The Morning Mix

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We had ourselves quite the weekend. While there wasn’t an overwhelming amount of high level hoops on this weekend, there was a lot of action. There was a bevy of highlights, and even more lowlights. The Morning Mix is going to get to them all.

By the way. Today is the beginning of “Exam Week”, which just so happens to be the lightest week of college hoops. If you have stuff to do at night this week, do it. You won’t be missing much.

Lets hit the links.
 
 
Monday’s Top Games: No joke, this is the entire D-I schedule for today
7:00 p.m. – Longwood @ No.15 Georgetown
7:00 p.m. – Mississippi Valley State
7:00 p.m. – Bryant @ Navy
7:30 p.m. – Alabama State @ Detroit
8:00 p.m. – Southeastern Illinois @ Louisiana-Monroe
8:00 p.m. – William Carey (NAIA) @ Southern
9:05 p.m. – Seattle @ Eastern Washington
 
 
Read of the Day:
More intriguing details about the African-American Studies classes at UNC and the participation of college basketball players. Read it. (Raleigh News & Observers)
 
 
Top Stories:
Late Night Snacks: The best recap of Sunday’s action you will find, including why UNLV’s close victory over Cal could potentially cost them a few days in March.

Hollywood Union goes on strike against the Pac-12 Network: The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, one of the largest unions in Hollywood, plans to strike against the newly formed Pac-12 Network, calling it an “unfair employer”.

Noreen breaks out as WVU hands Virginia Tech first loss: The Mountaineers’ sophomore big man had a breakout performance against Virginia Tech, in which the Hokies were handed their first loss of the season.

Appalachian State center Brian Okam shoots worst foul shot ever: This is the worst foul shot you have ever seen. I’m sure there is an explanation as to why this was so bad, but it’s not really necessary.

Illinois no longer “a feel good story”, are now a real threat: Not many believed Illinois would be able to contend this season under John Groce. But thanks to the outstanding efforts of Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson, the Illini are 10-0 which includes a huge road victory over Gonzaga.

Unexpected challenger emerged in the MAAC this weekend: in a conference many felt had as many as six teams capable of winning the conference, Canisius was discussed as a few in the offseason, sits atop the standings with a 2-0 conference record. Bolstered by the arrival of head coach Jim Baron and son Billy, the Golden Eagles now 6-1 on the season after their 94-82 win over Marist on Sunday afternoon.

Taylor’s “Silent Night Game” is best tradition in hoops: The small NAIA school has gained a reputation for hosting the single best tradition in college hoops, and it took place this past weekend.

Is offense a concern for the Hoyas following ugly 49-40 win over Towson? The No. 15 Georgetown Hoyas are 7-1 with the loss coming against the nation’s top team in overtime. Despite this, the Hoyas are averaging just 49-ppg in their last three games.
 
 
Hoops Housekeeping
– UNLV star Mike Moser dislocated his elbow last night in the Runnin’ Rebels 76-7 win over California. His status remains up in the air, but he could be out for the remainder of the season (Eye on College Basketball)

– A big ol’ hat-tip is in order for Kansas center Jeff Withey, who graduated early this weekend (KUsports.com)

– Indiana sophomore Austin Etherington fractured his patella against Central Connecticut State on Saturday and will miss the remainder of the season (Indianapolis Star)

– Former Murray State guard Zay Jackson will be in court today for his arraignment. If he had taken a previously offered plea deal he could have limited the amount of jail time he gets. But because he turned it down, he may be looking at a lot more (Mid-Major Madness)

– Kentucky center Nerlens Noel is battling through knee soreness (Lexington Herald-Leader)

– Norvelle Pelle has yet to be cleared by the NCAA and is unlikely to play for Iona this season (SNY.tv)
 
 
Observations & Insight:
– In its last full year as a basketball power, the Big East Conference is showing its dominance over other BCS conferences. (Cracked Sidewalks)

– Mike DeCourcy provides a thorough look at the week ahead. (Sporting News)

– Some excellent commentary on the Ohio Valley Conference and expansionocalypse (OVC Ball)

– It shouldn’t be too shocking to see that Providence is 7-2. But all things considered, it’s pretty shocking that Providence is 7-2. (Hoopville)

– Jeff Borzello thinks it’s a good thing that Duke freshman Rasheed Sulaimon isn’t Austin Rivers (Eye on College Basketball)

– Following the Wildcats’ Big-5 victory over Penn on Saturday, Villanova head coach Jay Wright stated he feels optimistic about the future of the Big-5 (Philly.com)

– Mississippi State will travel to Loyola (Ill.) this weekend to face the Ramblers in a rematch of the historic 1963 “Game of Change”. This will be the first time the two programs have faced off since then. (Jackson Clarion-Ledger)

– After yet another loss, this time to in-state rivals Marquette, is it time for the Wisconsin Badgers to panic? (Bucky’s 5th Quarter)

– Younger fans are starting to board the Oklahoma State bandwagon, but it’s the older generation that needs to show support (The Oklahoman)
 
 
Odds & Ends:
– Gonzaga bench “Air Guitar” is the new “Hammer of Dill” (Backyard Sports)

– Texas and UCLA played at Reliant Stadium on Saturday. Only 3,000 people showed up. The following video needs to get burried and this game should never get discussed ever again. (Deadspin)

– It needs reiterating. The game between UCLA and Texas was a comedy of errors (Los Angeles Times)

– Mantaque Gill-Cesear: Future #AllNameTeam member (NBE Basketball Report)

– Northern Arizona commit Ako Koluna shatters another backboard. I saw another because he has a history of this (Big Sky Basketball)
 
 
Picture of the Day:
This is what “the worst foul shot ever” looks like prior to launch. (Backyard Sports)
 
source:
 
 
Dunk(s) of the Day:
Indiana’s Victor Oladipo is you clubhouse leader for “Poster Dunk of the Year”. (Ballin’ is a Habit)
 

 

Dunk(s) of the Day:
Archie Goodwin is in a close second place (Ballin’ is a Habit)
 


 
 
Video(s) of the Day:
Worst. Free throw. Ever.
 

Video(s) of the Day:
Rick Pitino gives one of the better press conferences in the country. Here he is answering a reporters phone during a presser. Improvisation at it’s finest.
 
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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)

Bubble Banter: Can Maryland or Notre Dame actually get a bid to the tournament?

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As we will do every day throughout the rest of the season, here is a look at how college basketball’s bubble teams fared on Saturday.

It’s worth reminding you here that the way winning are labeled have changed this season. Instead of looking at all top 50 wins equally, the selection committee will be using criteria that breaks wins down into four quadrants, using the RPI:

  • Quadrant 1: Home vs. 1-30, Neutral vs. 1-50, Road vs. 1-75
  • Quadrant 2: Home vs. 31-75, Neutral vs. 51-100, Road vs. 76-135
  • Quadrant 3: Home vs. 76-160, Neutral vs. 101-200, Road vs. 136-240
  • Quadrant 4: Home vs. 161 plus, Neutral vs. 201 plus, Road vs. 240 plus

The latest NBC Sports Bracketology can be found here.

WINNERS

MIAMI (RPI: 33, KenPom: 43, NBC seed: 8): Miami added a fourth Quadrant 1 win on Monday night by going into South Bend and picking off Notre Dame. The Hurricanes are in the conversation as a bubble team for a two reasons — they have a Quadrant 3 loss to Georgia Tech, and they had lost three in a row entering Monday night. What’s interesting with Miami’s profile is that they don’t really have any elite wins. They beat Middle Tennessee State on a neutral. They won at Virginia Tech, N.C. State and Notre Dame. That’s it. Those are their four Quadrant 1 wins. Their profile is probably strong enough to get them in, but I do think there is a world where they get a lower seed than you might be expecting.

MARYLAND (RPI: 54, KenPom: 41, NBC seed: Out): The Terps, who won at Northwestern tonight, seem to be in the mix on most of the places that I go to read about the bubble, and frankly, I just don’t get it. They do not have a Quadrant 1 win. They are 0-9 against Quadrant 1 opponents. In a year where the NCAA Selection Committee showed us just how much they value quality wins already, I’m not sure that they can build a profile that is strong enough to get a bid unless they beat Michigan on Saturday and win a couple of games against the top of the Big Ten in the Big Ten tournament. They’re at least three wins away in my mind. Like I said, I just don’t see it, but I figured it was worth mentioning here on a slow night.

LOSERS

NOTRE DAME (RPI: 68, KenPom: 33, NBC seed: Next four out): The Fighting Irish are in an interesting spot. Their profile is not exactly worthy of an at-large bid. But they’ve also been decimated by injury. Bonzie Colson is still out with a foot injury. So is D.J. Harvey. Matt Farrell and Rex Pflueger have both missed tie with injuries. If Colson can get healthy before the season ends and the Irish can win a couple games at or near full strength, they will have an interesting case to make. I do, however, think that would require winning two of their last three games. One of those three games is at Virginia, so they have their work cut out for them.

Calipari defends Diallo and gives insight into his own philosophy

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John Calipari was asked a question about struggling freshman Hamidou Diallo. He ended up giving an answer about his general coaching philosophy.

“Making them be responsible for who they are. In his case, I’m with Hami. He’s trying. He’s working,” Calipari said. “If he’s willing to do that and put in extra work, I’m for him. If you’re playing awful, I may not play you as much, but I’m going to play you and if you’re doing what we’re asking you to do, I’m going to encourage you.

“It would probably be easier when a guy plays poorly to say you’re out and i’m going with these seven I’m just not going to do that.”

Calipari likened the approach to what a well-intentioned parent might say to him about their son who is struggling.

“I would say (a parent) would say, ‘Coach, he’s responsible for himself, but please keep coaching him and let him know you love him and keep being there for him but hold him accountable,’” Calipari said. “‘If he’s not going to listen to you you should not play him. That’s what I think a parent that’s not trying to enable their son (should say).”

On the other hand, Calipari discussed what the opposite of that situation would look like.

“If they’re listening to an enabler, whoever that enabler is, I can’t help you,” he said. “I told you when I walked in the door, this is going to be about the players first and I’m trying to stay that course but they are responsible for themselves.

“If they can’t perform, I’m going to play you but when they’re not performing, you can’t be in there.”

Calipari can oftentimes be full of bluster – it’s an essential part of his Always Be Selling philosophy that’s won the hearts of countless five-star recruits and a national championship. But this looks to be an honest look into the way he views his job and role with his players. Give ultra-talented guys opportunity, but keep them accountable. It’s a simple thought, but one that few execute as well and as consistently as he does.

Texas Tech’s Keenan Evans “day-to-day” with toe injury

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It would appear that sixth-ranked Texas Tech may have avoided its worst-case scenario with star guard Keenan Evans.

The senior is considered day-to-day with a toe injury suffered Saturday in a loss at Baylor, and could play as soon as Wednesday against Oklahoma State, Red Raiders coach Chris Beard said Monday.

“It’s going to come down to just pain tolerance and can he move,” Beard said, according to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. “We all know Keenan is a warrior. He’s going to do everything he possibly can to play. … At the end of the day, just kind of how he reacts to his body.”

Evans is averaging 18.2 points per game for the Red Raiders, and his health is paramount for their attempt to unseat Kansas atop the Big 12. Texas Tech and the Jayhawks are locked in a first-place tie with matching 10-4 league records with four games to play. After the Red Raiders’ trip to Stillwater on Wednesday, they host Kansas on Saturday in a game that very well could decide the fate of the Jayhawks’ 13-year run of conference championships.

While the Big 12 race is certainly front of mind, the fact that Evans is potentially going to be able to play this week is a great sign for Texas Tech. Even if Evans does need to miss a game or two to get his toe fully healthy, the timeline and conditions Beard laid out Monday suggest that he’ll be good to go before the NCAA tournament for a Red Raiders team that certainly is a contender to finish its season in its home state – at the Final Four in San Antonio.

NCAA tourney chair addresses non-conference strength of schedule and quadrant system

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The way the NCAA tournament selection committee picks teams for inclusion into the sport’s crowning event is always under intense scrutiny. It’s a national past time, really.

One of the easiest targets is the RPI, an obviously flawed metric. It was the topic of discussion recently in the Omaha World-Herald, most notably the non-conference strength of schedule component.

That post spurred a lengthy response from Creighton athletic director and selection committee chairman Bruce Rasmussen, who defended the committee’s work with a metric that it acknowledges to be imperfect.

Here’s Rasmussen:

“Non-conference SOS is not a predominant tool in selections.

In fact, each year that I have been on the committee, we have discussed why you have to look beyond the number to evaluate a team’s non-conference strength of schedule, and even with this qualifier, non-conference schedule ranks well behind other factors such as how you did against other tournament caliber teams, did you win the games you were supposed to win, and how did you do away from home since winning away from home is difficult and the tournament games are all games away from home.

“I have argued each year that I have been on the committee that non-conference SOS should be taken off the team sheet, but until we develop a new metric it is staying. However, understand that the committee understands its fallacies (as we also recognize other weaknesses in the current RPI formula) and it is not a prominent factor in decisions.”

Rasmussen also examined the quadrant system being used:

“Many think that the first and second quadrants are silos and that every win in the first quadrant or every win in the second quadrant is treated equally.  I think it is important that while we refer to first and second quadrant wins, we also better communicate that this is only a sorting mechanism and each game in these quadrants is looked at differently. They don’t have the same value.”

So while it’s fair to question NCAA selection committee’s decisions and the way in which they make them, it’s clear there is an extensive amount of well-intentioned thought put into the process.

College Basketball Coaches Poll: Michigan State moves atop the Top 25

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Michigan State is your new No. 1 team in the country, according to the USA Today Coaches Poll.

The Spartans received 20 of a possible 32 first-place votes after their comeback from 27 points down to beat Northwestern on the road on Saturday.

Virginia is still sitting at No. 2 while Villanova and Xavier round out the top four. Duke climbed a few spots to No. 5.

Here is the full coaches poll:

1. Michigan State (20 first-place votes)
2. Virginia (8)
3. Villanova (4)
4. Xavier
5. Duke
6. Gonzaga
7. Texas Tech
8. Kansas
9. Purdue
10. North Carolina
11. Cincinnati
12. Wichita State
13. Auburn
14. Arizona
15. Ohio State
16. Michigan
17. Clemson
18. Rhode Island
19. Tennessee
20. Saint Mary’s
21. West Virginia
22. Nevada
23. Houston
24. Middle Tennessee State
25. Arizona State