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


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. (

– 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.



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)

College Basketball Talk’s Top 25: Xavier, Syracuse, Texas A&M are big winners

AP Photo/Willie J. Allen Jr.
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At this point in the season, I think it is still too early to solely base rankings off of on-the-court results. That’s why you’re going to find North Carolina higher in this poll than likely anywhere else on the internet. Until we see what the Tar Heels look like with Marcus Paige — which, mind you, could happen on Tuesday night when they host Maryland — I’m not sure I’m ready to drop them, even for a team that looks as good as Michigan State or Kansas.

The biggest risers of the week: Xavier and Syracuse, who both won big tournaments over the Thanksgiving holiday. They also both happened to knock off rivals in the process, as the Musketeers blew out Dayton while the Orange knocked off UConn.

1. Kentucky (6-0, LW: No. 1): Kentucky got a real scare over the weekend, as Tyler Ulis hyper-extended his elbow against South Florida. He appears to be just fine.

2. Maryland (6-0, LW: No. 2): The Terps have not looked great early on this season, but they’re going to get a real test on Tuesday when they visit UNC.

3. North Carolina (5-1, LW: No. 3): Here’s to hoping Marcus Paige is healthy when Maryland comes to visit this week.

4. Michigan State (7-0, LW: No. 4): Denzel Valentine has been sensational this season, but the most impressive part of Michigan State’s win over Providence on Sunday was that they did it while Valentine was in foul trouble and struggling to shoot the ball.

5. Kansas (4-1, LW: No. 6): The Jayhawks had a pretty good week. They won Maui, they blew out a good Vanderbilt team, Wayne Selden showed up and Cheick Diallo got eligible. I hope Bill Self bought some lottery tickets.

6. Villanova (6-0, LW: No. 5): I really like the Wildcats this year, I do, but I dropped them a spot for two reasons: 1. I thought Kansas was better entering the season and the Jayhawks looked terrific this week in Maui, before Cheick Diallo played, and 2. Villanova hasn’t beaten anyone of note yet. Next Monday they get Oklahoma. We’ll know then.

7. Iowa State (5-0, LW: No. 7): The Cyclones are 5-0 with wins over three high-major programs, but their best win may be the win over Chattanooga. I think we’ll really get a feel for how good this team next month, when, in a 12-day stretch, they get Iowa, Northern Iowa and Cincinnati on the road.

8. Oklahoma (4-0, LW: No. 8): The Sooners put a whooping on Wisconsin on Sunday afternoon, the kind of performance that made it very clear Oklahoma is a contender this season and Wisconsin is not. Buddy Hield has been terrific, but so has big man Ryan Spangler.

9. Duke (6-1, LW: No. 10): The loss to Kentucky continues to look like the aberration in Duke’s early season schedule, as they rolled over Utah State and Yale this week. The big news: Luke Kennard has finally found his rhythm, as he scored 22 points and went 4-for-5 from the floor on Sunday.

10. Virginia (5-1, LW: No. 11): Virginia has won four straight since their loss at GW, scoring at least 80 points in every game and never giving up more than 66. It’s not the stiffest of competition, but it should go to show you (like I said at the time) that the loss at GW said more about GW than Virginia.

11. Xavier (7-0, LW: No. 21)
12. Purdue (6-0, LW: No. 15)
13. Vanderbilt (5-1, LW: No. 16)
14. Miami (5-1, LW: No. 9)
15. Syracuse (6-0, LW: UR)
16. Texas A&M (6-1, LW: UR)
17. Gonzaga (4-1, LW: No. 17)
18. Oregon (5-0, LW: No. 25)
19. Cincinnati (7-0, LW: No. 20)
20. Baylor (4-1, LW: No. 22)
21. Butler (4-1, LW: No. 23)
22. UConn (4-2, LW: No. 18)
23. Providence (6-1, LW: UR)
24. West Virginia (6-0, LW: UR)
25. SMU (4-0, LW: UR)

DROPPED OUT: No. 12 Cal, No. 13 Arizona, No. 14 Indiana, No. 19 Notre Dame, No. 24 Wichita State

WEEKLY AWARDS: Denzel Valentine’s big week, Kansas makes a statement

Denzel Valentine
(AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)
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PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Denzel Valentine, Michigan State

In the title game of the Wooden Legacy, a game that was billed as a matchup between the two best players in college basketball — Valentine and Kris Dunn — Valentine was downright bad …

… by his standards. He finished with “just” 17 points, six assists and five boards. I say “just” because, in the previous two games of the tournament, the Spartan superstar averaged 30.5 points, 10.0 boards and 8.0 assists. He’s been, hands down, the best player in college basketball this season, and that didn’t change this week.


  • Ben Bentil, Providence: Kris Dunn is the guy that is going to get all the national praise, but it was Bentil’s emergence that was critical for the Friars. He averaged 21.7 points and 6.0 boards in three games in the Wooden Legacy, carrying PC when Dunn was battling foul issues.
  • Wayne Selden, Kansas: The highlight of Selden’s week was scoring 25 points on 8-for-11 shooting in the Maui title game win over No. 19 Vanderbilt. For the week, he averaged 19.3 points and shot 12-for-17 from three.
  • Justin Robinson, Monmouth: Robinson averaged 25.7 points in three games for Monmouth at the Advocare Invitational. The Hawks beat No. 17 Notre Dame and USC in the process, only losing to Dayton by three.
  • Justin Jackson, North Carolina: Remember when Justin Jackson was struggling? He averaged 21.5 points, 9.0 boards and 5.0 assists in wins over Northwestern and Kansas State. That came on the heels of a 25-point performance in the loss at Northern Iowa.
  • Henry Ellenson, Marquette: Ellenson notched three straight double-doubles for the Golden Eagles this week, which included 16 points and 11 boards in a win over Ben Simmons and LSU.

TEAM OF THE WEEK: Kansas Jayhawks

Kansas headed out to Maui as a team that many weren’t really sure what to make of. They looked good against Michigan State for 30 minutes, then they blew that game as Denzel Valentine went bananas. They had as much depth as anyone in the country, but Brannen Greene was suspended, Cheick Diallo was ineligible and Wayne Selden was the most notable of a handful of talented players that had been somewhere between inconsistent and ineffective this year.

That all changed in Maui — well, other than Greene’s suspension — as Kansas rolled over Chaminade, UCLA and Vanderbilt to bring home the tournament title. Blowing out Chaminade was to be expected. But beating down a talented UCLA team? Dominating a very good Vanderbilt squad? That’s the Kansas we’ve been hoping to see show up for a few years now. The question is whether or not it’s sustainable, and at least on paper, it appears to be. Selden’s shooting percentages will come back to earth, but his raw numbers are less important than his confidence and aggressiveness. Frank Mason and Devonte’ Graham are going to continue to take pressure off of each other in the back court. Perry Ellis isn’t going anywhere.

I questioned whether or not Kansas was truly one of the nation’s elite when the season started. I think they answered that question for me.


  • Xavier: The Musketeers not only won the Advocare Invitational in Orlando, they blew out in-state — and former Atlantic 10 — rival Dayton in the finals.
  • Syracuse: The Orange are going to be a factor in the ACC this season. How much? I don’t know. But after winning the Battle 4 Atlantis by knocking off No. 18 UConn and No. 25 Texas A&M, it’s clear they’re going to be involved all season.
  • Northeastern: The Huskies picked up a road win against No. 15 Miami on this buzzer-beating jumper.
  • Arkansas-Little Rock: The Trojans picked up their second huge road win of the year, going into Tulsa and knocking off the Golden Hurricane. They’re now 5-0 on the season, having also won at SDSU.
  • Tournament winners: West Virginia knocked off Richmond and San Diego State to bring home the Las Vegas Invitational title, No. 24 Cincinnati beat Nebraska and George Washington in the Barclays Center Classic and Marquette knocked off LSU and Arizona State to win the Legends Classic.


Tuesday: No. 2 Maryland at No. 9 North Carolina, 9:30 p.m.
Wednesday: Butler at No. 24 Cincinnati, 7:00 p.m.
Wednesday: Louisville at No. 3 Michigan State, 7:15 p.m.
Wednesday: No. 13 Indiana at No. 6 Duke, 9:15 p.m.
Saturday: No. 11 Arizona at No. 10 Gonzaga, 3:15 p.m.