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Where do we even begin today?

North Carolina got flat-out dominated by a not-so-good Texas team. The same not-so-good Texas team playing without Myck Kabongo, who has been awaiting word from the NCAA. At roughly the same time last night, the NCAA came down with its decision. It wasn’t pretty.

But that’s certainly not all that happened. The Crosstown Classic was renewed and restored. Maurice Creek got injured again. Jabari Parker will make his college decision later today.

I’m done trying to explain why we have a lot to get to. Just know that we have a lot to get to.

Lets hit the links.

Thursday’s Top Games:
7:00 p.m. – Elon @ No. 1 Duke
8:00 p.m. – Lipscomb @ Memphis
8:05 p.m. – Lehigh @ North Texas
8:30 p.m. – Eastern Michigan @ No. 2 Michigan
9:00 p.m. – Cal-Poly @ Washington
11:00 p.m. -UC-Irvine @ USC
 
 
Read(s) of the Day:
This one isn’t exactly hoops specific but it’s definitely worth your time. Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated hands out his aunnal media awards for 2012. This is must-read stuff. Read it. (Sports Illustrated)

Read(s) of the Day:
A marvelous reaction piece from Eric Adelson on the crisp words spoken by Winthrop head coach Pat Kelsey following his team’s loss to Ohio State on Tuesday. This is tremendous stuff. (Yahoo Sports)
 
 
Top Stories:
No. 23 North Carolina embarrassed by Texas: Texas is not a good team, especially without Myck Kabongo. This should tell you just how much the Tar Heels are struggling this season. Last night was ugly.

No. 11 Cincinnati outlasts Xavier in the renewal of the Crosstown Classic: Sean Kilpatrick scored 25 points and Cashmere Wright chipped in with 15 as No. 11 Cincinnati jumped all over Xavier in the second half, winning the sanitized Crosstown Shootout, err Crosstown Classic, 60-45.

CBT Podcast Episode Three: Troy Machir and Raphielle Johnson discuss the current state of west coast hoops and dish on thheir favorite Big East and Jim Boeheim moments.

Geno Auriemma sounds off on realignment: It was just a matte of time before the legendary UConn women’s head coach voiced his opinion on the implosion of the Big East. And as expected, he had some choice words.

Holiday wish list for Duke Blue Devils: What exactly does the No. 1 team in the country need this holiday season? Daniel Martin has your answer.

Stetson Hatters provide the craziest buzzer-beater of the season: Just when everybody (including the play-by-play announcer) thinks the game is over, a coast-to-coast drive, air-ball and follow-up steals the show. My man Robbie Aaron kinda steals the show on the mic, too.
 
 
Hoops Housekeeping
– Jabari Parker will make his highly anticipated college decision later today. Here is the final word from many of the top recruiting experts in the country (MLive.com)

– Texas got a statement-win last night, beating North Carolina by 18 points. But while the Longhorns were smacking the Tar Heels, the NCAA was busy suspending guard Myck Kabongo for the entire season. It’s laughable at this point. I’m so done with the NCAA. (Yahoo Sports)

– South Alabama coach Ronnie Arrow abruptly resigned on Wednesday. I believe this is the first coaching change of the season. (Jags Jungle)

– Indiana guard Maurice Creek is injured yet again, this time for an indefinite length. You just hate to see this happens. His heart is in it, but his body keeps failing him. (The Dagger)

– Syracuse University’s athletic department media director Roger Springfield is no longer employed by the school and, according to a newspaper report, is being investigated by police. (CBS Sports)
 
 
Observations & Insight:
– Mick Cronin would be happy if the Crosstown Classic continued at an on-campus venue. the Bearcats head coach believe the rivalry game belongs to the city, and as such, should be held not for season ticket holders, but for the entire community. (GoBearcats.com)

– Some interesting quotes from Big East Commissioner Mike Aresco on what lies ahead for his league (The Washington Post)

– Fresh off a tough loss to UNLV, the UTEP Miners got a tough triple-OT win over Oregon in a game where the Ducks tried their hardest to give the game away (Addicted to Quack)

– Louisville routed Florida International last night. Why is this important? Because Rick Pitino squared off against, and defeated his son Richard’s new team. (Lexington Hearld-Leader)

– Some clutch shots made down the stretch sealed Coppin State’s first victory at the Towson Center in 20 years (Baltimore Sun)

– LIU-Brooklyn looked out of sync and out of sorts without Julian Boyd, and it showed. The Blackbirds lost to St. Peter’s by 13. (Big Apple Buckets)

– Texas Southern’s Omar Strong is a mid-major player that show be getting high-major praise. I love this kid. Dude can ball for days. (Mid-Major Madness)

– An awesome-read on the family life of Kansas forward Kevin Young. Really great stuff. Plus the family afros are incredible. (KUsports.com)
 
 
 Picture of the Day:
Father knows best, as Rick Pitino and the Louisville Cardinals defeated Richard Pitino and the Panthers of Florida International (Card Chronicle)
 

source:
Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

 
 
Dunks(s) of the Day:
Marquette’s Jamil Wilson gets some face time because he followed up a miss. Remember that kids. Always crash the glass.
 

 
 
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Sweet 16 Preview: Thursday’s picks, predictions, betting lines and channels

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The Sweet 16 kicks off on Thursday night, and the games are going to be terrific.

Oregon-Michigan should be thrilling, Gonzaga-West Virginia is a fascinating contrast of styles and Kansas-Purdue features arguably the two best players in college basketball.

Oh, and then there’s Arizona-Xavier, with Sean Miller and Chris Mack doing battle.

For an in-depth look at each region, check these out:

SWEET 16 PREVIEW: Midwest | West | South | East

No. 3 Oregon vs. No. 7 Michigan (-1.5), 7:09 p.m. (CBS): So this run that Michigan on, is it a fluke?

Frankly, I don’t think that it is. Derrick Walton has been awesome for the better part of two months while Michigan’s perimeter shooters have always been shooters and the duo of D.J. Wilson and Mo Wagner are legit. I honestly do not believe that the Wolverines are a team of destiny after the plane crash. They are just really good and a perfect roster for John Beilein to tinker with.

That’s why they’re favored on Thursday night. But here’s the thing … Oregon is pretty good themselves. Dillon Brooks is going to be guarded by a big man, which should be a matchup that Brooks can take advantage of, and Tyler Dorsey has been playing terrific basketball since the start of the Pac-12 tournament.

If you like small-ball, spread-the-court basketball, you’ll love this game.

PREDICTION: Michigan (-1.5)

No. 1 Gonzaga (-3) vs. No. 4 West Virginia, 7:39 p.m. (TBS): On paper, I think Gonzaga should win this game. They have a good back court in Nigel Williams-Goss and Josh Perkins, a pair of talented point guards that have won a lot of games in their career. Gonzaga is also the best defensive team in the country. So if they don’t turn the ball over against West Virginia’s press and they make it difficult for West Virginia to score in the half court and get into their press, they should be able to win this thing, right?

Well, maybe not.

My concern with Gonzaga is game-pressure. They didn’t handle it well down the stretch against BYU in their one loss of the season, and I’m not convinced that they win that second round game against Northwestern if the officials don’t blow the goaltending call. How are they going to handle an endless wave of Mountaineers in their face?

PREDICTION: Gonzaga (-3)

No. 1 Kansas (-5) vs. No. 4 Purdue, 9:39 p.m. (CBS): More than any other game this weekend, I’m fascinated to see how these two teams decide to try and play each other. Kansas has, essentially, one big man that Bill Self can trust, and he’s going up against a Player of the Year candidate in Caleb Swanigan and one of the best big men in the country at drawing fouls in Isaac Haas. Will Self double-team Swanigan knowing that Purdue may be more effective offensively when Swanigan can find shooters out of the double-team, or will he risk Lucas getting in foul trouble by trying to guard Swanigan one-on-one?

Then, at the other end of the floor, how will Purdue deal with the Kansas back court? Frank Mason III, the NBC Sports National Player of the Year, and Devonte’ Graham are a nightmare for anyone to deal with, let alone a team that struggles against penetrating guards and that lacks rim protection. It should be a fascinating coaching battle.

PREDICTION: Kansas (-5)

No. 2 Arizona (-7.5) vs. No. 11 Xavier, 10:09 p.m. (TBS): On paper, Arizona should be able to handle a Xavier team that doesn’t have Edmond Sumner or Myles Davis. That said, as we all know, Chris Mack and Sean Miller are very close and used to work together. Mack knows everything that Miller is going to do and vice versa. I think this game will be a low-scoring, grind-it-out affair that comes down to the final minutes.

PREDICTION: Xavier (+7.5)

Shayok and Reuter transferring from Virginia

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Virginia announced the departure of two players Wednesday.

Marial Shayok and Jerred Shayok will both transfer out of the program, the school said.

“Marial and Jarred informed me today that they are leaving the Virginia basketball program and are looking to transfer to other schools,” Cavaliers coach Tony Bennett said in a statement released by the school. “I thank Marial and Jarred for their hard work and contributions to our program, and wish them success in the future.”

Shayok, a a 6-foot-5 junior, played 20.9 minutes per game last season for the Cavaliers, averaging 8.9 points and 2.4 rebounds per game while shooting 44.5 percent from the floor. The Ottawa native started 23 games in three seasons with Virginia.

Reuter played a minimal role for the Cavaliers, averaging just 10.8 minutes and 3.8 rebounds per game.

Wake’s Collins declares for NBA draft without hiring agent

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) Wake Forest’s John Collins is entering the NBA draft but will not hire an agent and is keeping open the option of returning to school for his junior season.

In a statement Wednesday announcing the decision, Collins said he wants “to make an informed decision about what is best for my future.”

Collins is a 6-foot-10 forward who as a sophomore blossomed into one of the best big men in the Atlantic Coast Conference and was voted to the Associated Press all-ACC team.

He averaged 19.2 points and 9.8 rebounds, putting together a string of 12 consecutive 20-point games late in the season.

His progression was a big reason why the Demon Deacons earned their first NCAA Tournament berth since 2010. Kansas State beat Wake Forest in the First Four.

More AP college basketball: http://www.collegebasketball.ap.org

Porter, Jr. will ask for Washington release

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There may be an overwhelming assumption on where Michael Porter, Jr. – and his father – will ultimately end up, but the five-star recruit is said publicly that he see his re-recruitment process through.

Porter, Jr. said in a teleconference Wednesday that he will ask for his release from Washington, and his father, a former Huskies assistant, has been offered a job at Missouri by new Tigers coach Cuonzo Martin.

“Right now I’m just trying to take it slow with my family and weigh my options,” Porter Jr. said, according to the Kansas City Star. “I plan to get my (national letter of intent) from Washington back and just go from there, not saying that I’m not going to Washington anymore, but I just want to get it back and weigh my options.”

The prevailing thought has been that the Porters will ultimately land in Columbia, where they have significant history.

Still, it would appear at least publicly that Porter, Jr., a potential No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA draft, will weigh his options in at least the short-term.

Calipari signs two-year extension with Kentucky

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Kentucky continues to take care of John Calipari.

The Wildcats coach has received a two-year extension, keeping him under contract in Lexington through the 2024 season, the school announced Wednesday.

The contract will pay Calipari $7.75 million next season and increase to $8 million per season thereafter.

“John has achieved consistent championship-level performance at Kentucky,” Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart said in a statement. “No one in America is better suited for everything that comes with being the coach here. Not only has he attained incredible success on the court, he is also a leader in our community and in college basketball.

“We have been blessed to have him and Ellen here for the last eight years and we are blessed they will continue to call Kentucky home.”

Not only does the deal extend Calipari, but it continues to keep Kentucky competitive with the NBA, which would seem to be the only outlet that would even potentially tempt Calipari away from Kentucky. An NBA franchise would have to make him among the highest-paid coaches in the league to even match Kentucky financially.

Of course, given that Calipari has spurned interest from the league since returning to college in 2000, it seems unlikely that financial considerations would be the lone or heaviest variable in making a decision to move on.

Certainly, Calipari has an excellent thing going at Kentucky as the premier recruiting program in the country that has enjoyed serious success on the court, culminating in a 2012 national title and a 38-0 start to the 2015 season before a loss in the Final Four.

“The last eight years at the University of Kentucky have been a terrific ride,” Calipari said in a statement. “This extension shows our full commitment to each other. I believe this school is the gold standard and I’m so thankful and blessed that this university has given me this opportunity at this point in my career.”

The Wildcats face UCLA in the Sweet 16 on Friday.