The Morning Mix

1 Comment

There are a grand total of eight games being played tonight between Division-I teams. That should probably tell you what were working with today. But just because the action on the hardwood has dried up momentarily doesn’t mean the news cycle slows down.

Lets hit the links.

Thursday’s Top Games: 
7:00 p.m. – No. 23 Wichita State @ Tennessee
7:00 p.m. – Middle Tennessee @ Belmont
10:00 p.m. – Jackson State @ Washington State
10:00 p.m. – Washington @ Seattle
Read of the Day:
Mike DeCourcy was tasked with the difficult assignment of ranking the top-35 March Madness moments that were featured in the NCAA’s celebration of the tournament’s 75th anniversary. Read it. (The Sporting News)
Top Stories:
CBT Podcast discusses whats going on with The Big East: Troy Machir and Daniel Martin discuss the best course of direction for the Catholic-7, the demise of BracketBusters, “Buy or Sell” on Illinois and North Carolina, and a sideline celebration debate for the ages.

Jabari Parker will decide on December 20th: The second ranked player in the class of 2013, The Simeon (Ill.) superstar, who is the second ranked recruit in the class of 2013 will choose between BYU, Duke, Florida, Michigan State and Stanford a week from today.

Rodney Williams throws down the first 360-slam of the season: Despite nearly breaking his back on the landing, Minnesota’s resident high-flyer took off with rotation against North Dakota State.

Memphis’ holiday wish list: The Tigers need toughness. Their star players need star power. The list is long for Josh Pastner’s bunch.

Exam week essay on the practicality of advanced statistics: The use of tempo-free and advanced statistics has become more commonplace in recent years thanks to the work of guys like Ken Pomeroy and Dan Hanner. What is your opinion on the use of advanced statistics as analysis aids. What value do these metrics add to post-game evaluation in your opinion?
Hoops Housekeeping
– St. Joe’s forward Halil Kanacevic was suspended two games for flipping “the double bird” at the Villanova student section during the finals minutes of “The Holy War” on Tuesday night. (SB Nation Philly)

– Creighton’s Josh Jones, who passed out prior to the Bluejays game last week against Nebraska has been diagnosed with an atrial flutter and will miss the next month of play as he must undergo another open heart surgery. (Omaha World-Herald)

– Missouri and Arizona have agreed to a home-and-home series that will begin in at the McKale Center in 2015. (Kansas City Star)

– Minnesota freshman Wally Ellenson broke his left hand during an October practice. It was thought that the 6-foot-4 combo guard would take a redshirt season, but decided against in and logged his first minutes of the season against North Dakota State. (ESPN 1500 Twin Cities)

– There still is no timetable on when Virginia guard Jontell Evans will return to the starting lineup. (Washington Post)

– Bradley center Will Egolf underwent successful surgery on Wednesday to fix a broken nose he sustained in practice on Tuesday. (Peoria Star Journal)

– Alabama has lost more depth from their already thin frontcourt, as back-up center Carl Engstrom is done for the year with torn knee ligaments. (The Sporting News)
Observations & Insight:
– This broke late last night: Sources indicate that the “Catholic-7” is leaning towards breaking off from the Big East. No word yet if they will form their own hoops conference or will join the A-10. (ESPN)

– Marquette AD Larry Williams had some strong quotes regarding the potential disbanding of the “Catholic-7” from the Big East. (ESPN)

– A great-read on building success, the lure of the A-10, and the basketball brand. (Rumble in the Garden)

– More rumors on MAAC expansion. (Big Apple Buckets)

– Wait a minute? Gonzaga wants to leave the West Coast Conference? I don’t know if I agree with that. (Slipper Still Fits)

– The Bilas Index has returned to rank the top-68 teams in the country (ESPN Insider)

– Did you know that the Boston Terriers have already suffered three losses this year at the hand of buzzer-beaters? (Daily Free-Press)

– Matt Norlander gets a bit wordy at the end, but provides os good numbers about John Calipari’s favorability numbers in the state of Kentucky. (Eye on College Basketball)

– The key for Ohio State this season is getting production out of guys not named Craft or Thomas. Sophomore Sam Thompson is one of those guys who is starting to emerge as a legitimate scoring option for the Buckeyes. (Fox Sports Ohio)

– The shot-blocking numbers being put up by Kansas center Jeff Withey are bordering on “unimaginable”. (Wichita Eagle)

– A “by the numbers” look at UConn’s frontcourt and how they stack up against the competition. (Connecticut Post)

– A solid look at four Big-Ten coaches who have been impressive after a month of hoops. (Rush The Court)
Odds & Ends:
– West Virginia mascot cited for violation after using uniform’s musket to kill bear. (College Basketball Talk)

– Another yearly rendition of “The six simple rules for storming the court”. (Midwest Sports Fan)
Picture of the Day:
In case you needed a reminder on how to do a rivalry the right way, Kentucky and Louisville remind us. (Kentucky Sports Radio)
Dunk(s) of the Day:
I knew Jared Berggren was good, but I did not know he could do this.

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)

UMBC becomes first No. 16 seed to beat No. 1 seed in beatdown of Virginia

Getty Images

UMBC made sports history on Friday night by becoming the first No. 16 seed to beat a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. The America East champions pulled off a shocking 74-54 upset over No. 1 seed Virginia in the South Region.

The Retrievers (25-10) not only made history by beating a No. 1 seed — they also knocked off the top overall seed in the NCAA tournament in dominating fashion. Tied at the half, UMBC jumped out to a double-digit lead and maintained its dominance throughout the second half by consistently knocking down three-pointers and keeping the pressure on.

Senior guard Jairus Lyle, the team’s hero in the America East title game, finished with 28 points to pace the Retrievers as he went 9-for-11 from the field.  Joe Shurburne (14 points), Arkel Lamar (12 points) and K.J. Maura (10 points) also finished in double-figures for UMBC, as they extended its winning streak to six games.

Virginia (31-3) won the ACC regular season by four games. They took the league’s conference tournament as well. The Cavaliers were the most consistent team in college basketball this season. The Cavaliers lost sixth man DeAndre Hunter to the season with an injury earlier in the week. They were still a heavy favorite in this game.

But Virginia struggled to knock down three-pointers. It was clear Virginia started playing scared once the upset became apparent. And that’s how once of the biggest upsets in sports history went down. Sophomore guards Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome led Virginia with 15 points each.

Virginia shot only 41 percent (23-for-56) from the field and 19 percent (4-for-22) from three-point range as they couldn’t find consistent offense or a go-to player.

UMBC advances to battle No. 9 seed Kansas State in the second round of the NCAA tournament. The Wildcats advanced earlier on Friday night with a balanced effort in a win over No. 8 seed Creighton.

UMBC social media won the night as much as the basketball team

Getty Images

The eyes of the sports world are on UMBC. Cinderella has arrived.

The No. 16 seed shocked No. 1 seed Virginia by double digits on Friday night as the Retrievers became the first No. 16 seed to defeat a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

UMBC’s basketball team wasn’t the only group from the school ready to go on Friday night.

The school’s social media presence was trolling everyone and showing tons of swagger as the Retrievers built a second-half double-digit lead on Virginia.

The UMBC Athletics account called out pundits, trolled doubters and had fun with fans during a special moment in sports history.

Some examples:

Now that the historic win has gone down, UMBC, and their social media account, have become immortal.

No. 1 Xavier takes down No. 16 Texas Southern

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Xavier got off to a slow start, but rallied to run past No. 16 Texas Southern for a 102-83 NCAA tournament victory on Friday night in the West Region.

The Musketeers (29-5) had huge performances from seniors Trevon Bluiett (26 points) and J.P. Macura (29 points) as the duo combined for seven three-pointers and 35 points in the first 20 minutes. The duo ended up getting a third major scorer in the second half when senior big man Kerem Kanter stepped up his play. Kanter ended up with 24 points.

Xavier shot 45 percent (11-for-24) from three-point range and 54 percent from the field (35-for-64) in the win.

Texas Southern (16-20) went on a 16-0 run at one point in the first half to take a 20-13 lead. The Tigers had the momentum, but things quickly turned the other way when Xavier responded with its own 16-0 flurry.

The Tigers had five double-figure scorers, led by point guard Damontrae Jefferson with 20 points, but they couldn’t get stops on the other end. Guard Derrick Bruce finished with 18 points while Robert Lewis (14 points), Donte Clark (12 points) and Trayvon Reed (10 points) also finished in double-figures.

The Tigers started this season 0-13 as they lost all road games against tough competition. The SWAC champions rallied to win eight straight games before the NCAA tournament and put up an admirable fight before falling to the Big East regular season champions.

Xavier moves on to face the winner of No. 8 seed Missouri and No. 9 seed Florida State as the Musketeers could have a tough matchup against either team.

No. 4 seed Auburn survives off-night, beats No. 13 Charleston

Donald Miralle/Getty Images
1 Comment

Auburn did everything they possibly could to become the third No. 4 seed to fall to a No. 13 seed in their first round game of the NCAA tournament.

Charleston, who was essentially playing without their best player, Joe Chealey, who was a shell of himself as he battled an ankle injury, turned the ball over 21 times and shot 5-for-22 from beyond the arc and still managed to find a way to be ahead in the final three minutes.

The Tigers, who are eighth in the country in free throw shooting percentage, made just 15-of-32 from the charity stripe. They missed all 13 threes they shot in the first half — a first for the program in Bruce Pearl’s tenure — and finish the night just 5-for-24 from beyond the arc while shooting 35.6 percent from the floor.

After Bruce Brown missed a pair of free throws with 14 seconds left, Charleston’s Grant Riller had a shot to tie the game. He missed, Auburn finally made a free throw down the stretch, and the Tigers escaped with a 62-58 win that they barely deserved.

The most important part of that sentence, however, is “win”.

There’s a reason that the saying in March is “survive and advance”. As long as you survive, as long as you live to advance and play another day, there’s always a chance.

I don’t think there is a single player on that Auburn roster, on the Auburn coaching staff or in the state of Alabama that will believe that the way they played on Friday night will be enough to get this team — who were co-champions of the SEC that went wire to wire in first place in the league — where they want to be this year. And to be frank, with the injury to Anfernee McLemore and the shoulder issue that is plaguing Bruce Brown, there’s a chance that this team may be too beaten down to make any kind of serious run in March.

But they’re still here.

Hope is still alive.

And that counts for something.

Miles Bridges goes into takeover mode as No. 3 Michigan State survives Bucknell

Abbie Parr/Getty Images
1 Comment

It took a while for No. 3 seed Michigan State to get into a rhythm, but once they did, Bucknell, the Patriot League champs, didn’t have enough of an answer.

After heading into halftime with just a 44-40 lead, the Spartans held Bucknell to just 14 points in the first 16 minutes of the second half, pushing their lead as high as 18 points in an 82-78 win. The Bison hit a flurry of shots in the final seconds to make the final score look much more flattering than the second half actually was.

For Michigan State, however, the story of this game was Miles Bridges.

Oft-derided this season as a talent that couldn’t take over when his team needed him to, a player that was said to have “no game” by Big Ten expert that shall remain nameless, the NBC Sports Preseason Player of the Year took over against Bucknell. He finished with 29 points, nine boards and four assists, taking 22 shots from the floor with just seven of them coming from beyond the arc.

He went into takeover mode without simply settling for jumpers.

And that is when the Spartans end up at a different level. That’s when they reach their peak, and if we are going to see that Bridges for the rest of the NCAA tournament, then maybe — just maybe — this team has a chance to live up to the potential we all bestowed upon them at the start of the season.

The Spartans will advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament, where they will face off with the winner of tonight’s No. 6 TCU-No. 11 Syracuse game.