-point win.

The 6-foot-8 forward has largely been considered a potential lottery pick in this June’s NBA draft. He’s averaged 11.1 points and 5.4 rebounds per game this season.

Indiana’s first game back is Saturday at home against Michigan State followed by road games against Michigan and Northwestern the following week. The Hoosiers are 13-6 overall and 3-3 in the Big Ten.