The Morning Mix

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The Jets and Titans played on Monday Night Football last night. What does this have to do with hoops? it means there were probably more eyes on ESPN2 to watch Jim Boeheim earn his 900th career win.

There are 51 games on the docket tonight. Want to know how bad “Exam Week” was? The most games played on a single weekday night was 20. If there is one game you must watch tonight, it’s Stanford at No. 25 North Carolina State. Josh Huestis is having a breakout year and the Wolfpack are loaded with talent.

Lets hit the links.

Monday’s Top Games:
7:00 p.m. – Winthrop @ No. 7 Ohio State
7:00 p.m. – Richmond @ No.9 Kansas
7:00 p.m. – No. 20 Michigan State @ Bowling Green
7:00 p.m. – Western Kentucky @ Virginia Commonwealth (NBC Sports Network)
7:30 p.m. – Old Dominion @ Charleston
8:00 p.m. – Miami (FL) @ Central Florida
9:00 p.m. – Stanford @ No. 25 North Carolina State
9:00 p.m. – Oral Roberts @ No. 4 Arizona
9:00 p.m. – SMU @ Utah
10:00 p.m. – Holy Cross @ San Francisco
11:00 p.m. – UC Santa Barbara @ California
11:00 p.m. – Long Beach State @ UCLA
 
 
Read(s) of the Day:
Brendan Prunty did a lot of great work detailing just how the seven Catholic members of the Big East decided to and executed their departure from the conference. Make sure you read it. (New Jersey Star-Ledger)
 
 
Top Stories:
Jim Boeheim gets win No. 900: Syracuse held of a late Titans run in order to seal up the 900th victory of Jim Boeheim’s lengthy career. All 900 of his wins have come at the same institution. He sits by just Mike Krzyzewski and Bobby Night on the all-time wins list.

Following his 900th win, Jim Boeheim addresses gun control: During the press conference following his 900th career win, Jim Boeheim spoke about gun control issues that have risen in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting.

December needs to be less “cupcake heavy”:Every team needs to pad their schedules during the non-conference portion of the season. But the trickle down effect that forms causes the entire non conference landscape to get saturated with way too many uneventful basketball games.

Providence’s Ed Cooley sounds off on the Big East exit: The second year Friars head coach is excited about the prospects of a new league where basketball is the primary focus.

Villanova’s Jay Wright believes “Catholic-7” could be best hoops conference in the country: The head coach of the Wildcats believes the new conference would be, “from top to bottom” the best. Does he forget that the bottom includes the likes of DePaul, Providence, South Florida, etc.?

UConn honors Newtown tragedy victims in pregame ceremony: On Monday night, UConn got their opportunity to honor their fallen in-state citizens as the men’s basketball team held a heart-felt memorial before their game with Maryland-Eastern Shore.
 
 
Hoops Housekeeping
– Wichita State big-man Carl Hall will miss the next month because of surgery he had to fix a broken thumb (Wichita Eagle)

– UConn scholarship honoring Newtown shooting victims gets $80,000 boost from Geno Auriemma (New Haven Register)
 
 
Observations & Insight:
– Jim Boeheim got his 900th career win last night as Syracuse defeated Detroit 72-68. But as Jeff Goodman reminds us, it was just over a year ago when we weren’t exactly sure if Boeheim would make it to No. 900. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Former coach Bruce Pearl provides his thoughts on Jim Boeheim’s 900 wins at Syracuse (ESPN)

– A phenomenal-read about the dwindling hoops culture at Wake Forest and the athletic department’s willingness to allow it to happen. (Blogger so Dear)

– Conference-USA is so bad (How bad are they?) that Jeff Goodman doesn’t even think the conference deserves to have any representatives in March Madness. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Jay Bilas and Chad Forde discuss the top-10 draft picks as of right now. (ESPN Insider)

– Former-Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese said that he should take the blame for the conference’s implosion. (ESPN)

– The media practice of critiquing weekly poll voters has become over saturated. I only read one a week, and it’s always Gary Parrish. I recommend you do the same. The “Poll Attacks” is the snarkiest weekly-read in college hoops. But that’s why it’s also one of the best. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Notre Dame seems to be weighing their options following the Big East fallout. The Irish announced their move to the ACC earlier in the Fall, but with the departure of the Catholic-7, Notre Dame could find a home for their basketball program and independent football program. (Sports Illustrated)

– Evansville’s athletic director reiterated that there has been no discussions with the Horizon League (Evansville Courier-Press)

– This has been said before, but it does need to be reiterated: Kyle Wiltjer needs to evolved past just a spot-up shooter (Rush The Court)

– LIU-Brookyln lost their best player, Julian Boyd, to a season-ending ACL injury. But despite the loss,l the Blackbirds are still the favorites to win the NEC. (Big Apple Buckets)
 
 
Odds & Ends:
– Eastern Washington does their best Jack Taylor impression, attempts twice as many 3-pointers as they did field goals. (Big Sky BBall)

Only Casual Hoya could and would document all the crimes and misdemeanors that have taken place under Jim Boeheim’s watch at Syracuse (Casual Hoya)

– A litany of Kentucky-related dunk .gifs. The one at the top is the best. (Kentucky Sports Radio)

– Duke-transfer Michael Gbinijie might be the only person in the history of NCAA basketball to play for two 900-game winners. (Syracuse Post-Standard)
 
 
 Picture of the Day:
UTEP fans show their support for the families involved in the elementary school shootings in Newtown, CT during the Miners 62-60 loss at home against No.21 UNLV. (UTEP Athletics)

source:
UTEP Miner fans show support for those involved in the elementary school shooting in Newtown, CT.

 
 
Dunks(s) of the Day:
Doug Anderson finished with 18 points in Detroit’s 62-60 loss to Syracuse last night. 12 of his 18 points came on dunks. Enjoy.
 

 
 
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Bluiett back to Xavier for senior season

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Xavier lost one significant piece to the professional ranks this spring, but will return another.

Trevon Bluiett, the team’s leading scorer last year, announced via social media that he will be back to play his senior season with the Musketeers.

Chris Mack will return the bulk of a roster that struggled February only to make a run to the Elite Eight, but getting Bluiett for a final season makes the Musketeers especially dangerous. The 6-foot-6 Bluiett scored a team-high 18.5 points per game last year while also putting up 5.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists per night. He shot 37.1 percent from 3-point range, the second-best mark on the team. His return, even with point guard Edmond Sumner going pro amid his ACL tear recovery, makes Xavier one of the top teams in the Big East heading into the 2017-18 season.

Bluiett himself is enough to keep Xavier relevant in the league, but when he’s coupled with the likes of returners JP Macura, Sean O’Mara and Quentin Goodwin, plus a recruiting class featuring two four-star prospects, it’s not difficult to see a path for Mack’s group to a place where they can compete with the likes of Villanova and Seton Hall atop the league.

Welsh and Holiday returning to UCLA

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UCLA sustained some major, though expected, attrition from its roster this spring. On Tuesday, the Bruins announced a pair of significant contributors that will be back.

Thomas Welsh and Aaron Holiday will both return next season to the UCLA program, according to the school.

Welsh, a 7-foot center, averaged 10.8 points and 8.7 rebounds as a senior last year for the Bruins. He shot 58.5 percent from the floor and blocked 1.2 shots per game, and decided to declare for the NBA Draft without an agent before ultimately deciding to return to Westwood.

“Thomas has worked hard all spring,” UCLA coach Steve Alford said in a statement. “We supported him testing the NBA waters and are excited to have him returning for his senior year. He simply continues to develop each and every season.

“Thomas will be one of the top centers in college basketball next year and, undoubtedly, has a great chance to be a first-round pick in next season’s draft.”

The 6-foot-1 Holiday averaged 12.3 points and 4.4 assists last season while sharing a backcourt with Lonzo Ball, whose departure, along with those of TJ Leaf, Bryce Alford and Isaac Hamilton will leave UCLA with a very different look next season. The positive results, however, may not fluctuate too significantly with Welsh and Holiday coming back to play alongside two five-star recruits, Kris Wilkes and Jaylen Hands, as well as Lonzo’s younger brother LiAngelo.

West Virginia’s Macon forgoing final year

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West Virginia’s attempt to dethrone Kansas atop the Big 12 took a bit of a hit Tuesday.

Elijah Macon, a 6-foot-9 forward, announced his decision to forego a fifth year in Morgantown in order to pursue a professional career.

“First things first I would like to say thank you Bob Huggins and Erik Martin for believing in a young 15-year-old boy growing up from the Southside of Columbus, OH losing my mother and still having you guys push me to be the man I have become,” Macon said according to the school. “I can do nothing but thank you for all you and Mountaineer Nation (have) done for me. Unfortunately, I will not be returning for my senior season at WVU and instead sign with a(n) agent and play professional basketball. Thank you guys for all the love and support!”

Macon wasn’t a major contributor for the Mountaineers last season, averaging 6.3 points and 4.2 rebounds in 16 minutes per game, but he was an experienced and tough player who was well-versed in Huggins’ style and demands. Given the pace that the newly-fashioned Press Virginia plays at, depth is also paramount for them as a program.

Macon’s departure, though, may have been expected or at least partly anticipated by West Virginia. The Mountaineers signed five players in its most recent recruiting class, putting them one over their allotment of 13, so something had to give. West VIrginia will stay have interior depth, anchored by junior Esa Ahmad, so the loss of Macon is one they likely can weather, even if it may take some time to acclimate the newcomers.

“Elijah is in the process of completing classes during this summer school period that ends June 2 and will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in August,” Huggins said in a statement released by the school. “I respect his decision to become a professional basketball player and to go make money to support his family. He had a great four years with us, and we wish him nothing but the best.”

Key returning to Alabama for sophomore season

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Alabama’s top scorer is returning to school.

Braxton Key has withdrawn his name from the NBA draft and will be back with the Tide for his sophomore season, the school announced Tuesday.

“I spoke to coach Avery (Johnson) just over a week ago and informed him of my decision to withdraw my name from the NBA Draft and return to the University of Alabama for my sophomore season,” Key said in a statement. “I made that official when I sent my paperwork to the NBA league office Monday morning. I want to express my appreciation to my teammates, Coach Johnson and the entire coaching staff for giving me their full support while I went through this process.

“I am excited for the future of the Alabama basketball program and looking forward to getting to work as we prepare for next season. Roll Tide and Buckle Up!”

The 6-foot-8 forward averaged 12 points and 5.7 rebounds per game while shooting 43.3 percent from the field as a freshman. He gives Alabama four returning starts to pair with one of the country’s highest-regarded recruiting classes, headlined by five-star guard Collin Sexton. The Tide will also have an eligible Daniel Giddens, who previously transferred in from Ohio State.

Key didn’t seem likely to stay in the NBA draft, especially after he wasn’t invited to the combine, but his ultimate decision is a huge one for Avery Johnson as he looks to break through in his third season in Tuscaloosa with his first NCAA tournament appearance. 

Report: Justin Jackson to return to Maryland

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Maryland forward Justin Jackson is expected to return to school for his sophomore season, according to a report from FanRag Sports.

Jackson is an intriguing talent, a 6-foot-7 combo-forward with a 7-foot-3 wingspan that shoots 44 percent from three. But he’s also still developing his offensive game and consistency on the defensive end of the floor, which is why he was projected as a second round pick in this year’s draft.

With Jackson back in the fold, Maryland is a borderline top 25 team. They lost Melo Trimble to the professional ranks, but that’s something that Mark Turgeon has prepared for. With a sophomore class that also includes highly-regarded point guard Anthony Cowan and sharp-shooter Kevin Huerter, the Terps have a promising season ahead of them.