The Morning Mix

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Non-conference rivalry week continues to roll on. Colorado got all they could handle from a resilient Colorado State team. Gonzaga traveled to Washington State and escaped with a win. Florida won the Sunshine State Showdown against Florida State in embarrassing fashion. We got a lot to get to today, so let;s get right to it.

Time to hit the links.

 

Thursday’s Top Games:
7:00 p.m. – Arkansas-Little Rock @ No. 11 Cincinnati
7:30 p.m. – Vanderbilt @ Xavier
8:00 p.m. – No. 16 Creighton @ Nebraska
8:00 p.m. – Long Beach State @ No. 4 Syracuse
10:00 p.m. – UC-Santa Barbara @ No. 17 San Diego State

 

Picture of the Day:
This is what the history of the WAC looks like. I can’t keep up. (Mid-Major Madness)

source:
Read of the Day:
Eric Prisbell’s story on Gabreille Ludwig, born Robert John Ludwig, is worth your time. Enough said. Read it. (USA Today)

Read of the Day:
Luke Winn’s weekly power rankings. That is all. Read it. (Sports Illustrated)

Read of the Day:
Mike DeCourcy details why Creighton assistant coach Steve Merrifield, who led Hampton to a 2001 NCAA tournament upset victory over, needs to be given a second chance. (Sporting News)

 

Top Stories:
Is Florida an “elite” team? The Gators throttled the Seminoles last night. in fact they’ve throttled every and all teams they’ve faced this season. But should the Gators be mentioned in the same breath as Duke, Indiana, and Louisville?

Chicago State is leaving the Great West, joining the WAC: Conference realignment has hit the lowest level of Division I college hoops, as Chicago State will hope to help revive the WAC by leaving the upstart Great West Conference.

Utah honors Majerus and crushes Boise State: On the night they honored their late head coach, the Utah Ute put on their best performance of the season, defeating a very hot Boise State team.

Inaugural episode of the CBT Podcast: College Basketball Talk has joined the podcasting fray. Listen to host Troy Machir discuss the latest in college hoops with CBT writer Rob Dauster.

 

Hoops Housekeeping
– Danny Berger’s health condition continues to improve since collapsing at a Utah State practice on Tuesday. (CBS Sports)

– Siena players visited two student sin the hospital who had been in injured in a car crash heading home from the Siena vs. Albany game from earlier in the week. (Albany Times-Union)

– Rutgers in filing a lawsuit against the Big East in order to avoid paying the conference’s exit fee. (New York Daily News)

 

Observations & Insight:
– Jason King’s Kings Court is quickly becoming one of my favorite weekly reads. He packs a bunch if interesting insight and analysis into each one. Plus, it’s in list form. Who doesn’t love that? (ESPN)

– We all expected the West Virginia vs. Marshall game to be a physical one. But I don’t think any of us could have predicted the final outcome, that’s to a handful of late ejections. (Deadspin)

– Matt Norlander suggests that the programs once coached by Rick Majerus should get together on an annual basis to honor the late great coach (Eye on College Basketball)

– Florida’s absolute drubbing of Florida State won’t help the Seminoles land super recruit Andrew Wiggins. Luckily for FSU, the co-eds came out in full force to convince Wiggins to return to Tallahassee. (The Dagger)

– Here is how John Calipari’s Kentucky teams have fared through the first eight games of the season. (Kentucky Sports Radio)

– The NBA Draft is months and months away. But if you were to ask the experts who the top choice for the No. 1 overall pick, you would get a lot of different answers. (CBS Sports)

– Raphielle Johnson’s Left Coast Layups post is a weekly must-read that will get you caught up to speed on every from the West Coast. (NBE Basketball Report)

– With ten days off in between games, UMass is hoping to stay focused during exam week. (Hoopville)

– Don’t look now, but the UIC Flames are 6-1 and are turning the corner under head coach Howard Moore thanks to a renewed focus. (ESPN Chicago)

– That is a very good question. What exactly have we learned about the ACC thus far? (College Chalktalk)

– Gary Parrish’s story about Memphis junior Geron Johnson is worth your time. (Eye on College Basketball)

 

Odds & Ends
–  A seat upgrade app that helps fans find empty seats in the lower bowl during games? Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. (Washington Post)

– With the news that Utaha State’s Danny Berger collapsed at practice on Tuesday, it should be noted that a player at Red Bank High School in New Jersey died on Monday after collapsing during a scrimmage. (New Jersey Star-Ledger)

– Club Trillion founder Mark Titus provides his top-12 NCAA power rankings (Grantland)

 

Dunk of the Day:
Kansas’ Ben McLemore and UNLV’s Anthony Bennett are stealing all the freshman dunk headlines, by High Point’s John Brown should not be left out of the discussion.

Devontae Harper throws down a #SCtop10 play for IUPUI

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)

Swanigan staying for sophomore season

Purdue's Vince Edwards (12), Purdue's Caleb Swanigan (50) and Purdue's A.J. Hammons (20) celebrate during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against the Illinois in the quarterfinals at the Big Ten Conference tournament, Friday, March 11, 2016, in Indianapolis. Purdue won 89-58. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
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Purdue will once again be rolling out a formidable frontcourt in the 2016-17 season.

Boilermaker big man Caleb Swanigan is withdrawing from the NBA Draft to return to West Lafayette for his sophomore season, the school announced Wednesday.

The NBA is right there and always will be,” Swanigan said in the school’s press release, “but you always have to have patience and do what’s best for you.”

Purdue is losing 7-foot senior A.J. Hammons, but will be once again teaming Swanigan with Isaac Haas (7-2) and Vince Edwards (6-8) that will allow them to roll out a supersized lineup that is sure to be a difficult one to face off against.

The 6-foot-9, 250-pound Swanigan, who likely would have landed as a second-round pick, averaged 10.2 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.2 assists and was a finalist for the Wayman Tisdale Award for the country’s top freshman.

“We are excited that (Swanigan) has withdrawn from the NBA Draft and will return to Purdue,” head coach said Matt Painter in a statement released by the school. “He has the potential to make a huge jump from his freshman season and will be a big part of what we do next year. He received great experience going through this process and will use the feedback he received to make him a more diverse player.”

Purdue is probably a rung down from Michigan State and Wisconsin at the top of the league, but the return of Swanigan pulls them closer to competing at the top of the league next season.

USC’s Nikola Jovanovic not expected to return to USC

Southern California forward Nikola Jovanovic pauses on the court during an NCAA college basketball game against Washington State, Friday, Jan. 1, 2016, in Pullman, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
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Nikola Jovanovic’s college career has come to a close.

The USC center will not withdraw his name from NBA Draft consideration by Wednesday’s 11:59 p.m., a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. Jovanovic, a 6-foot-11 Serbian, averaged 12.3 points and 7.0 boards as a junior with the Trojans.

Jovanovic is not expected to be drafted, which means that Andy Enfield’s club will be losing two players to the professional ranks with eligibility to spare that likely won’t end up on an NBA roster next season. Julian Jacobs, who averaged 11.6 points, 5.5 assists and 4.9 boards, signed with an agent back in April.

The Trojans were a top 25 team last season despite many considering them to still be “a year away”. But with two starters departing, the Trojans will be a borderline preseason top 25 team as opposed to a top 15 team.

Marcus Lee withdrawing from the draft, transferring from Kentucky

Kentucky forward Marcus Lee dunks during the first half of a second-round men's college basketball game against Indiana in the NCAA Tournament, Saturday, March 19, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
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For the second time this season and just the sixth time in John Calipari’s tenure at Kentucky, the Wildcats are losing a player to transfer.

Marcus Lee announced on Wednesday that he will be withdrawing from the NBA Draft, but the 6-foot-9 forward will not be returning to Kentucky. He will be transferring out of the program to a new school.

“I want to thank the University of Kentucky, the basketball staff and the Big Blue Nation for supporting me over the years,” Lee said. “I’m sorry it took me so long to come to this decision, but I’m trying to do what’s right for me and my family. I’ll always think fondly of my time at Kentucky.”

Lee averaged 6.4 points and 6.0 boards this season, seeing his first major minutes as a member of the Wildcats. But he seemed destined for a bench role if he had opted to return to Kentucky this season as John Calipari has landed a recruiting class that includes five-star freshmen Bam Adebayo, Wenyen Gabriel and Sacha Killeya-Jones.

The tough part?

It does not appear that Lee will be able to finish his degree and be eligible to play immediately next season. He’ll have to sit a year at whatever school he opts to transfer to.

“Marcus Lee informed us today that he is pulling his name out of the draft but has decided he is going to transfer to a school out west to be closer to his family,” head coach John Calipari said. “We talked it through together and discussed the team next season, which he said had no bearing on his decision. I also told him he was a semester away from graduating. With that said, he was still adamant that, after the combine experience, a year off and regrouping would be the best thing. As always I support my players and their decisions.”

Lee joins Charles Matthews as members of last year’s Wildcats that are transferring out of the program. Darnell Dodson (Southern Miss), Stacey Poole (Georgia Tech) , Ryan Harrow (Georgia State) and Kyle Wiltjer (Gonzaga) are the other four players that have transferred.

Isaiah Briscoe to return to Kentucky

Eric Johnson, Isaiah Briscoe
(AP Photo/James Crisp)
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Isaiah Briscoe announced on Wednesday that he will be returning to Kentucky for his sophomore season.

The 6-foot-3 guard had one of the more difficult decisions to make for players in this year’s draft class. On the one hand, there was a very real chance that he would go through this draft without getting picked. He was a role-playing guard on last year’s team that isn’t a point guard, isn’t big enough to be a two-guard and was a total liability shooting the ball.

But he’s returning to a team that is as loaded as the group that won their first 38 games two years ago, particularly in the back court. He’ll be playing behind De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk who both play essentially the same role that Briscoe does: playmaking guards that thrive with the ball in their hands. And since Briscoe can’t shoot, he may not be the best option at the three, where Derek Willis will likely see minutes.

In other words, Briscoe returning to school is essentially a two-year decision.

Kentucky now awaits an announcement from Marcus Lee on whether or not he will be returning to school.

James Blackmon Jr. to return to Indiana, Troy Williams to remain in draft

James Blackmon Jr.
(AP Photo/Doug McSchooler)
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James Blackmon Jr. will be returning to Indiana for his junior season, the school announced on Wednesday morning.

Blackmon missed the final 22 games of his sophomore season following surgery on his knee in December. As a freshman, Blackmon averaged 15.8 points and shot 46 percent from beyond the arc.

Indiana now awaits word on the decision that will be made by Troy Williams. A junior swingman, Williams has a shot to be an early second round pick if he opts to stay in the draft. There is a report from the Indy Star that he will keep his name in the draft, but the program has yet to confirm that news.

Losing Williams would hurt, but it’s a loss that Indiana can overcome. The emergence of O.G. Anunoby as a versatile defender means that the Hoosiers have a guy that can be a defensive stopper and can allow them to play small and fast. Anunoby also has not proven to be prone to bouts of poor decision-making, which arguably may make him a better fit.