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We’ve got a pretty good slate of games on tap tonight, including the much-anticipated Crosstown Classic between Xavier and Cincinnati. The college basketball world continues to show their support to those who were involved in the horrific Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting.

Lets hit the links.

Wednesday’s Top Games:
7:00 p.m. – Cornell @ No. 1 Duke
7:00 p.m. – Florida International @ No. 5 Louisville
7:00 p.m. – Xavier vs. No. 11 Cincinnati
7:00 p.m. – Illinois State @ Dayton
7:30 p.m. – Ohio @ Massachusetts
8:05 p.m. – Tulsa @ No. 17 Creighton
8:00 p.m. – South Dakota State @ Belmont
8:00 p.m. – Oregon @ UTEP
9:00 p.m. – No. 23 North Carolina @ Texas
9:00 p.m. – Oakland @ West Virginia
10:00 p.m. – Pacific @ St. Mary’s
10:00 p.m. – Northern Iowa @ No. 21 UNLV
11:00 p.m. – Ole Miss @ Loyola Marymount

Read(s) of the Day:
This is one of the best articles I’ve read all month and potentially all year. Jason King does a masterful job detailing the priceless tutelage provided by John Lucas to troubled players and coaches. If you read only one article today, make sure it’s this. (ESPN)

Top Stories:
Providence honors Newtown victims with jersey, 26 empty seats: Providence played on Tuesday night and their way of honoring the memory of the victims was to wear the colors of Sandy Hook Elementary School. Many schools have done a marvelous job of honoring Sandy Hook and Newtown, but the good people at Providence should be applauded for their swift efforts.

VIDEO: How did Jim Boeheim make it to 900? Vin Parise joined NBC Sports’ SportsTalk to break down exactly how Jim Boeheim made it to this spectacular point in his illustrious coaching career.

Holiday Wish List for Ohio State: In order for the Buckeyes to make consecutive Final-Fours, they will need to ask for more minutes for Shannon Scott and increased consistency from Lenzelle Smith and LaQuinton Ross.

Can Miami really be the second best team in the ACC? The Hurricanes have a front line big enough to compete with anyone in the league and has a balanced attack that features five players averaging double figures. Miami picked the right season to peak. With the rest of the ACC down, Jim Larranaga has enough talent to make a push to be the second best team in the league.

Hoops Housekeeping
– We’re less than 48 hours away from finding out where Jabari Parker will attend college, and the father of the nation’s top recruit doesn’t know which school his son will choose. (ESPN Chicago)

– Wichita State’s Ron Baker becomes third Shocker starter to miss time due to injury (Wichita Eagle)

– Louisville center Gorgui Dieng likely to sit out with injury until after New Year’s Day (The Dagger)

– Duke redshirt freshman Marshall Plumlee is set to make his debut tonight when the Blue Devils take on Cornell. The youngest Plumlee brother had been sidelined with a stress fracture in his foot for the last two months (Rant Sports)

– Purdue reserve guard Jay Simpson will miss the rest of the 2012-2013 season due to a foot injury and will be eligible to seek a medical redshirt hardship waiver. (Lafayette Journal Courier)

Observations & Insight:
– A nice-read on Memphis’ dunk machine D.J. Stephens, who has evolved from athletic project to senior leader. (Memphis Commercial Appeal)

– Nicole Auerbach spent some time in the Queen City and profiled the anatomy of a rivalry. (USA Today)

– A miscommunication between Keith Appling and Tom Izzo resulted in Bowling Green players being a little upset with the way the Spartans finished off their ten point victory over the Falcons. (MLive.com)

– Winthrop head coach Pat Kelsey spoke out about the Newtown shootings during his teams press conference following their loss to Ohio State last night. (Cincinnati.com)

– Former-Seton Hall head coach Bobby Gonzalez has some words of wisdom for currently suspended Rutgers head coach Mike Rice (SNY.tv)

– Joe Lunardi has some bracket concerns with the new unnamed Catholic League (ESPN)

– Jeff Borzello updates us on his Freshman of the Year awards. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Four midseason transfers that can provide an instant impact for their new teams. (The Dagger)

Odds & Ends:
– A “where are they now” on a bunch of players who were recruited by Billy Gillispie at Kentucky. (Eye on College Basketball)

– State Fair JuCo star Kenny-Red Chery has committed to Baylor. Future #AllNameTeam member for sure. (Our Daily Bears)

– Ten reasons why Bearcat fans hate Xavier. Don’t hate on the Xavier popes. Those guys are the best. (Bearcats Blog)

– Aaron Craft’s mom explains her son’s trademark rosy red cheeks. (The Dagger)

– Kansas sophomore Naadir Tharpe did “The Robot” on the bench during the Jayhawks destruction of Richmond. (The Mock Session)

 Picture of the Day:
The Providence honored the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting during the Friars game against Colgate last night by memorializing 26 seats at The Dunkin’ Donuts Center. (College Basketball Talk)

source:

Dunks(s) of the Day:
Auburn’s Chris Denson shut it down against Tennessee Tech last night. # GameOver.

Video(s) of the Day:
This is the funniest faux Christmas infomercial you will ever see (The Basketball Jones)

Video(s) of the Day:
Highlights from VCU’s 32-point win over Western Kentucky, as seen on the NBC Sports Network

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#POSTERIZED: Donovan Mitchell caps Cards win with an oop

LOUISVILLE, KY - JANUARY 19:  Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Louisville Cardinals reacts after making a three point shot to end the first half against the Clemson Tigers at KFC YUM! Center on January 19, 2017 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images
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Louisville used a huge first-half run to pull away from Syracuse, and a Donovan Mitchell slam to put the icing on the cake.

The Cardinals sophomore caught a pass one-handed and seamlessly threw it home to deliver the signature moment of Louisville’s 88-68 win over the Orange on Saturday

LaVar Ball walks back statement on Lonzo’s Laker future

LEXINGTON, KY - DECEMBER 03: Lonzo Ball #2 of the UCLA Bruins reacts after making a three-point basket against the Kentucky Wildcats in the second half of the game at Rupp Arena on December 3, 2016 in Lexington, Kentucky. UCLA defeated Kentucky 97-92. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images
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The only person better at generating headlines than Lonzo Ball seems to be his father, LaVar. The elder Ball managed to do so again this weekend, once for saying something wild and then again for walking those comments back.

LaVar told KCUB Sports Radio 1290 in Arizona that UCLA star Lonzo would play for the Lakers and that he would discourage other teams from taking the stellar point guard at the top of the draft. Later, he said he was only posturing.

“I’m not trying to say he won’t play for a different team,” LaVar told ESPN. “But I’d like him to play for the Lakers because it’s home, and I’d love him to learn from Magic [Johnson]. He’s the best guard ever to me, and nobody better for Lonzo to learn from than Magic Johnson.”

Lonzo is averaging 14.8, 7.6 assists and 6.8 rebounds per game for the Bruins, who stand at 26-3 on the season. He’s in the mix to be the potential No. 1 pick in June’s NBA draft.

LaVar has already stated on multiple occasions that Lonzo is better than two-time MVP Steph Curry of Golden State. He’s clearly supremely confident – and outspoken – about his son’s talent. With two younger sons, LaMelo and LiAngelo, set to soon begin their own college careers, LaVar’s exuberant proclamations may just be getting started.

Duke and Krzyzewski have “a decision” to make as injuries linger

DURHAM, NC - NOVEMBER 26:  Amile Jefferson #21 talks with Grayson Allen #3 of the Duke Blue Devils during the game against the Appalachian State Mountaineers at Cameron Indoor Stadium on November 26, 2016 in Durham, North Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images
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Duke missed the production of veterans Grayson Allen and Amile Jefferson on Saturday in its 55-50 loss to Miami, the Blue Devils’ second-straight loss after falling to Syracuse earlier in the week. It also missed their influence on the offensive end.

Allen missed the game with an ankle injury while the foot problem that sidelined Jefferson for a pair of games in January continues to be an issue and limited to minor second-half minutes Saturday. Without the pair, Duke shot 31.8 percent from the floor and had 13 turnovers against the Hurricanes.

We need those guys to calm people down on the offensive end,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said after the game. “The continuity on the offensive end is not up to par with the defense.”

Both players will be re-evaluated before Tuesday’s home contest against Florida State, but Jefferson’s injury would appear to be the most concerning given it has lingered for well over a month now.

“I’ve got to make a decision with Amile,” Krzyzewski said. “He’s not running. He is not running at all.”

Duke could likely make it work in the short term if it was short just one of the Allen-Jefferson duo, but without both it stresses the ballhandling, playmaking and inexperienced frontcourt all at the same time. Luke Kennard was the only Blue Devil to crack double figures scoring against the ‘Canes while freshmen Marques Bolden and Harry Giles, who both have had their injury issues, were relatively ineffective in player fewer than 20 minutes apiece. Both Kennard and Jayson Tatum played a full 40.

At the start of the season, Duke had the look of a juggernaut, but given the multitude of issues they’ve faced seemingly from the jump, it has a bit of a slog with only a seven-game winning streak to have eased their pain all year.

What made the Blue Devils look so formidable before the season was their sheer level of talent. With Allen and Jefferson ailing, the move for Krzyzewski might be to just bet on that talent in the NCAA tournament rather than jockey for seeding position. He could keep Jefferson and Allen on the shelf as they heal, give Giles and Bolden a ton of run and then just make a go of it in the Big Dance, betting on the talent overcoming the inconsistency of the season.

Like Krzyzewski said about Jefferson, he’s got a decision to make.

VIDEO: Indiana’s Hartman proposes to girlfriend on Senior Night

OMAHA, NE - MARCH 20: Collin Hartman #30 of the Indiana Hoosiers reacts against the Wichita State Shockers during the second round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the CenturyLink Center on March 20, 2015 in Omaha, Nebraska.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images
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Indiana’s Collin Hartman hasn’t appeared in a game this year after suffering a torn ACL in the offseason. Still he managed to make one heck of a highlight this weekend.

The Hoosier senior took the opportunity of his senior night speech to propose to his girlfriend, an Indiana cheerleader.

She said yes.

Hartman’s night wasn’t the only one that was a success, as Indiana snapped a five-game losing streak with a win Saturday over Northwestern.

Is Gonzaga a fraud? Did Gonzaga need to lose? Answering key Zags questions after BYU loss

SPOKANE, WA - FEBRUARY 25:  The BYU Cougars celebrate their 79-71 victory over the Gonzaga Bulldogs at McCarthey Athletic Center on February 25, 2017 in Spokane, Washington.  (Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images)
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There are going to be a lot of questions asked about Gonzaga following their loss to BYU late on Saturday night

We answer all of those questions for you right here:

Is Gonzaga a fraud?: So let me get this straight: You think that Gonzaga is a fraud because, after winning 29 straight games and totally outclassing everyone in their conference for two months, they lost to a program that has beaten them four times in the last four years? Come on.

The Zags are still sitting atop KenPom’s efficiency ratings. They’re still sitting atop Sagarin’s ratings. They’re still the second-favorite team to win the national title, according to Vegas Insider’s futures. The team at the top of that list, Duke, took a similarly awful loss at home earlier this year, falling to an N.C. State team that has won one game in the six weeks since. You might have asked if Duke was a fraud then. You would’ve been wrong about that, too. West Virginia lost at home to Oklahoma earlier this year. Are they frauds, too?

The fact of the matter is that the Zags blew a 16-point lead at home to a team that lost to San Diego earlier this year. That’s really bad. No one is trying to sugar coat it. It’s also the first time this season that they’ve put out this kind of a performance. The first time in 29 games. The first time in four months.

Weird things happen in college basketball. This is probably one of them.

Did Gonzaga need to take a loss before the start of the tournament?: No.

I hate that line of thinking. Taking a loss is not some kind team-defining wake-up call, especially not when it’s a program like Gonzaga, a program that is defined as much by their lack of March success as anything. Fair or not, that’s how the Zags are viewed nationally, even if that perception — as my buddy Gary Parrish of CBS Sports detailed here — is inaccurate based on the actual tournament results. But the fact remains that this program has never been to a Final Four. Wichita State has. Butler has. VCU has. Those are the teams from outside the establishment that have played in April.

Gonzaga has not

And that is the monkey on this team’s back.

Yes, having a ‘1’ in the loss column is going to take some of the attention and some of the pressure off in March, but that’s not going to change the fact that this is the best Gonzaga team that Mark Few has ever had. That’s going to be the narrative enveloping this team in March, and heading into the tournament with a loss isn’t going to change that.

SPOKANE, WA - FEBRUARY 25: Head coach Mark Few of the Gonzaga Bulldogs works from the sideline in the second half against the BYU Cougars at McCarthey Athletic Center on February 25, 2017 in Spokane, Washington. BYU defeated Gonzaga 79-71. (Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images)
Head coach Mark Few (Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images)

Are they still going to be a No. 1 seed?: Probably.

The Zags would have been a lock to be a No. 1 seed out west had they entered Selection Sunday without a loss to their name. Barring some kind of insanity, they will probably still be a No. 1 seed if they can win the WCC tournament, especially if that title includes another win over Saint Mary’s. Where things get tricky is if the Zags drop a game in the WCC tournament. In that case, whoever ends up winning the Pac-12 tournament will probably have a strong argument to be seeded above the Zags.

Can they be trusted to win a national title?: This is where things get tricky.

I think the idea of needing to take a loss late in the season is dumb, but I do subscribe to the thinking that Gonzaga needed to be tested in a close game before taking a loss means that their season is over. The Zags hadn’t trailed in the second half for 15 straight games before Saturday, and it showed. They lacked poise down the stretch. They made defensive errors. They turned the ball over. They struggled to find good shots in their offense. For lack of a better way to phrase it, the Zags looked overwhelmed by the moment.

Will they learn from this? Because they need to.

But there’s more to it than just having to learn. The concern with this Gonzaga team is whether or not they have the guard play to be able to create offense down the stretch against a set, elite defense. BYU’s defense is not what one would call elite. If the Zags cannot score against them down the stretch, what are they going to do against some of the best back courts in the country?