The Morning Mix

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Exam Week was pretty brutal, but we were rewarded with an excellent weekend of college hoops. We had two phenomenal games, a bevy of upsets, and a bunch of great plays, videos and quotes. In short, we have a lot to get to.

Lets hit the links.

Monday’s Top Games:
7:00 p.m. – Detroit @ No. 4 Syracuse
7:00 p.m. – Maryland-Eastern Shore @ UConn
7:00 p.m. – IPFW @ No.22 Notre Dame
7:00 p.m. – Valparaiso @ Oakland
8:00 p.m. – USC-Upstate @ Baylor
8:00 p.m. – No. 20 UNLV @ UTEP
8:00 p.m. – South Carolina State @ No. 12 Missouri
9:00 p.m. – Cornell @ Vanderbilt
 
 
Read(s) of the Day:
Jay Bilas relates the NCAA to the Kardashians. Yup. Read it. (ESPN Insider)

Read(s) of the Day:
Pat Forde dishes on Butler walk-on Alex Barlow, who hit the biggest shot of his career to beat top-ranked Indiana on Saturday. Read it. (Yahoo Sports)
 
 
Top Stories:
Contributions both large and small set stage for Mark Lyons’ gamewinner: Mark Lyons might get all the fanfare and press following his game-winning basket against Florida, but the Wildcats got contributions for various players, which ultimately set them up for success.

Florida’s failure to close out halves is what cost them in Tuscon: The No. 5 Gators looked to be in position to vault themselves into the top-3 in the in country. But three turnovers in their final five possessions doomed the Gators, and the Arizona Wildcats capitalized.

From music scholarship to high-major basketball, Andrew Del Piero getting minutes at LSU: The 7-foot-3 walk-on is also a former tuba player in the LSU marching band. But the big-man has put in a lot of hard work and is now a contributing member of the Tigers’ basketball program.

Mick Cronin sounds off on Big East realignment and defection of Catholic 7, says players should get paid: Cincinnati is currently in conference limbo thanks to the implosion of the Big East. Mic Cronin used the post game press conference following his team’s win over Marshall as the perfect time to open up about realignment, along with paying players.
 
 
Hoops Housekeeping
– Reigning NEC player of the Year Julian Boyd tore his ACL against Rice on Wednesday and will miss the rest of the year. The injury to the LIU-Brooklyn star forward is the worst case scenario for a Blackbird team already struggling to find it’s groove in the early season. (Blackbirds Hoops Journal)

– Former-UCLA big-man Josh Smith is interested in transferring to Georgetown or Kansas (Casual Hoya)

– Louisville sophomore forward Angel Nunez will be transferring out of school at the end of the semester (WDRB.com)

– Virginia Tech freshman forward Marshall Wood fractured a bone in his foot during the Hokies upset loss to Georgia Southern this weekend. The injury will not require surgery, but the team is now down to just seven scholarship players (The Washington Post)

– Rumors swirled last week about an arrest of Syracuse Sophomore Michael Carter-Williams for an incident at a local mall. Turns out he was busted for shoplifting (a robe and glove) by mall police, and the matter was handled internally. (College Basketball Talk)
 
 
Observations & Insight:
– Indiana’s loss to Butler just reiterates that there just isn’t a true dominant no. 1 team in the country (Eye on College Basketball)

– Butler’s win over Indiana was as historic as it was well-timed. (Eye on College Basketball)

– the anatomy of Alex Barlow’s game-winning shot against Indiana (Indianapolis Star)
– Memphis blew a first half lead and lost to Louisville in a tightly contested non-conference match-up. But don’t blame the Tigers for falling flat or giving up. (Memphis Commercial Appeal)

– Rhode Island pulled off an upset win over SMU this weekend. But Larry Brown wasn’t all that shocked. (Hoopville)

– Oregon State junior forward Devon Collier continues to emerge as a viable frontcourt threat for the Beavers (NW Sports Beat)

– A big shout out to Rutgers associate head coach David Cox, who coached the Scarlet Knights to victory on Saturday. Cox is filling in for Mike Rice while the head coach serves a three game suspension. I bring up Cox because believe it or not, he was one of the coaches of my freshman basketball team at St. John’s College High School in 2000. He was also the school’s Dean of Students. (Asbury Park Press)

– Dick Weiss does not think that the Rutgers program is headed in the right direction under Mike Rice. (New York Daily News)
 
 
Expansionocalypse:
– Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard had some strong thoughts as well about the Big East break up (My Central New Jersey)

– Now here’s something that doesn’t get discussed too much: Where does South Florida end up in all this mess? (Voodoo Five)

– Cincinnati and UConn want to create their own conference that covers the entire continental United States (Deadspin)

– Creighton is being looked at as a potential member to the new basketball-only Big East Catholic-7 conference. But are the Bluejays the only team from the MVC that could be on the move? (Peoria Journal-Star)

– Jim Boeheim gives the best post-game press conference bar none. Following Syracuse’s win over Canisius on Saturday the head coach gave another gem of a presser. Read the entire transcript which includes his thoughts on the implosion of the Big East and the Michael Carter-Williams shoplifting incident (The Citizen)
 
 
 Picture of the Day:
Butler’s Big Blue II flashing a big smile after his team’s huge win over Indiana at the Crossroads Classic.

source:
 
 
Dunks(s) of the Day:
Cincinnati stayed undefeated thanks to their 72-56 win over Marshall. But Elijah Pittman made sure the Bearcats didn’t leave completely unscathed.
 


 
 
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Sunday’s NCAA Tournament Elite Eight schedule, tip times, and announcer pairings

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Regional Finals – Sunday, March 26

2:20 p.m.,CBS, New York
No. 7 South Carolina vs. No. 4 Florida (Verne Lundquist, Jim Spanarkel, Allie LaForce)

5:05 p.m., CBS, Memphis
No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 2 Kentucky (Jim Nantz, Grant Hill, Bill Raftery, Tracy Wolfson)

Steve Alford: ‘I’m very happy at UCLA’

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UCLA head coach Steve Alford was still processing an 86-75 season-ending loss to Kentucky in the Sweet 16 on Friday night when he had to answer questions about another blueblood program.

Sine the dismal of Tom Crean at Indiana, Alford has been one of the names rumored to be in the mix for the coaching vacancy. A reporter in the press conference in Memphis didn’t even get a chance to finish his question before Alford cut him off and a publicly state that he was happy in Westwood.

“I said it last week, and I’ll reiterate it again even more so, I guess, that I love Los Angeles,” Alford said. “To begin with, it’s a beautiful place, and our family has fallen in love with it. I’ve got two sons now, Kory first and now Bryce, that have graduated. Bryce is done, so he’s graduating from UCLA, so I’ve got two sons that are graduates from there, a daughter that loves the school she’s going to in Thousand Oaks. I’m very happy. I’m at UCLA. I don’t know of a lot of people that are out there wanting to leave UCLA.

“This is a pretty special place. We’ve worked awfully hard. Our staff has worked hard. We’ve got the No. 2 recruiting class coming in next year. We’re opening a brand-new, state-of-the-art, 60-plus million practice facility, Mo Ostin Center, that is going to be spectacular that we’ve worked awfully hard to be a part of that, and I want to see that through, and we’ve got some special kids that are coming to join us.

“I’m very, very happy where I’m at, and hopefully, that’ll continue.”

Alford won a national championship with the Hoosiers in 1987, scoring more than 2,400 points in his career under head coach Bob Knight. He has been with UCLA since 2013, reaching the Sweet 16 in three of his four seasons with the Bruins.

Crean was fired on March 16 after nine season in Bloomington.

Lonzo Ball has officially declared for the 2017 NBA Draft

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Following a season-ending loss in the Sweet 16 of the 2017 NCAA Tournament, UCLA freshman point guard unsurprisingly announced that he will enter the NBA Draft.

“That was my final game for UCLA. I appreciate the fans,” Ball told reporters.

The 6-foot-6 point guard has a strong case to be the No. 1 overall pick. It could be almost too enticing for the Los Angeles Lakers to pass on a Southern Cal product if the ping pong balls fall in their favor. New Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka were in Memphis for Friday night’s Sweet 16 matchup with Kentucky.

Ball, in an All-American freshman season with the Bruins, averaged 14.7 points, 6.1 rebounds and a nation’s best 7.6 assists per game, while shooting 56 percent from the field and 42 percent from three.

He ended his college career with an 86-75 loss to the Wildcats, scoring 10 points, off 4-of-10 shooting, with eight assists.

VIDEO: Florida’s Chris Chiozza beats Wisconsin at the buzzer

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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NEW YORK — So you didn’t think the NCAA Tournament had enough excitement this year?

Wisconsin and Florida solved that problem for you.

The Badgers started things, as they erased a 12-point deficit in the final 4:15 to force overtime, a stretch that included an 8-0 run at the end of regulation that was capped by a Zak Showalter running three with 2.5 seconds left on the clock to tie the game at 72.

Wisconsin jumped out to a lead in overtime, but the combination of an inability to make free throws and and this epic chasedown block from Canyon Barry left the door open for the Gators, who eventually won the game on this running three from Chris Chiozza:

What.

A.

Game.

If we get a better one than this, I just hope I’m courtside for it.

KeVaughn Allen led the way for the Gators with 35 points, and no one else on the Gators scored more than eight points, but it didn’t matter. The Gators are still headed to the Elite 8, and Mike White will have a chance to play for the right to go to the Final Four in his first NCAA Tournaments.

Replacing a legend like Billy Donovan was never going to be easy, but White is doing an admirable job.

The other subplot here: With the win, Florida becomes the third member of the SEC in the Elite 8, and with a regional final against South Carolina on Sunday afternoon, it guarantees that there will be at least one SEC team in the Final Four.

While there were celebrations in the Florida locker room, Wisconsin’s was one of devastation.

The Badgers started four seniors, including tournament stalwarts Bronson Koenig and Nigel Hayes, who played in their 17th career NCAA Tournament games.

Hayes had 22 points, but he’s going to be haunted by the free throws he missed. He was 7-for-14 from the line on the night, including four missed freebies in overtime. The end was similarly heart-breaking for Koenig, as he was a non-factor in overtime due to an injury he suffered on the possession before Showalter’s game-tying three.

Both of them are going to spend years thinking ‘What if?’ That’s how the NCAA Tournament works.

Everyone leaves in tears, either because they’re cutting down the nets at the Final Four or because their season — their career — just came to an end.

Hayes and Koenig were no different.

VIDEO: Canyon Barry saves Florida with epic chase down block

Rob Carr/Getty Images
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Florida’s Canyon Berry had the best chase down block since LeBron James in the 2016 NBA Finals.

It kept Wisconsin’s lead at two points and gave the Gators a chance to tie and, eventually, win the game.

Look at this: